Now you might think that testosterone is purely a male hormone, but you would be wrong! Women produce and need testosterone as well. For men a lack of testosterone is usually more obvious. When they hit ‘that time of life’, that is, male menopause or andropause, it’s their testosterone, as well as flagging levels of DHEA and thyroid hormones accompanied by rising oestrogen levels that can produce a host of symptoms. This can include weight gain, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, reduced memory/concentration, poor job performance, low fitness, diminished bone density, and an increase in cholesterol, fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, backaches/stiffness.
So why should women be concerned about their testosterone levels? Testosterone is what puts the tiger in us! A decrease in testosterone levels can lead to a loss of muscle mass. As muscle burns more calories than fat, increasing testosterone levels can help reverse this muscle loss and put simply, this can help with weight loss. It is helped by the fact that testosterone improves insulin sensitivity which results in reduced insulin levels. Decreasing insulin levels promotes weight loss because elevated levels of insulin cause fat synthesis and inhibit the breakdown of fat.
- Get more sleep – this promotes testosterone production.
- Increase your protein intake whilst making sure you are producing or supplementing with adequate digestive acid (Betaine hydrochloride) and enzymes (protease) to actually digest and absorb the protein. For vegetarians, a whole carob or pea protein shake (with no/little carbohydrate content) made on oat, almond or coconut milk is preferable.
- Make sure you are getting enough zinc (if you need to supplement – and a high percentage of the population are zinc deficient – use zinc citrate for its superior absorption and bioavailability). Zinc has a feedback effect with hydrochloric acid – if you don’t have enough acid in your stomach you won’t absorb zinc very well, and if you don’t have enough zinc you won’t produce enough stomach acid. A real “Catch 22” situation.
- Hit the weights at the gym – increasing muscle mass/tone can increase your production of testosterone.
Your testosterone levels can be easily measured by your specialist. Where necessary you may be given a prescription for bio-identical testosterone replacement which must be monitored regularly to ensure that your body isn’t converting it all to oestrogen, which is not desirable for men! This can readily be rectified if that is the case.
Many men are concerned that testosterone treatment will cause prostate cancer. However, research has shown that for men with values of testosterone AND oestradiol in the mid-range there is almost no risk and in fact may protect against prostate cancer. Low levels of testosterone, on the other hand, may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. If you are undertaking testosterone treatment, then these levels should be checked regularly by your treating doctor.
Since testosterone works in concert with many other hormones (see the chart below), just replacing it by itself may not give all the desired results. Unfortunately, it is not just a case of taking testosterone for you could be unwittingly putting yourself in the firing line for more complications down the track as discussed above.
And a word of caution about ordering supplements over the internet – a) you cannot always be assured of their purity or efficacy and, b) even if you are having blood tests done as well over the internet, sometimes clinical signs and symptoms do not match the blood work. Nothing can replace having a thorough history taken and being examined by your doctor who will put all this together with the results of your tests and discuss with you what treatment may benefit you.
Hormone Flow Chart – note the start hormone is Cholesterol!
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this page are based upon the opinions of Dr. Russell & Dorit d’Scarlett and other contributors unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retainscopyright as marked. The information on this page is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified medical doctor, specialist or health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr.Russell and his community. Dr. Russell encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.