Recent research has shown that testosterone levels in men are lower than ever. What’s happening?
* Numerous studies have shown that testosterone levels in men are much lower than they were just a few decades back.
* Although most men have normal levels of testosterone, their reduction can lead to many health problems.
* Although the cause of the drop in testosterone may not be completely understood, evidence suggests it to be a result of modern industrialized life.
Think back to Frank Sinatra’s charisma, John Wayne’s quiet confidence and Burt Reynold’s impressive mustache. Many people today look to them as icons of masculinity when they feel the loss of masculinity in society.
Frank Sinatra was known for his violent temper, John Wayne was a racist and Burt Reynolds was a womanizer. They all drank a lot. Our values have evolved more than the legendary qualities of “manliness.” However, it is possible to argue that men were more masculine back in the past.
An American study that examined a large number of men revealed that testosterone levels have been falling by as much as 1% per year. Although testosterone levels naturally decline with age, this study showed that a 65 year old man had 17 percent more testosterone in 1987 than a 65 year old man in 2004. The findings weren’t limited to Americans; a Danish study also found similar results. Anecdotally Ian Kerner, a sex counselor, told CNN that he has noticed an increase in young men complaining about sexual concerns such as diminished libido or erectile dysfunction, which is more common among older men.
Some people opt to have testosterone therapy to inject the testosterone that their bodies are unable to produce.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE?
It is not a catastrophe. Even though testosterone levels are declining year by year, most men still have healthy levels. If testosterone levels drop too low, we can see a host of negative effects.
Testosterone improves memory, attention, spatial reasoning and energy. It also increases libido, muscle mass, and libido. Low Testosterone levels can cause fatigue, loss of sexual interest, weight gain, and muscle mass loss. Low testosterone levels can also be linked to depression.
Low testosterone levels are also associated with disease. A spring study found that those with a testosterone deficit (defined as less then 300 nanograms per deciliter of testosterone) are more likely to develop obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other diseases. This is only correlational data. It is very difficult to prove that low testosterone causes these adverse outcomes. These very undesirable conditions can be prevented by doing activities that increase testosterone.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE?
Although it is not clear why testosterone counts have been dropping over the years, there are likely explanations. A surprising possibility is the fact that people are less likely to smoke cigarettes. Despite all the negative effects it has on your health, smoking raises testosterone levels. Smoking was not an exception in Frank Sinatra’s time. Please, do not light up just to look better. It is a bad idea.
Probably, our rising obesity rates are also contributing. The obesity rate in American adults has increased by almost 10 percent between 1999 and 2016. The vicious circle of obesity and testosterone is that obese men have lower testosterone levels and obese men are more likely to be obese. Because fat cells convert testosterone into estrogen, this is what happens. Additionally, people who are obese have lower levels SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), which transports testosterone through their blood.
Pollution is the most likely candidate. Recent research has shown that pesticides and medicine chemicals can inhibit testosterone. These chemicals seep into our waterways, causing fertility problems for fish. Researchers speculate that the same phenomenon could also be occurring in humans.
Research on Native American tribes also found that males with higher levels of polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in their systems were associated with lower testosterone. Although we know that PCBs can be toxic for many years, the chemical remains active for quite a while. Other chemicals such as bisphenol A (a plastic) or triclosan, an antibacterial agent, have been found to disrupt the human hormonal system. They either mimic estrogen or block the activity of testosterone. It is very difficult to get rid of chemicals like these once they have entered the environment and become part of the food chain.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Good news: Although the factors that lower testosterone levels in men may seem complicated, it is easy to combat this problem. Get a good night’s rest, eat a healthy diet and exercise more. Avoid plastic containers if you want to go that extra mile. Get political. When environmental regulations are ignored, so is your health. Contrary to popular belief, being a treehugger could be the best thing to save your masculinity.
Check out this interesting article on another men’s health topic: Can erectile dysfunction be cured?