Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It is also found in the blood stream of other mammals, reptiles as well as birds. Testosterone is an essential hormone in the human body as it has both anabolic and androgenic functions. This hormone is also fundamental in the sexual functions of both men and women as it is responsible for a healthy sex drive or libido in both. This therefore means that testosterone is not only present in men, but it is also present in women.
In men, testosterone is produced in the testicles while in women it is produced in the ovaries. The adrenal glands also produce small quantities of this steroid hormone in both sexes. This hormone is responsible for various functions such as the induction male secondary sex characteristics, sperm maturation and production, bone maturation, muscle growth, enlarging and activating sebaceous glands and the enlargement of the phallus in men and the clitoris in women.
What is Low Testosterone?
Normal testosterone levels in women can be anywhere between 15 to 70 Nano grams per deciliter of plasma. Normal levels in male are usually 7 to 8 times the amount of normal levels in females. This is between 300 to 1070 Nano grams per deciliter of plasma. Therefore, low testosterone levels refer to a phenomenon where either a man or a woman has testosterone measures as per the ranges stated above. In men, the threshold is normally 300 Nano grams per deciliter of plasma.
What Causes Low Testosterone?
There are numerous factors that can affect testosterone production in men. Most of these factors are biological and or related to medical issues while others are environmental. They include the following:
- Congenital disorders such as undescended testicles and Klienfelter’s syndrome
- Obesity and poor lifestyle choices such as smoking along with excessive alcohol sugar and caffeine intake
- Pituitary disorders
- HIV/AIDS as the virus hinders normal functioning of the pituitary gland, hypothalamus and testicles
- Side effects of certain medication such as opiate pain medication
- Kallman syndrome (an abnormal development of the hypothalamus)
- Cancer treatment: chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Injury to the testicles
- Infections such as meningitis and syphilis
- Anabolic steroids commonly used by body builders and athletes
- Hemochromatosis (a condition characterized by having too much iron in your blood stream)
- Glandular malformations of the testicles and cancer
- Exposure to environmental pollutants which have particles that resemble estrogen such as pesticides that stimulate the conversion of testosterone into estrogen
In women, the factors that lead to low testosterone levels include the following:
- High blood pressure
- Ovarian cancer
- Cancer treatment
- Glandular malformation of the ovaries
- Side effect to certain medications such as oral contraceptives and opiate pain medication
- Hysterectomy (surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus)
- Damage to the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus
- Infections such as meningitis and syphilis
The Age Factor
Aging can lead to low testosterone levels in both men and women. This is because as we age, testosterone levels are naturally reduced in our bodies. Some studies have even suggested that more quantities of testosterone, particularly in men, are converted into estrogen as they age by the day as compared to when they were younger. This is why people gradually lose interest in sex as they age. In addition, low testosterone levels due to the age factor could also be responsible for weak bones, loss in muscle strength and fatigue all of which afflict the elderly.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone levels can be manifested in numerous ways. In men, the signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels are as follows:
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of body hair and balding
- Muscle weakness
- Mood alterations and spells of depression
In women, the signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels are as follows:
- Low libido and disinterest in sex
- Mood swings coupled with depression
- Poor vaginal lubrication
- Irregular menses
- Thinning of the vaginal wall
- Sleep disturbances such as insomnia
- Breast pain and tenderness
- Recurring miscarriages
- Anorgasmia (failure to get an orgasm during sexual intercourse)
How to Boost Your Testosterone Levels?
Low testosterone levels can be fatal in both sexes. Therefore, if you suspect that your testosterone levels are dropping, visit a physician immediately. The first line of treatment involves prescribing medication. There are other forms of treatment that mostly include herbal remedies and making a couple of lifestyle changes. Low testosterone
levels can be treated in the following ways:
- Treating and or controlling any underlying conditions that are responsible for low testosterone levels such as meningitis
- Testosterone replacement therapy in form of testosterone pills, patches and injections
- Lose weight by exercising more regularly
- Reduce stress levels
- Reduce alcohol, caffeine and sugar intake
- Get enough sleep
- Increase zinc intake in your diet by adding foods such as nuts
- Chrysin is an herbal remedy for low testosterone as it reduces conversion of testosterone into estrogen
- Stinging nettle is also said to be an herbal remedy that boost testosterone levels
- The Malaysian ginseng also supposedly boosts blood testosterone levels by directly influencing cells in the testicles to produce more testosterone
In conclusion, having low testosterone levels is a serious medical condition which can have dire consequences on your bodily functions. Luckily, the condition can be diagnosed and treated by your doctor who will carry out several blood tests and urine tests after which an appropriate treatment plan will be established. Low testosterone levels can affect both men and women. Therefore, make the right lifestyle and dietary changes are crucial in order to avoid being afflicted as every single person is at risk. This will also improve your overall wellbeing. If you choose to go for the herbal remedies stated above or any other herbs available, do so after consulting a physician.