The Low-T Epidemic: The Primary Causes of Low Testosterone in Men
Low testosterone is a condition that researchers suggest affects approximately one in four men over the age of 30. Though it is commonly associated with aging, low testosterone can be caused and exacerbated by a number of both internal and external factors. These factors include preexisting or developed health conditions, lifestyle choices, occupational and environmental hazards, medication use and more. Below are a few studied contributors to testosterone decline.
Health Conditions Associated with Low Testosterone
Obesity is epidemic in the U.S, affecting approximately 35 percent of adults over the age of 20. Obesity strains the body, impacting its ability to effectively perform its natural functions, so it is not surprising that obesity has been recognized as a leading contributor to diminishing testosterone in men. Experts believe a bidirectional relationship exists between testosterone levels and obesity. Whether stemming from poor diet and exercise habits or other conditions like metabolic syndrome, obesity has been known to cause fluctuations in natural hormone production. These hormonal fluctuations usually result in abnormal estrogen levels as well as increasing rates of testosterone conversion to DHT.
Type 2 Diabetes
This well-known health condition that has been closely associated with low testosterone. Various studies have confirmed that low testosterone is more prevalent in men with type 2 diabetes when compared with otherwise healthy men. A bidirectional relationship can also be seen between low-T and type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest that low testosterone may be an indicator of type 2 diabetes development and vice versa.
Thyroid disease, especially hypothyroidism, has been shown to decrease testosterone levels as well as the production LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) which are coincidentally necessary to trigger the production of testosterone. Because hypothyroidism is a fairly rare diagnosis in men, study evidence is limited.
Other Health-related Conditions
Other conditions often associated with testosterone deficiency are liver and kidney disease, hypertension, testicular or prostate cancer and HIV. Sexually transmitted diseases and infections have also been speculated causes of diminishing testosterone.
Medications Associated With Low Testosterone
There are a wide variety of medications that may interfere with the body’s ability to produce healthy amounts of testosterone. Among the top recognized classes are; chemotherapeutic agents used in the treatment of various forms of cancer, corticosteroids commonly used to treat pain and inflammation and opiates, another group of powerful narcotics administered for pain treatment.
Lifestyle Choices That Have Adverse Effects on Testosterone
Smoking and substance abuse have the power to affect most if not all of our natural bodily functions. Smoking and drug use overly expose the body to an array of chemical toxins and carcinogens that inhibit testosterone production. Studies have been conducted to form a definitive relationship between smoking and testosterone levels. At this time all findings are inconclusive. However, it is still recommended that those who smoke quit and limit alcohol consumption.
Poor dietary choices and lack of exercise have also been proven to have adverse effects on testosterone levels. However, these lifestyle choices are reversible. Maintaining reasonable exercise and healthy eating habits will help decrease chances of developing obesity-related complications and improve natural energy and testosterone production.
Environmental Toxins Associated With Diminishing Testosterone
Occupational exposure to environmental toxins is a known cause of testosterone decline. Overexposure to toxic metals such as mercury and lead have been proven to have effects on the pituitary gland’s secretion of the vital hormones LH and FSH which ultimately signal the production of testosterone. Overexposure to pesticides in the work environment and continued ingestion of contaminated foods also adversely affects overall reproductive health. Certain pesticides have been proven to mimic natural hormones in the body and block androgen receptors.
Other Inhibitors of Testosterone Production
Though it is a fairly normal and natural occurrence, aging has a definite effect on a male’s ability to naturally produce testosterone. Statistically, approximately 30 percent of men experience testosterone deficiency between the ages of 40 and 79. Low testosterone, especially in men between the ages of 60 and 79 may in some ways be attributed to other age-related health conditions.
Testicular Injury is among the top causes of low testosterone unrelated to reversible or irreversible health conditions. Most commonly, injuries to the scrotum or direct injury to the testes can inhibit natural production of testosterone. Since the testes are the center of testosterone production, any serious damage to the tissues, specifically vital leydig cells can have suppressing effects on testosterone.
This article was written for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose any health conditions or offer medical advice in place of that of a licensed physician.