Testosterone is the most important of the sex hormones in men, and having a healthy testosterone level is essential for good health. Testosterone is often overlooked by men who are not athletes because of the association that it has with bodybuilding and performance sports. The truth, however, is that every man needs testosterone; it does far more than just build muscles!
The Importance of Testosterone
Men’s bodies and women’s bodies are very different, and there are many health issues that affect men either more often than women, or in a different way, and a lot of the time the key difference is hormones.1 Testosterone belongs to a family of hormones known as androgens, and it is something that contributes to the male sex drive, and also helps men to build muscle, determines where fat is stored, and even helps to make red blood cells.2
Both men and women have some testosterone, but during puberty, men start to produce a lot more, and this is why men’s bodies start to change, as they grow body hair, their fat distribution changes, their bones become denser, and they become more muscular. As men get older, their testosterone levels start to fall, and by their mid-40s testosterone production will be dropping by about one percent per year.3
If a man is not producing enough testosterone, then they may notice a general feeling of low energy, a reduction in their sex drive, a loss of muscle mass, and difficulty sleeping.4 Low testosterone can be caused by a number of issues, including problems with the pituitary gland and the testicles. The issue can also be a side-effect of certain kinds of medication or can be caused by drug or alcohol abuse.5,6,7
Treating Low Testosterone
If someone goes to the doctor complaining of common symptoms of low testosterone then their doctor may recommend that they get a ‘Total testosterone test’. If this test shows low testosterone levels then they will be invited back for a second test to confirm the results. In general, young men should have the test early in the morning, because that is when their testosterone levels are at their highest. With older men, the timing of the test does not matter as much, as their level of male sex hormones should be fairly steady throughout the day.8
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If it is found that a man has low testosterone, then they may be given testosterone replacement therapy, however, this is something that should be done carefully, because there is some risk of serious side-effects. Testosterone replacement therapy is still relatively new so the long term dangers are not fully understood, but it is thought that there may be some impact on cardiovascular health, as well as increased risk of prostate cancer. Doctors will weigh the potential risks and benefits on a case-by-case basis.9
Natural Ways to Manage Testosterone Levels
Testosterone replacement therapy is not the only option. For someone who does not have a serious underlying medical condition, it is often possible to slightly boost testosterone production using natural methods. This can be a good option for someone who has low energy or a low libido, but who is not considered to have clinically low testosterone levels. Remember that what is acceptable for testosterone is a range, and ‘normal’ on the charts may still be lower than is comfortable for any given person.
You can help to improve your testosterone levels with a number of simple lifestyle changes such as:
– Getting enough exercise, especially resistance training.10
– Getting enough sleep.11
– Following a healthy diet.12
The above tips may seem like the advice that is given for almost every imaginable condition, but that’s because it works. Testosterone is used to build muscle, and when you are engaged in resistance training it sends signals to your body that more testosterone is needed. It’s a positive feedback loop, so the stronger you are, the more testosterone your body will want to produce.
While you are sleeping, your body repairs itself and produces the hormones that it needs. If you are sleep-deprived, then your testosterone levels may fall. Your body needs nutrients to make hormones, and to make testosterone you need the right balance of macronutrients, including fats. If your diet doesn’t have sufficient healthy fats, then that may be reflected in low testosterone levels.13
Essential Oils and Supplements
There are no over-the-counter testosterone boosters that will work for someone who has clinically low testosterone, but there are some herbal remedies that could help to improve your testosterone if you are generally healthy and are simply suffering from some nutrient deficiencies. If you are looking at using testosterone boosters, however, you should consult your doctor first, because even those that come from ‘trusted’ sources could present some health risks.14
Some essential oils could have a beneficial effect on male wellbeing, and help to improve some of the lifestyle factors listed above, however other essential oils such as lavender and tea tree oil may be hormone disruptors that could have an adverse effect on testosterone levels.15 Using other essential oils such as rose oil (thought to have a protective effect against testicular damage) or sandalwood for its relaxing and revitalizing properties could help to improve overall well-being.16 Blends like MONQ’s refillable Ocean R can be beneficial to men’s feelings of well-being and health.
Aging vs Illness
Men should be proactive about monitoring their health and wellbeing and going to the doctor if they feel that there is something wrong. While it is normal for testosterone levels to fall slightly with age, this does not mean that it is inevitable to ‘feel tired and weak’ as you get older. With exercise and a healthy diet it is possible to stave off the effects of aging for a fairly long time. If you feel that there is something wrong then it is important that you seek professional medical advice, to get peace of mind and rule out any potentially serious health conditions.
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