In a recent study of male workers, men with low testosterone levels had an increased chance of severe erectile dysfunction (Kratzik et al 2005), although such a link had not been found previously (Rhoden et al 2002). Certainly erectile dysfunction is considered part of the clinical syndrome of hypogonadism, and questions regarding erectile dysfunction form part of the clinical assessment of patients with hypogonadism (Morley et al 2000; Moore et al 2004).
Vitamin D supplementation may potentially boost testosterone levels, but further research is needed to determine if it really has an effect on the testosterone levels of young people and athletes. The truth is likely similar to zinc and magnesium — being in a deficient state causes your testosterone levels to drop below baseline, and supplementing it just takes you right back to baseline (but not any higher).
We reviewed the ingredient lists of our supplements and cut three that prescribed us an overdose of magnesium. While it’s possible to stay under the 350mg daily limit of supplemental magnesium by taking fewer pills than the manufacturer recommends, we were concerned that any manufacturer would advise you to exceed the recommended safety limit for magnesium intake by almost a third.
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Epidemiological studies have also assessed links between serum testosterone and non-coronary atherosclerosis. A study of over 1000 people aged 55 years and over found an inverse correlation between serum total and bioavailable testosterone and the amount of aortic atherosclerosis in men, as assessed by radiological methods (Hak et al 2002). Increased intima-media thickness (IMT) is an early sign of atherosclerosis and has also been shown to predict cardiovascular mortality (Murakami et al 2005). Cross-sectional studies have found that testosterone levels are negatively correlated with carotid IMT in independently living men aged 74–93 years (van den Beld et al 2003), diabetic men (Fukui et al 2003) and young obese men (De Pergola et al 2003). A 4-year follow up study of the latter population showed that free testosterone was also inversely correlated with the rate of increase of IMT (Muller et al 2004).
It is hard to know how many men among us have TD, although data suggest that overall about 2.1% (about 2 men in every 100) may have TD. As few as 1% of younger men may have TD, while as many as 50% of men over 80 years old may have TD. People who study the condition often use different cut-off points for the numbers, so you may hear different numbers being stated.
Xenoestrogen is a chemical that imitates estrogen in the human body. When men are exposed to too much of this estrogen-imitating chemical, T levels drop significantly. The problem is xenoestrogen is freaking everywhere — plastics, shampoos, gasoline, cows, toothpaste. You name it and chances are there are xenoestrogen in it. The ubiquitous nature of this chemical in our modern world is one reason some endocrinologists believe that testosterone levels are lower in men today than in decades past. It’s also a reason doctors say the number of boys born with hypospadias — a birth defect in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis and not at the tip — has doubled. Note to expecting parents: make sure mom stays away from xenoestrogens during the pregnancy.
A diagnosis of low testosterone is typically made if a man’s free testosterone hormone level is below 300 ng/dL. But as a doctor specializing in sexual health, I typically consider optimized male testosterone levels somewhere between 600 to 800 ng/dL—rarely above or below those numbers. The tests that I routinely recommend to my male clients can be found in this test panel and include biomarkers associated with testosterone, free and total (this includes sex-hormone binding globulin [SHBG]), estradiol, estrogen (total and serum), cortisol, DHEAs, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), hemoglobin A1C, and vitamin D.
Exercise boosts testosterone in two important ways. First, specific types of exercise actually cause our body to produce more testosterone. We’ll talk more about those in a bit. Second, exercise helps to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. As we’ve discussed previously, adipose tissue converts testosterone into estrogen. The less fat we get, the more T we have.
Next, while testosterone levels do decline with age, this may simply be because the older that men get, the less they take care of themselves – they stop exercising, start putting on weight, and don’t pay as much attention to their diet. A recent study suggests that age-related T decline is not inevitable, and that if you keep living a healthy lifestyle, you can maintain healthy testosterone levels. So if you’re an older guy, try to do all you can as far as lifestyle changes before you get on the prescription T. I don’t mean doing a little cardio a few times a week, using the machines at the gym, and eating “pretty” healthy. Follow the guidelines above, and see what happens first.
At the National Population and Family Development Board in Malaysia, men between the ages of 31 and 52 were given two capsules of the herb (E. longifolia) in Andro400 every day for three weeks. They reported erections were stronger and, in some cases, lasted longer. Overall, they felt more virile. Their levels of testosterone doubled within three weeks.5
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6., 7. JK, Udani, George AA, Musthapa M, Pakdaman MN, and Abas A. "Effects of a Proprietary Freeze-Dried Water Extract of Eurycoma Longifolia (Physta) and Polygonum minus on Sexual Performance and Well-Being in Men: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Jan. 2014.
If you are concerned, your doctor can take a blood test to determine if your testosterone is abnormally low. Most doctors are willing to take your preference for natural treatments into consideration when designing a treatment plan, but your doctor will also let you know if medical treatments (i.e. prescription testosterone therapy) would be better for your circumstances.
If you're a man who's experiencing symptoms such as decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulties with concentration and memory, and you think low testosterone may be to blame, you can have your levels tested. Since testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, you'll probably need more than a blood test to get a true picture of your levels.