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Low testosterone levels have become a bit of a problem in recent times.
Believe it or not, the average amount of serum testosterone in men has been on the decline for the past several decades.
Guess what? This mass decrease in testosterone is spread across all age ranges throughout the population. Young or old, East coast or West Coast, North or South —our testosterone levels are lower than for our cohorts of 50 years ago, 20 years ago, and even just 10 years ago.
So why are we seeing such a drop in the amount of testosterone the average man has compared to the generations before us?
Here we’ll explore some of the key lifestyle habits that may be having such a detrimental impact on our testosterone levels.
What Is Testosterone?
First off, let’s quickly remind ourselves what testosterone is all about.
As the primary male sex hormone, testosterone is part of what defines men as men. Our health, our virility, our bodies, these are all what they are because of the testosterone running through us.
There are other male hormones (or androgens) that play a role too, but testosterone is the big one for men.
The range that medical professionals consider to be normal for men is actually quite broad—between 300 and 1000 nanograms per decilitre (ng/dL)—of testosterone in the blood is what the pros consider to be normal and healthy.
If a blood test shows your levels to be below these numbers, then it isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm—especially as there are things you can do to boost your testosterone levels back up.
Why Do Testosterone Levels Decrease?
So, what causes testosterone levels to drop in the first place? Let’s explore.
One of the main causes is age. As we get older, our levels of testosterone naturally begin to decline—by roughly 1-3% each year from around your 30s or 40s onwards.
This is known as andropause (which is often unhelpfully referred to as the male menopause) and is behind many of the changes that we experience as a result of the aging process, such as:
- Increased body fat
- Less muscle mass
- Hair loss
- Moodiness and irritability
- Declining energy levels
- Decreased sex drive
- Problems with sperm production
- Issues with sexual function (e.g. erectile dysfunction or orgasm problems)
Some of these may seem unavoidable, but the good news is that if you keep your testosterone levels up as you age, it isn’t inevitable that you’ll experience these changes.
These age-related drops in testosterone levels don’t explain the generational differences though. Or the fact that adolescents and other young adult men also appear to be measuring lower levels of testosterone than men of similar ages from generations past.
So what gives? As far as scientists can tell, it mostly comes down to lifestyle factors and how things have changed over the past several decades.
What Lifestyle Factors Decrease Testosterone?
Here are some of the things that can affect testosterone and may be partly responsible for this unprecedented drop off in levels over the years—and what you can do to reverse the damage and boost the amount of testosterone in your own body.
The general Western diet has changed massively in a relatively short space of time. It’w now easier than ever to access foods full of sugars and fats—plus, harmful additives are being included in what we eat at much higher levels than before.
Processed foods and drinks that include too much sugar are one of the main culprits for lowering testosterone. Sugar causes spikes in your blood-glucose levels and stimulates insulin production, which in turn causes your testosterone to plummet.
Studies show that just 75g of sugar can cause a 25% reduction in testosterone production for up to two hours after consumption! Ditch the manufactured and processed foods in your diet for more natural and healthy whole foods instead.
Read: Our essential guide to testosterone-boosting foods to get your diet on track.
It’s not just the food we eat that is affecting our male hormones, it’s the packaging it comes in as well.
The plastics, cans, and even some papers that we wrap, sell, and store our food products in are as bad for us as they are for the environment, as they contain high levels of bisphenol-A (BPA). Overexposure to BPA can impact testosterone production in men as this chemical has a similar molecular structure to estrogen.
Tip: Avoid BPA-containing tins and plastic packaging, swap plastic water bottles for reusable steel or glass bottles and skip paper receipts at the supermarket as these are also lined with BPA.
Likewise, your cleaning and grooming products can contain toxins that affect testosterone. Check your shampoo, deodorants, toothpastes, and other cosmetics or toiletries.
If they contain ingredients that end in ‘paraben’ (such as methylparaben), then they could be causing you hormonal damage. Buy brands that use natural and organic ingredients instead.
As a result of such easy access and affordability of high-calorie foods, the average person’s weight has climbed upwards over the years too.
With an abundance of extra body fat comes an increase in estrogen—which comes at the expense of testosterone. This then leads to a vicious cycle, as less testosterone can decrease your muscle mass, which then leads to even lower testosterone levels.
Reducing your excess fat deposits and building some muscle mass will not only keep you feeling fit and strong as you age, but it will also bump your testosterone back up to healthy levels.
Lack of exercise
This relates back to our last point concerning the extra weight we carry as a nation. We lead a more sedentary lifestyle now than we used to—and it’s having an effect on our bodies.
Many of us work desk-based jobs, or at least ones where we spend most of the day sitting down for large periods of time.
Then we get home and have the whole internet at our disposal: movies, video games, social media…you name it.
These less active pursuits take up a lot of our free time these days, whereas more active or outdoor adventures seem to be less popular than they once were.
Solid exercise, especially resistance training with weights, raises your testosterone levels and builds muscle mass. So, finding ways to work out, or at least increase your rate of physical activity, is one of the best things you can do for your hormones and your overall health and fitness.
Lack of sunlight
Another downside to this ever-increasing indoor lifestyle is that many of us are lacking in vitamin D—which we get from the sun’s rays (even when the weather is cloudy and overcast).
This lack of exposure to sunlight is leading to more and more vitamin D deficiencies in the general population. It can also have a knock-on effect on how much testosterone your body produces.
Make it a priority to get outside for at least 20 minutes each day to bring your vitamin D and boost those testosterone levels back up to the max.
You probably weren’t expecting this one, were you?
Diet, exercise, and toxic chemicals—these all make sense as potential catalysts for declining testosterone levels, but how does what we wear make a difference?
It’s down to the types of clothing we dress ourselves in—most notably, tight underwear and skinny jeans.
These sorts of constrictive garments can overheat your testicles and restrict blood flow to the area. The result? A reduction in hormone production.
So, try switching to some looser clothing options to free up space down there and allow your testes to produce more testosterone.
As well as being bad for your weight and general health, alcohol consumption is also detrimental to your T levels—both in the short term and the long term.
Within 30 minutes of drinking alcohol, your testosterone begins to dip. This drop-off may only be temporary at first, but the effects of regular and heavy drinking sessions will quickly add up to become a bigger problem.
By disrupting hormonal function in the brain, your body can develop problems creating testosterone. Plus, the oxygen molecules that are produced as a result of the processing of alcohol can cause cell damage in the testes, which may further impair testosterone production.
We all know the dangers and health hazards related to drug use, so we won’t go into them all here. But, we will add reduced testosterone levels to the list.
Opioids are particularly damaging for hormone production, with testosterone being suppressed by up to 50% in men who use opiate-based drugs.
Other substances, like nicotine, amphetamines, and cannabis, can also have a negative impact on spermatogenesis and induce oxidative stress within the testicles.
Just one more reason to not abuse drugs or put harmful substances into your body.
Speaking of dangerous substances, anabolic androgenic steroids can also cause lots of health issues—including reducing your T levels.
You might think that injecting yourself with synthetic hormones will lead to extra testosterone in your body, but the opposite actually happens.
Production of your own testosterone in the testes will be suppressed, as the introduction of exogenous hormones into your body leads it to believe it doesn’t need to create its own endogenous testosterone.
It can then take up to four months for your T levels to return to normal after using steroids.
It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that substances like narcotics and alcohol can be problematic for your testosterone levels—but how about over-the-counter medications? Or ones that have been prescribed by your doctor?
It’s worth checking with your healthcare provider what the side effects of any medications you are taking are first, as various drug treatments can interfere with testosterone levels and production, including:
This is not an extensive list, as there are other prescription medications, including some antibiotics, that can affect testosterone. So, be aware of any impact your meds might have before taking them.
As well as the treatments for various medical disorders or illnesses, sometimes it’s the medical condition itself that causes your T levels to drop.
For example, diabetes, a hormonal imbalance, pituitary disorders, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can all have an impact on testosterone.
If you have, or recently had, any medical problems that may affect your hormone levels, then speak to your physician to discuss your treatment options.
Another physical cause of low testosterone can be injury to the testes.
Your testicles are the main producers of testosterone in your body, so any damage or trauma to the area can have an impact on how much you are able to create and release into the bloodstream.
Undescended testicles, twisted testicles, impact injuries, and infections—these can all hamper the ability of your testes to produce testosterone.
If you feel any pain or notice any physical changes in or around your testicles then get them checked out straight away by a medical professional.
Dealing with stress isn’t necessarily easy, but reducing the stressors in your life can improve your testosterone levels as well as improving your overall physical and mental health.
In the short term, stress doesn’t appear to have too detrimental an impact, whereas longer-term or chronic stress can be much more problematic for testosterone production.
Increased cortisol (i.e. stress hormone) levels can directly affect testosterone production in the testes, as well as create a negative feedback loop that stops the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis (HPG axis) from releasing sex hormones.
This happens because your body prioritizes a response to a threat over other bodily functions. When stress is acute or temporary, this shouldn’t have much of an effect on testosterone. But, if you’re experiencing chronic stress, then the persistent cortisol release will interfere with T levels.
Read: Our full guide on the link between testosterone and stress for more information.
Finally, along with all of your daytime activities, what you do, or don’t do, during the night can also affect testosterone.
Quality sleep is important for many reasons, one of which is hormone regulation. Not getting enough sleep can cause testosterone levels to decline. Studies show that getting just five hours of sleep instead of seven or more each night can lead to a 10-15% drop in T levels.
So, make sure you get enough sleep, in both quantity and quality, to stop your testosterone levels from plummeting even further.
How Can You Naturally Increase Testosterone?
The first step to boosting your testosterone levels is determining how low they may be. There are plenty of home testing kits available for checking your own levels and finding out your baseline to improve upon.
If your levels turn out to be dangerously low, or you have reason to believe that medical or lifestyle issues are causing you harm, visit your doctor to discuss the problem further.
They may be able to prescribe some form of hormone replacement treatment (HRT) or testosterone therapy if necessary. But, the side effects from these kinds of medications can be quite severe. Plus, your testosterone levels would need to be significantly reduced to qualify for something like HRT.
The good news is that there are things you can do to boost your testosterone the natural way.
Along with making changes to your lifestyle habits, you can also increase testosterone levels safely with a supplement.
Ingredients like fenugreek, DAA (D-aspartic acid), zinc, and Panax ginseng can all raise your testosterone levels naturally and without causing any negative side effects.
Boost those T levels with TestoPrime
A daily dose of TestoPrime contains all of these testosterone-boosting ingredients, plus several others for improved health and vitality—making it the easiest way to raise your testosterone and get your hormone levels back up to where they used to be. You can do it.