Testosterone is the male sex hormone that plays a major role in male development. This includes the development of the penis and testes, the deepening of the voice during puberty, and the appearance of facial and pubic hair,
Testosterone also plays a major role in muscle size and strength, bone growth and strength, sex drive (libido), and sperm production. Many men are also surprised to learn that testosterone is major factor in mood, energy, and motivation.
Production of the hormone is a process of the brain triggering a signal to the pituitary gland that signals the testes to produce testosterone. There is an auto regulated feedback loop of how much testosterone is in the blood.
Too much and the brain slows down production. Too little and it increases production.
Properly defining “low” and high testosterone is not an exact science. Having “too much” testosterone is very rare and most information on this
subject comes from men on anabolic steroids.
Low levels of testosterone, however, has become a hot topic in recent years.
Dr. Ben House from Deconstruct Nutrition recently wrote that he has uncovered over 20 root causes for low testosterone in men:
• Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
• Testicular trauma
• Fetal microenvironment
• Drug side effects
• Environmental estrogenic & anti-androgenic compounds
• Low energy availability
• Low body fat percentage
• Micronutrient deficiencies
• Being overweight, obese, overfat, and/or having chronically high energy availability
• Mitochondrial dysfunction
• Chronic inflammation
• Sleep debt or sleep apnea
• Chronic stress
• Overtraining and under-recovering
• Previous anabolic steroid use
• Marriage, fatherhood, and cosleeping
Of all potential reasons, Dr. House notes, “Obesity is considered the single most common cause of testosterone deficiency in the developed world, with more than half of all obese men having testosterone deficiency.”
Before addressing how to eliminate low testosterone, there are two
types of testosterone to be aware of: Total Testosterone and Free Testosterone.
As the name suggests, Total Testosterone is the sum of all testosterone
produced by the body. Of the total testosterone in your body, 98% of it is bound to sex-hormone binding globulin (SBGH), or albumin, referred to as “bound testosterone.”
The remaining 2% of unbound testosterone is referred to as Free Testosterone. When absorbed by cells, Free Testosterone enables cell replication in bones and muscles as well as secondary sexual characteristics like a deep voice and
When testing testosterone levels, Total Testosterone may sound like the
number you want to see in the higher ranges. However, excessive bound
testosterone can create an ecosystem where Total Testosterone can be at
healthy numbers while Free Testosterone is too low resulting in decreased
muscle mass, bone density, low libido, and a host of low testosterone
symptoms. For this reason, it is critical to test for Total and Free Testosterone levels for hormone optimization and health.