Testosterone Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Evidence Based Article 📄
This article has been based on relevant and up-to-date scientific studies. Our writers are unbiased and objective and present the facts as they are known. Numbers in brackets within the article refer to sources included in the reference list at the end of the article.

Testosterone deficiency is one of the biggest problems men face these days.

The latest studies have suggested that men without enough of testosterone have a higher risk of many serious diseases and illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

The blood test is usually the quickest way to find out the level of this hormone.

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Although testosterone generally produced in guys by the testicles, women have this hormone in their bodies too.

The low levels of testosterone in both males and females play a crucial role in sexual development as well as appearance, that’s why it’s important to know if you’re deficient in the hormone or not.

Today, we’re going to discuss all the signs, risks, and remedies that will help you avoid lots of serious illnesses.

What are the functions of testosterone in women’s and men’s bodies?

Testosterone production is highly important for numerous body’s functions, but unfortunately, it reduces as we age.

The American Urological Association revealed that 4 out of 10 males over the age of 45 face a low testosterone level. On the other hand,

The Department of Health & Human Services in Australia showed that women over the age of 40 experience a drastically low testosterone level.

There are many reasons for it, but let’s first see why a healthy level of testosterone is so vital to your body.

The most important functions testosterone serves in men’s bodies are:

  • Promotes healthy sexual development;
  • Can affect a man’s appearance;
  • Stimulates sex drive;
  • Ensures good sperm production;
  • Promotes the overall health.

The most important functions testosterone serves in women’s bodies are:

  • Can affect the follicle-stimulating hormones that play a key role in reproduction;
  • Boosts libido;
  • Helps to produce new blood cells.

What are the major symptoms of low testosterone?

There are many symptoms both female and male testosterone deficiency and it’s difficult to set the right diagnosis without a blood test.

However, the most common symptoms men experience include:

  • Poor semen production during ejaculation;
  • Erectile difficulties, albeit there are many other health issues that lead to erectile dysfunction like stress, mental disorders, alcohol, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes;
  • Low sex drive;
  • A loss of facial and body hair; in some cases balding;
  • Frequent mood swings;
  • The thinning of bone mass or osteoporosis;
  • Enlarged breast tissues;
  • A decrease in muscle mass;
  • Low energy levels and fatigue.

The symptoms of testosterone deficiency in women are:

  • Muscle weakness;
  • Lethargy;
  • Anxiety and depression;
  • Weak sexual satisfaction;
  • Low sexual desire.

What are the major causes of low testosterone?

There are three types of low testosterone in men and each has its causes.

The first type is primary low testosterone that is caused by undescended testicles, testicle or scrotal injuries, aging, mumps, radiation therapy or chemotherapy, orchitis, chromosomal abnormalities, and surgical removal or ovarian failure.

The second type is a secondary hypogonadism and the third type is a tertiary hypogonadism.

Both types are caused by a regular intake of anabolic steroids, gland inflammation because of a disease (sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, or HIV), low blood flow to the glands, gland malformations, chemotherapy of nearby tumors, and tumors associated with hypothalamus or the pituitary glands.

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There are some other causes that decrease testosterone in men that have nothing to do with the above causes.

Obesity is the most common one, in which fat cells increase a testosterone-to-estrogen conversion.

Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, COPD, and renal disease, as well as drug abuse can contribute to testosterone deficiency.

Testosterone in women is produced in a few locations in the body, such as peripheral tissues, adrenal glands, and ovaries.

Since the ovaries are the main testosterone producer, the diminution in hormones, which are produced by the ovaries, is usually related to menopause.

This means that the majority of pre- and post-menopausal females are prone to low testosterone levels.

Generally, low libido has been related to post-menopausal decreases in estrogen. But, studies have revealed that there’s a significant link between affected libido and low testosterone production.

Other common causes of testosterone deficiency in women are early menopause, oral estrogen therapy, hypopituitarism, the surgical removal of the ovaries, and adrenal insufficiency.

How can men boost their testosterone levels naturally?

When men face a drastic decrease in their testosterone levels, it’s essential to consult a doctor who will prescribe certain medications and supplements. However, it’s always possible to increase your hormone level without medical treatment, but with your doctor’s guidance, of course. Here’s how:

1.Increase your BCAA intake

Branch Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs, are highly popular in the fitness and bodybuilding community, as they’re known to help gain mass.

However, a number of recent researchers have found that both BCAA supplementation and foods rich in BCAAs can aid in increasing the testosterone levels.

The biggest concentrations of BCAAs, such as leucine, can be found in dairy products, especially whey protein and quality cheeses, as well as eggs, nuts, lentils, and beans.

2.Provide your body with healthy fats

Healthy fats are vital for building testosterone. There are many healthy, high-fat foods that you can include in your diet to maintain your testosterone levels.

Some of the best ones include avocados, olive oil, nuts, seed and nut butters, ground flaxseed, salmon, tuna, dark chocolate, tofu, edamame, seeds, and eggs, among the others.

3.Reduce your sugar intake

Sugar remains a public enemy #1 because even limiting its consumption is an uphill battle.

Too much sugar can drastically increase the insulin level and reduce the testosterone level, so if you eat a lot of sugary foods throughout the day, it can lead to a chronically low hormone level.

If you can’t eliminate sugar from your diet, at least consider limiting its consumption. Also, read the labels and avoid foods that contain added sugars and fructose.

4.Banish stress

Studies have proven that men who live in the big cities are more prone to have low testosterone than those living in small towns and villages.

The big city living is stressful, which is why some men suffer from a testosterone decrease on a frequent basis. If chronic stress is a part of your life, you need to change your lifestyle.

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The high level of stress makes your body release lots of cortisol. This stress hormone blocks the effects of testosterone, since the testosterone-related behaviors (aggression, competing, mating) may have reduced your chances of the survival in an emergency.

Try yoga, meditation, positive visualization, deep breathing, and other activities that help you feel more relaxed in order to boost your testosterone naturally.

5.Avoid vitamin D deficiency

A steroid hormone, Vitamin D, is vital for the healthy nucleus development of the sperm cell. Plus, it helps to maintain sperm count and semen quality.

The proper amount of Vitamin D can also boost the testosterone levels, which in turn, may increase libido.

A study conducted by the Medical University of Graz, Austria revealed that overweight men who took vitamin D supplements showed a significant growth in the levels of testosterone after a year.

Since vitamin D deficiency is widespread these days, it’s critical to add more foods rich in this vitamin to your diet as well as optimize your vitamin D levels by enjoying a healthy amount of sun.

Vitamin D supplementation is only possible under your doctor’s guidance. Start with eating natural sources of vitamin D, such as mushrooms, eggs, caviar, fortified almond milk and soy milk, tofu, and fortified cereals.

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6.Consider strength training

If your health permits, you can also include strength training in your weekly schedule. Numerous studies have demonstrated the ways strength training can increase the testosterone levels. But it’s important to not overdo it. Start slowly by increasing the weight and decreasing a number of reps. Concentrate on exercises that aim to work lots of muscles, like squats or dead lifts.

7.Increase your zinc intake

Zinc is critical for a testosterone production as well. A number of scientific reviews have proven that low zinc level in the body leads to a significantly decreased level of testosterone. Men over the age of 60 have a higher risk of zinc deficiency, which is why supplementation may be required.

You can keep a proper zinc level in your body, by including zinc-rich foods in your diet. Some of the best sources include legumes, beans, seeds, nuts, oats, wheat germ, nutritional yeast, fortified cereals, tofu, spinach, white button and Shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, and broccoli, among the others.

Men need a minimum of 11 milligrams of this mineral per day to keep their testosterone levels high. If it’s impossible to get zinc from foods, supplementation may be an option.

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7.Combine short intense exercise and intermittent fasting

This is probably the most complicated way to increase testosterone, but researches prove that it’s as effective as any supplementation.

Unlike prolonged moderate exercise, short intense exercise positively impacts the whole body and its functions. 20 minutes a day are enough for such workout.

Short intense exercise includes a 3-minute warm-up, 30-second intense workout, 90-second recovery at a slow to moderate pace, and repeating of the intense workouts and recovery breaks at least 7 times. Remember to stretch properly before and after a workout and start slowly to prevent injuries.

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Intermittent fasting increases the testosterone levels by elevating the satiety hormone expression, including leptin, insulin, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), adiponectin, melanocortins and colecystokinin (CKK), all of which are renowned for their powerful testosterone elevating actions. Intermittent fasting is also believed to boost libido and ward off a testosterone decline in the aging men.

8.Drop unwanted pounds

The recent research has found that obese men are much more likely to have the low levels of testosterone than other men.

Men who dropped a significant weight have reported to have an improved sexual function. If you’re obese and suffer from diabetes, it’s vital to undergo a special treatment to increase your testosterone levels.

9.Get enough sleep

Sleep has the major effects on the testosterone levels. A research done by the University of Chicago observed that men who got only four hours of sleep per night faced borderline deficient testosterone levels.

While 7-10 hours of sleep can boost your testosterone, it’s crucial that you get quality sleep meaning falling asleep before 11 pm.

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How can women boost their testosterone levels naturally?

Unlike men, women shouldn’t worry too much about their testosterone levels, albeit a healthy testosterone level is essential for any woman, along with other key hormones like progesterone and estrogen.

Usually, athletic women strive to boost their testosterone in order to gain muscle.

In other cases, it’s better to consult a doctor to ensure your hormone level is fine. The high levels of testosterone in women can result in masculine physical characteristics like deepened voice and male-pattern balding, fluid retention, facial hair, and acne.

Post-menopausal women are often required to increase their testosterone levels in order to relieve the PMS symptoms.

Doctors typically prescribe a special medication, Estratest, which helps post-menopausal females balance their hormone levels. This medication contains both estrogen and testosterone, yet the testosterone form is synthetic and isn’t effective in elevating testosterone in men, for instance.

Women with very low testosterone levels may also get injections of testosterone or testosterone gel formulations.

There’s also a DHEA supplementation available for women. Since DHEA is a well-known precursor to testosterone, you can take a small amount of it to balance your testosterone level. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking a DHEA supplement since it has many harmful side-effects.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should never take any testosterone medications as they can negatively affect a fetus and pass on to the baby.

Although testosterone is the major male sex hormone, women may need to balance it as well. Studies have proven that both women and men should maintain the healthy levels of testosterone, particularly as they age. Men from the age of 25-30 should start checking their testosterone levels as this period is particularly associated with low testosterone.