Hormones are some of the major regulators of our bodies. They contribute to the production of muscles, bones and fatty tissues, they play a large role in sexual function and they can influence our ability to process emotions. When these hormones are not produced at adequate levels, they can create symptoms that are difficult to manage.
Testosterone is a hormone found in both males and females, but much more foundational for male development. Largely produced in the testicles, testosterone aids in building bone density and muscle mass, controls sexual drive and sperm production, and influences red blood cell production and fat distribution in male bodies.
This hormone is critical for developing males in particular, but plays a major role in the overall health and wellbeing of males as they get older. Levels of testosterone typically peak during early adulthood, then slowly decline after the age of 30. In some cases, this can result in abnormally low levels that affect you in a variety of different ways.
What is low-T?
Low testosterone, or low-T, is categorized as the underproduction of testosterone in both men and women. In males, testosterone typically falls between 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL), high is 1000 ng/dL. Levels lower than 300 ng/dL are likely considered low-T and may need to be addressed by a doctor.
Low-T may have a variety of causes, particularly injury to the testicles or chemotherapy. Additionally, it can be caused by other underlying health problems, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, other hormonal conditions, infections or liver and kidney disease.
Many of the symptoms of low-T are often misunderstood to be due to a different type of condition; however, they can be determined as symptoms of low-T with a blood test. Because testosterone affects the production of many parts of the body, people usually experience bodily changes as a result of lower hormone levels. Symptoms typically include:
- Decreased strength
- Emotional changes and depression
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss
- Low bone density
- Low libido
- Weight gain
Treating low-T naturally
In more severe cases, low-T can sometimes be treated using testosterone replacement therapy and by supplementing testosterone levels through skin patches, gels or injections. However, there are numerous ways to treat low-T naturally by altering your lifestyle. Identifying the cause of low-T and fixing it can often remedy the problem and bolster testosterone production. Some suggestions include:
- Get good sleep: A lack of quality sleep can mess with your body’s balance of hormones and chemicals and result in low testosterone production. Following a good sleeping pattern and getting 7 to 8 hours a night can help maintain healthy hormone balances and boost testosterone production.
- Reduce stress: Much like a lack of sleep, extreme stress can alter the way your body produces hormones, throwing your balance out of whack and resulting in low testosterone levels. Instead, your body will be producing cortisol, a stress hormone. Identify the causes of your stress and work to remove them or find ways to control them with mediation, yoga, supplements and other remedies.
- Eat healthier: Maintaining a well-balanced diet is critical for full-body wellness, not just testosterone production. However, diets high in sugar can result in type 2 diabetes and obesity, both of which have the ability to cause low-T. Focus on cutting back on sugars and carbohydrates and eating a better diet high in healthy fats.
- Stay active: Testosterone contributes to the body’s muscle mass and bone density. If you’re not physically active, your body won’t need to support these elements as much and may begin to produce less of the hormone. Staying active can trigger the hormone production to bring testosterone levels back up to normal. Plus, exercising will help you maintain a healthy weight to avoid health problems that may cause low-T.
- Get vitamin D: Some studies have found a link between low levels of vitamin D and low levels of testosterone. Try to spend at least 20 minutes a day in the sun (wearing proper sun protection!) to soak up the healthy rays or take a vitamin D3 supplement. Your whole body will thank you.
Low-T isn’t necessarily permanent and can often be remedied through natural treatments and a focus on living an active, healthy lifestyle. If you are experiencing the symptoms of low-T, visit a doctor to have a blood test done, since the symptoms may be indicative of another health problem. If you do have low-T, work with your physician to determine the cause and find healthy solutions to keep your hormone levels—and whole body—in balance.