How can I boost my testosterone levels?
Testosterone is a hormone that’s vital for sexual development and normal growth throughout our lives.
Despite its importance, though, men tend to put too much emphasis on testosterone and its benefits. Many believe that you need high testosterone to be confident, strong and virile. By that same logic, many think that having poor health and a decreased sex drive are caused by low testosterone.
Although there can be some truth to this, the average, healthy man will have completely normal testosterone levels. Testosterone levels do decline as we age, but this happens very gradually, which means it’s unlikely to cause significant physical or sexual issues.
For this reason, most men don’t need to “boost” their testosterone levels by taking supplements or medication. The only reason you would need to increase your testosterone is if you have hypogonadism, a deficiency cause by the testicles producing little or no testosterone.
What are the symptoms of low testosterone?
In adult men, the symptoms of low testosterone caused by hypogonadism include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of sex drive and infertility
- Decrease in muscle mass and bone density
- Loss of facial and body hair
- Development of breast tissue
It’s normal for men to experience these kinds of symptoms in their later years, because there is a natural, slow decline in testosterone production. However, in men with hypogonadism symptoms will come on suddenly, and usually much earlier than they should.
What is the treatment for low testosterone?
If you think you have low testosterone you should make an appointment with your GP rather than taking “natural remedies” or finding medication online from an unlicensed shop.
Your GP can arrange a blood test to check your testosterone levels, or you can use an at-home blood test. If appropriate, your GP can refer you to a specialist for hormone replacement therapy. As with treatment for the female menopause, a deficiency of testosterone can be treated with testosterone tablets, patches, gels, implants or injections.
Do “testosterone boosting” supplements work?
There are lots of “natural” or “herbal” remedies that are touted on the internet as testosterone boosters. But the truth is, there’s rarely enough evidence to suggest that these kinds of remedies have the effects they claim to.
While they may not have a harmful effect, so-called testosterone boosters are unlikely to do anything for your symptoms.
Do anabolic steroids increase your testosterone?
Anabolic steroids are a type of medication that mimic the effects of testosterone.
They’re known as performance-enhancing drugs because they’re used by bodybuilders and athletes in an unlicensed way to lose excess fat, and build strength and muscle mass. Some men like to use steroids because they promote masculine traits and increase muscle mass.
However, when used to excess in an unlicensed way, anabolic steroids can have many unwanted physical effects. In men, they can cause erectile dysfunction, shrunken testicles, infertility, baldness, acne and serious mood swings. Find out more here.
How to combat symptoms of “the male menopause”
The kinds of symptoms we start to experience as we age are sometimes called “the male menopause”. They include losing muscle mass, experiencing mood changes, and having a lower sex drive.
It’s not always easy to pinpoint the exact causes of these symptoms – often it’s a combination of many different things that are just a natural part of growing older. However, many may be caused by stress, depression, anxiety and living an unhealthy lifestyle.
The first step is always to visit your GP to talk through what you’re experiencing. If appropriate, they might want to check your testosterone levels, but they may also want to run some general tests to see how good your general health is.
It may be that an underlying issue like cardiovascular disease or diabetes is contributing to symptoms and causing problems like erectile dysfunction. Or it may be that you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed or sad about events at work or in your personal life.
While there’s rarely a quick fix for the symptoms described above, there are some things you can do to improve your physical and mental health:
- Get more exercise
- Improve your sleep routine
- Eat a healthier diet
- Cut back on alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Try counselling or therapy
In the short term, erectile dysfunction tablets like Viagra and Cialis may be able to improve your sex life. Find out more here.