There is something to worry about, testosterone levels have significantly decreased over the last few decades. And not only do the testosterone levels decline but also the quality of our sperm. Your grandfather or father may be computer illiterate, but his testosterone levels were probably much better. And for us, healthy T-levels are essential for having a good quality of life.
And it is normal that how older you get that your own testosterone levels are declining because, from the year 25, the average testosterone level is declining around 1% per year.
But more and more studies show that men’s average testosterone levels have declined over the past few decades.
And we are worried, and we hope you are too.
In this blog, we will talk about:
- The declining testosterone levels over the past few decades
- The reasons that cause testosterone decrease
- Why you need high testosterone.
- What you can do to increase testosterone levels
Declining testosterone levels
As stated before, more and more studies prove that the average testosterone level is declining.
One prominent study from 2007, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism revealed that the testosterone levels of American men were decreasing significantly since the 80s. Men around their 60s had a testosterone level of around 17.5nmol/L in the ’80s, in 2002 60-year-old men had an average testosterone level of 15nmol/L. That is a decrease of almost 15%, equating to 1% per year.
But also in Europe, we can see the same trend. Two individual studies, one for Danish and one for Finnish men, show the same trend, a decline in testosterone levels over the past few decades.
But the quality of our sperm is even declining faster. In a study from 2017, they researched sperm concentration (SC) and total sperm count (TSC). Between 1973 and 2011 the SC declined, on average 1,4% per year with an overall decline of 52,4%. The trend for TSC and SC were quite similar, the average decline of 1,6% per year comes down to a total decline of 59,3% in TSC.
But what is the reason for these strong declines? And can we still fight this or are we in a crisis?
We went down the rabbit hole to find answers, they are below…
The reason behind testosterone levels failing:
Obesity and overweight
Obesity and overweight play a very big role in de declining testosterone levels. Since 1975 worldwide obesity has nearly tripled . In 2016 more than 1,9 billion adults were overweight, 35% of these were obese. Obese lowers the total testosterone due to the insulin resistance-associated reductions in the sex hormone globulin. Low testosterone can lead to excessive accumulation of fat combined with an above-normal increase in body weight. This leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of metabolic complications.
This leads to another study done in 2007, where a one-point increase in BMI was associated with a 2% decrease in testosterone. And a 2008 study found that waist circumference was an even stronger predictor of low testosterone levels than BMI. A 10-centimeter increase in waist size increased the men’s potential of having a low testosterone level by 75%; for comparison, aging lowers your testosterone as well, but 10 years of age only increased the potential of lower testosterone levels by 36%.
Exposure to External Toxins
Studies are showing that there is a connection between microplastics and lower testosterone levels. And this is not weird when you realize back in the 70’s the annual global production of plastics was around 50 million tons whereas that is now around 300 million tons per year.
Many products we use contain EDCs (endocrine-disrupting chemicals). These chemicals are harmful to our body, the EDCs disturb our hormone balance which leads to lower testosterone levels. People can get exposed to EDCs in different ways, including air, the food we eat, and the water we drink. And EDCs can also enter our body through the skin.
The breakdown of some EDCs can take a very long time, they can eventually pile up in our bodies which will make them dangerous over time.
But in which products can you find EDCs?
- Plastic packing
- Personal Care Products, Medical Tubing, Sunscreen
- Non-stick pans
- Electronics (such as a smartphone in your pocket).
- Processed foods
- Soy-based products
- Cleaning supplies
EDCs are harmful to men’s healthy testosterone levels and their response to psychological stress, metabolism, reproduction, growth and development, and cancer.
Sleep deprivation and deficiency
Sleep deprivation is a condition that occurs when people don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deficiency is a more extensive concept. This occurs when you don’t sleep enough (deprivation), sleep at the wrong time of the day, you don’t sleep well or don’t have a good rhythm, or have a sleeping disorder.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that around 1 in 3 adults in the United States reported not getting enough sleep every day.
Different studies show that sleep deprivation drastically reduces a healthy man’s testosterone level. A study from 2011 of the University of Chicago Medical Center did a study where a group of young men had restricted sleep. Just one week of sleeping 5 hours a day lowered their testosterone levels by 10 to 15%, this is the same as 10 years of aging.
Sleep is very important for healthy testosterone levels, but sleep deficiency is also linked to many chronic health problems, heart diseases, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression.
Other factors that play a role in declining testosterone levels
The three reasons above are not the only reasons that our testosterone levels are declining.
There are also some other studies that show different answers to the depletion.
An Indian study from 2014 showed that when young adults did more exercise over a period of 12 weeks it showed that there was a significant increase in their testosterone.
This is in line with another study published in 2017 which showed that exercise training improved free testosterone.
Due to digitalization, we are moving a lot less than decades ago. We can order dinner, groceries, clothes, furniture, etc. all online and it’s delivered to your doorstep. We are leaving the house a lot less than back in the day.
The same for our work, we work more often behind our desks and can work from home, so sometimes we don’t even leave the house. And we didn’t even talk about the machines and automation which are taking over manual laboring.
Stress can also be a factor in decreasing testosterone. In a study where men were exposed to stressful conditions, their testosterone levels were declining.
A study published in 2019 showed that alcohol abuse also leads to lowering T levels and sperm conditions.
There are a lot of reasons why our testosterone levels may be declining. But we can’t pinpoint one reason, a combination of different factors in our environment, lifestyle, and behavior will probably be the reason.
Where do you need Testosterone for?
Testosterone is essential for our health and plays a role in different functions in our body. Testosterone is primarily responsible for the development of men’s characteristics. Men have a much higher concentration of testosterone in their bodies compared to women, that’s why it’s often called a male hormone.
Testosterone is our entire life necessary and plays a different role in different faces in a man’s life cycle. But for adult men, testosterone helps for:
- Muscle mass and strength
- Fat distribution
- Sex drive (libido)
- Red blood cell production
- Sperm production
- Bone density
- Facial and body hair
- Work ethos and motivation
What you can do to increase testosterone levels
There are different things you can do to sustain healthy testosterone levels. First of all, you can look at the causes of testosterone and lowering and prevent as many of these causes as possible. This means:
- Work on healthy body weight.
- Avoid exposure to external toxins (EDCs) as much as possible.
- Sleep enough in a healthy rhythm
- Do more exercise
- Weight training
- Lower stress levels
But these are not the only things you can do to boost your T-levels. There are some other natural ways to boost your testosterone.
- Improving your diet. This means eating not too frequently to reduce blood sugar spikes, eating enough vegetables and fruits, whole grain carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lean protein. Also, avoid too much-processed foods with lots of refined simple carbohydrates and vegetable oils.
- Getting in more sunlight boosts vit D3, this is because vit D3 plays a role in sperm motility and testosterone production. Unfortunately, about 42% of adults are vitamin D deficient. When you can’t get enough sunlight vitamin D supplementation might be a great option for you.
Supplements that boost Testosterone:
- Zinc helps improve natural healthy testosterone levels in men. Supplementing zinc can be beneficial for men’s sexual health, zinc is also necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes in our body
- Magnesium helps with improving the testosterone levels of men. It is also one of the minerals that around 80% of people have a deficiency in, so supplementing isn’t a bad thing to do either way
- Beef testicles‘ primary role is to produce testosterone. Testicles produce many unique enzymes, hormones, and precursors that nourish and support testicle health and sperm production. Beef testicles contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and protein. They contain minerals like potassium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Zinc helps improve natural testosterone levels as stated before.
Our ancestors used to eat testicles because it gave them power. Ancient Olympic dopers got their pre-Games hormone boost from chewing on raw animal testicles . And not only do our ancestors eat testicles also wild predators such as lions and tigers will go for the testicles or liver first after catching their prey. And they do this because they know that these organs are the most nutrient dense of the whole animal.
Testosterone replacement Therapy:
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) or androgen replacement therapy is used to treat low testosterone levels, it can help men get a better quality of life.
The potential benefits of TRT are:
- Improve sexual desire and function.
- Increase bone mineral density.
- Improve mood, energy, and quality of life
- Change body composition and improve muscle mass and strength.
- Improve cognitive function.
The potential risk of TRT:
- Stimulate the growth of prostate cancer and breast cancer.
- Worsen symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy.
- Cause liver toxicity and liver tumor.
- Cause gynecomastia
- Cause erythrocytosis (having a high concentration of red blood cells, making your blood thicker).
- Cause testicular atrophy and infertility (shrinking balls).
- Cause skin diseases
- Cause or exacerbate sleep apnea.
Before going on TRT you should always have a good conversation with your doctor about the pros and cons, and to look if you really have problems with your T-levels before going on TRT. Also should the treatment be assessed to look at the response of the body. If there is no improvement of symptoms and signs, treatment should be discontinued.
Improving your testosterone levels starts with a healthy lifestyle, healthy diet, exercising and enough sleep. Supplements can give you extra support to increase your testosterone levels.
‘Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ – Hippocrates.