Testosterone is the hormone that makes a man, a man. It was a rush of it throughout your body while in the womb that created all of your masculine mental and physical characteristics and a secondary rush during puberty that lead to even more male sexual traits. But, as we age, our testosterone levels tend to decrease by about 1% every year after the age of 35, and about 10% every decade.
Although this is completely normal, some men experience an even greater loss of testosterone levels. Decrease in testosterone can lead to erectile dysfunction or the lack of ability to achieve an erection altogether. Erectile dysfunction is not an isolated problem. Sexual dysfunction can lead to a host of other problems including, depression, denial and problems with work and romantic relationships. In addition, men may also experience decreased bone density, weight gain and an overall lack of energy.
Now, besides the slow decrease in testosterone levels due to the aging process, what are some other ways in which a man’s testosterone levels can be negatively affected?
Alcohol – Studies from the New England Journal of Medicine have shown that alcohol suppresses testosterone by increasing the breakdown and removal of testosterone from the blood and decreases testosterone production rate. For healthy testosterone levels, the average man shouldn’t have more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks on a daily basis.
Medications – Certain medications can damage testosterone production by damaging the nervous, vascular system or endocrine system. Medications that are known to cause this damage are: anti-hypertensives (Inderal, Clonidine, Reserpine, Lasix, etc.); antidepressants (SSRI’s, tricyclics, MAOI’s, etc.); tranquilizers (Haldol, Thorazine, Zyprexa, Seroquel, etc.); and anticholinergics (Benadryl, Donnatal, Pro-Banthine, Cogentin, etc.).
Sarcoidosis – Sarcoidosis is a disorder that causes tiny nodules (granulomas) of inflamed tissue to develop in the body’s organs. These nodules can join together, forming larger nodules that interfere with normal body functions. Sarcoidosis of the testicles can cause a sharp decrease of testosterone production and lead to infertility.
Male testosterone production can be affected by many other conditions, such as chronic illness, chemotherapy, pituitary gland disorders or trauma to the head or testicles. If you think you may be suffering from low testosterone, consult a physician at Boston Medical Group because low testosterone levels can frequently be part of a greater and, possibly, more serious health issue.