Testosterone Supplements are all the rage with a lot of men who want to increase muscle mass and strength. They’ve become increasingly known and used since body builders started using them. There has been a five-fold increase in prescriptions in the last 10 years.
Many men are now turning to hormone therapy to deal with problems labelled as being “ageing” – problems that are as much to do with modern lifestyles as with getting older. This is often referred to as andropause.
Did you know that in Australia 1 in 5 males over the age of 40 years have erectile dysfunction? 1 in 20 males are infertile and 1 in 200 have low testosterone – this can show up as depression, low energy and motivation, cardiovascular disease, substance abuse etc.
Is low testosterone cause or symptom?
Like an oil leak in a car – JUST topping up hormones without finding the cause can have undesirable results.
It’s still being investigated as to which comes first. Does low testosterone cause diseases – or does chronic, underlying disease causing low testosterone?
Evidence seems to be pointing to the latter. A recent Adelaide study MAILES supports this. It is suggested that there is a deliberate dial down of testosterone by the body when it is unwell. It makes sense (from an evolutionary point of view) to reduce fertility in an unfit/unwell body.
Testosterone supplements aren’t magic bullets
Although there has been a 5 fold increase in testosterone prescriptions over the last 10 years there have been only small improvements in cognition, mood and insulin resistance (pre-diabetes).
There are also increasing concerns about side effects – as more and more men opt for supplements, side effects are showing up:
- Breast enlargement
- Fluid retention
- Increased risk of prostate abnormalities
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Increased aggression
Before you supplement, check for other causes
Like a racing car, hormones are under delicate control and balance in your body. Adding in more chemicals can do more harm than good.
There are 4 main reasons why your body may dial down testosterone via the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Gonadal axis – (HPG for short):
These are Obesity; Stress and poor sleep; Poor Nutrition & Lowered energy; Dysbiosis & toxicity.
- Obesity: now affecting about 60% of our population; if your waist is greater than 95cm (for men), lose weight!
The fat cells secrete leptin and inflammation promoting cytokines. These are cells that reduce the well-being of the HPG axis. Metabolic issues like hypertension and cholesterol issues and pre-diabetes can influence this down trend of testosterone.
Losing weight by 10% has been shown to increase testosterone by 2-3 points.
- Stress and poor sleep: Sleep apnoea and frequent night-time urinating can effect testosterone levels. Numerous herbs can be beneficial like the Ginsengs – Panax and Withania, nervines like Passionflower, Scullcap, Valerian etc.
- Poor nutrition: Lack of certain Nutrients like Zinc and Magnesium influences testosterone production. If you’re eating on the run and avoiding those vegetables, then some dietary advice may remedy the situation
- Poor gut health (called dysbiosis): An imbalance in the gut bacteria, anywhere from the mouth to the intestines, can upset the HPG axis. Poor food choices, stress and rushing can make this worse.
Don’t just top up hormones and hope
Before you try Testosterone supplements, do a full checkup of your health, including blood tests for diabetes, nutritional deficiencies and hormone levels.
If you’re on Testosterone supplements, but not getting the results you hope for, dig a bit deeper.
A consultation with your local naturopath could give you new insight, and help you get back to being your full self without “male HRT”.