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January 11, 2013

Testosterone Levels: Why They Decline

testosterone levelsThe Decline in Testosterone Levels

Testosterone levels are falling. Testosterone levels are falling. That’s right. In the US testosterone levels have declined substantially over the 20 year period from 1987 to 2007. It’s not clear entirely why there has been such a population drop in testosterone in men. Theories include some unknown health-related or environmental factor.

But there are known reasons why testosterone levels decline in an individual which we are going to discuss.

Why Low Testosterone Levels Are Unhealthy

Lower testosterone levels in men are associated with higher rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. In addition, low testosterone is associated with a host of sexual and non-sexual symptoms. Testosterone levels decline with aging, but that decline appears to be more related to lifestyle habits and disease more so than the aging process itself.

Factors That Lower Testosterone Levels

  • Chronic diseases including obesity and diabetes.
  • Too much aromataste enzyme.
  • Too much sex-hormone binding globulin.
  • Abnormal liver function.
  • Narcotic pain medication use.
  • Declining DHEA levels.

Chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity inhibit LH (lutenizing hormone). LH stimulates the testes to make testosterone. Therefore, diabetics and obese individuals make less testosterone.

Aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, thus decreasing testosterone levels. Aromatase levels are high in belly fat providing another reason why over fat individuals have lower testosterone levels. Aromatase activity can be blocked with certain medications called aromatase inhibitors.

Sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) that binds testosterone making it unavaiable for the body to use. SHBG naturally increases with age. Fish oil and vitamin D can lower SHBG. Stinging nettle and Muira puama, two herbs, are reported lower SHBG. Sugar increase SHBG. So avoid sugar as much as possible.

Abnormal liver function hinders the removal of SHBG. A healthy liver removes SHBG making more testosterone available to the body. Liver function can be adversely affected by medications, alcohol, and infection.

Narcotic pain medications inhibit LH just like diabetes and obesity do leading to lower testosterone levels. The effect of these narcotic pain medications on testosterone levels is not well recognized by the medical community.

DHEA is a hormone that can be converted into estrogen or testosterone. DHEA levels begin to decline in both men and women during the early 20s. DHEA has many of its own health benefits. However, DHEA supplementation in men does not lead to significant improvement in testosteone levels. But, it can raise testosterone levels enough in women to be used for that sole purpose.

See related articles.

Decline In Testosterone Not A Part Of Normal Aging

Nonsexual Symptoms Of Low T

Diabetes and Low Testosterone

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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