Men and women alike can suffer from testosterone deficiency and while it may not look exactly the same in both sexes, it can have some pretty profound effects! If your testosterone juices aren’t flowing you may experience symptoms such as: trouble losing weight, difficulty increasing muscle mass, loss of sex drive, difficulty achieving orgasm or even depression.
Before starting on testosterone boosting protocols, it’s important to get your hormone levels tested. Many times doctors see that your hormones aren’t clinically deficient (below the standard reference ranges), they’re just imbalanced. For example, testosterone gets converted into estrogen by an enzyme called aromatase. If your aromatase enzyme activity is increased, you’re going to have more of that testosterone being made into estrogen, and less available to be used as T! For women, a common scenario we see is increased SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) levels. SHBG is the transportation bus that testosterone is bound to, and allows it to freely circulate throughout the blood. The problem lies when you have too much SHBG, often from oral birth control pills, it doesn’t allow the testosterone to jump off and be utilized by the cells.
Testing your hormone levels takes the guesswork out of treatment, and can actually save you money by searching for the cause, and targeting your therapies where they are needed the most.
But if you’re in need of some more T, here are some strategies to boost it without a hormone prescription from your doc!
Nourish your adrenal glands
Did you know [a portion] of your sex hormones, and stress hormones are made by the same gland? Thats right, your adrenal glands. When your stress levels are too high, or you’ve constantly been stressed for a long period of time, your body has been taxed for all the cortisol it can get! When you don’t stop the stress at this point, you body steals from its sex hormones to make more cortisol (because evolutionary speaking, why do we need to reproduce if something stressful is happening.)
First action step chill the eff out. Second action step is to replenish and restore your adrenal glands. Restore your adrenal strength with herbs such as Ashwaghanda, Eleuthro, or Rhodiola and some vitamins such as vitamin C, and B5. Replenish some of your cortisol stores with an adrenal glandular supplement such as ITI adrenal-cortex fractions.
Correct nutritional deficiencies
If you have any underlying nutritional deficiencies, this could be the reason your T is low. Try increasing your dietary and supplemental sources of these:
- Magnesium has been shown to raise free and total testosterone levels in men, and makes what testosterone you do have easier to be used by your cells.
- Zinc, depending on your current levels, has been shown to increase your testosterone levels. This is an important one for men, as zinc is used in the testes as a cofactor to make other important hormones, including the hormone that stimulates sperm production.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is an important regulator of your sex hormones. It can influence your hypothalamus to decrease prolactin, a known inhibitor of testosterone. It also plays an important role in your dopamine (reward hormone) pathway. When you increase dopamine secretion, this can also increase your testosterone.
- DHEA is a hormone that is upstream, a precursor if you will, for making testosterone (in both men and women!) You can take DHEA as a supplement to increase the downstream effects.
Lose the excess weight
Did you know your fat tissue is actually its own endocrine organ? It has its own innate ability to convert testosterone to estrogens. Estrogens are a necessary hormone for both men and women, and sometimes it gets the reputation of the villain. Estrogen is really important in producing serotonin (the happiness hormone) and keeping vaginal tissue healthy and happy, however too much estrogen can cause you to get irritable and moody – but not in the mood for sex. Needless to say, decreasing your fat stores by specific dietary changes, exercise, and supportive vitamin therapies can help boost your testosterone by decreasing its conversion to estrogens.
Have you ever heard of the phrase “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it?” Well researchers are finding out that this might actually be true when it comes to your testosterone levels. Research studies have shown (no, I’m not joking) that after a man masterbates his levels of total and free testosterone increase. However, you get a bigger bang for your buck (see what I did there) on your testosterone levels with sexual intercourse over self-pleasuring methods alone.
If you’re hormones are on the low end and you’re not seeing results with boosting your T, Some other good questions to ask your doctor would be:
- Are the medications I’m taking causing my testosterone to decrease? There are certain medications that actually have anti-sex hormone effects and can cause your hormone levels to decline or has side effects of libido loss, hair loss, fatigue, etc.
- Do I have ENOUGH cholesterol to even make sex hormones? Cholesterol often gets a bad reputation, but it’s actually the ultimate precursor to creating sex hormones. Cholesterol is used in many different ways throughout the body, and honestly creating sex-hormones isn’t as essential as combating inflammation, aiding in repairing blood vessels, or creating bile acids to digest our foods.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.