Testosterone treatment is unequivocally needed in classical hypogonadism for reasons discussed in subsequent subsections. In classical hypogonadism, testosterone production is usually clearly below the lower limit of normal and patients are highly symptomatic; the various symptoms are easily related to the deficiencies in various bodily systems where testosterone action is important. Symptoms of testosterone deficiency are listed in Table 2. A few prominent causes of classical hypogonadism are listed in Table 3.
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. In one study, overweight men who were given vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in testosterone levels after one year.5
Ghlissi, Z., Atheymen, R., Boujbiha, M. A., Sahnoun, Z., Makni Ayedi, F., Zeghal, K., ... Hakim, A. (2013, December). Antioxidant and androgenic effects of dietary ginger on reproductive function of male diabetic rats [Abstract]. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 64 (8), 974–978. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23862759
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The science backs up the soldier’s self discovery, in fact, exposure to radiation (whether it’s from an army radar or the cell phone in your pocket, or the wifi router in your house) has been shown to lower sperm quality, fertility and testosterone. This is true not only for military personnel (88, 89,90) but all males living in a modern world (91).
Testosterone has several positive effects on sexual function, but its most significant effect is on libido, sexual interest and arousal. Boys going through puberty develop an enhanced interest in sex (thoughts, fantasies, masturbation, intercourse) as a consequence of rising levels of testosterone. Hypogonadal men usually have a significant improvement in libido when TRT is initiated (Wang et al 2000; Morley and Perry 2003).
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A blood test is the only way to diagnose a low testosterone level or a reduction in the bioavailability of testosterone. Some men have a lower than normal testosterone level without signs or symptoms. For most men, no treatment is needed. But for some others, very low testosterone levels lead to a condition in which bones become weak and brittle (osteoporosis). For others, low testosterone might cause changes in sexual function, sleep patterns, emotions and the body.
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Try a protein deprivation diet. According to "Optimum Anabolics," the body produces more testosterone in response to heavy training when there is insufficient protein in the diet. Testosterone provides a hypertrophic, or muscle-building, backup system, allowing for muscle recovery when protein is not available. To follow this diet, take in only 30 grams of high-quality, fast-digesting protein (whey protein) immediately following your weight training. The rest of the days, your calories, split into five or six meals, should be divided between low-glycemic carbohydrates (oatmeal, whole grains and sweet potatoes) and healthy fats. After three weeks of this diet, switch back to a higher-protein diet (1 gram of protein per pound of body weight), adding one extra 20 to 30 gram serving of protein before bed.
Type 2 diabetes is an important condition in terms of morbidity and mortality, and the prevalence is increasing in the developed and developing world. The prevalence also increases with age. Insulin resistance is a primary pathological feature of type 2 diabetes and predates the onset of diabetes by many years, during which time raised serum insulin levels compensate and maintain normoglycemia. Insulin resistance and/or impaired glucose tolerance are also part of the metabolic syndrome which also comprises an abnormal serum lipid profile, central obesity and hypertension. The metabolic syndrome can be considered to be a pre-diabetic condition and is itself linked to cardiovascular mortality. Table 1 shows the three commonly used definitions of the metabolic syndrome as per WHO, NCEPIII and IDF respectively (WHO 1999; NCEPIII 2001; Zimmet et al 2005).
The bones and the brain are two important tissues in humans where the primary effect of testosterone is by way of aromatization to estradiol. In the bones, estradiol accelerates ossification of cartilage into bone, leading to closure of the epiphyses and conclusion of growth. In the central nervous system, testosterone is aromatized to estradiol. Estradiol rather than testosterone serves as the most important feedback signal to the hypothalamus (especially affecting LH secretion). In many mammals, prenatal or perinatal "masculinization" of the sexually dimorphic areas of the brain by estradiol derived from testosterone programs later male sexual behavior.
The converse is also true; there is an increased incidence of rheumatic/autoimmune disease in men with hypogonadism. Jimenez-Balderas et al (2001) carried out neuroendocrine, genetic and rheumatologic investigations in hypogonadal men. Of the 13 hypogonadal patients, 8 (61%) had rheumatic autoimmune disease (ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythemetosus, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis). There is a low frequency of those diseases (0.83%) in the general population.
Early infancy androgen effects are the least understood. In the first weeks of life for male infants, testosterone levels rise. The levels remain in a pubertal range for a few months, but usually reach the barely detectable levels of childhood by 4–7 months of age. The function of this rise in humans is unknown. It has been theorized that brain masculinization is occurring since no significant changes have been identified in other parts of the body. The male brain is masculinized by the aromatization of testosterone into estrogen, which crosses the blood–brain barrier and enters the male brain, whereas female fetuses have α-fetoprotein, which binds the estrogen so that female brains are not affected.
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The partial synthesis in the 1930s of abundant, potent testosterone esters permitted the characterization of the hormone's effects, so that Kochakian and Murlin (1936) were able to show that testosterone raised nitrogen retention (a mechanism central to anabolism) in the dog, after which Allan Kenyon's group was able to demonstrate both anabolic and androgenic effects of testosterone propionate in eunuchoidal men, boys, and women. The period of the early 1930s to the 1950s has been called "The Golden Age of Steroid Chemistry", and work during this period progressed quickly. Research in this golden age proved that this newly synthesized compound—testosterone—or rather family of compounds (for many derivatives were developed from 1940 to 1960), was a potent multiplier of muscle, strength, and well-being.
Millions of American men use a prescription testosterone gel or injection to restore normal levels of the manly hormone. The ongoing pharmaceutical marketing blitz promises that treating "low T" this way can make men feel more alert, energetic, mentally sharp, and sexually functional. However, legitimate safety concerns linger. For example, some older men on testosterone could face higher cardiac risks.