Testosterone is a hormone that plays a crucial role in the development and maintenance of male characteristics, such as muscle mass, bone density, and sex drive. As men age, their testosterone levels naturally decline, but certain factors can contribute to lower testosterone levels at a younger age. In this article, we'll explore some of the common things that can decrease testosterone levels in men.
Testosterone levels naturally decrease as men age, typically starting in their mid-30s. According to the American Urological Association, testosterone levels in men decrease by an average of 1% per year after the age of 30. While this decline is a normal part of aging, some men may experience more significant decreases in testosterone levels, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, decreased sex drive, and decreased muscle mass.1,2
Excess body fat can lead to lower testosterone levels in men. Fat cells convert testosterone into estrogen, leading to a hormonal imbalance that can further decrease testosterone production. According to the National Institutes of Health, men with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher are more likely to have low testosterone levels.3
Prolonged stress can lead to increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which can inhibit the production of testosterone. Cortisol is often referred to as the "stress hormone," and it can have a negative impact on several aspects of health, including testosterone levels. Managing stress through relaxation techniques, exercise, and social support may help maintain healthy testosterone levels.4
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is crucial for maintaining healthy testosterone levels, as sleep deprivation can lead to lower testosterone production. Men with sleep apnea may be at increased risk of low testosterone levels because sleep apnea can cause interrupted sleep and low oxygen levels, both of which can decrease testosterone production. Treating sleep apnea through lifestyle changes or medical intervention may help improve testosterone levels.5
A diet high in processed foods and low in nutrients can negatively impact testosterone levels. Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats may help support healthy testosterone levels. Additionally, certain nutrients, such as zinc and vitamin D, are important for testosterone production and may be lacking in a poor diet.6
Heavy alcohol consumption can decrease testosterone production. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, chronic alcohol use can lead to hypogonadism, a condition where the body doesn't produce enough testosterone. Limiting alcohol consumption to moderate levels (up to two drinks per day for men) may help maintain healthy testosterone levels.7
Certain medications can decrease testosterone levels in men. For example, opioids, glucocorticoids, and some medications used to treat prostate cancer can lower testosterone levels. If you are taking medication that may be affecting your testosterone levels, speak with your healthcare provider about alternative options or strategies to manage symptoms.8
In conclusion, there are several things that can decrease testosterone levels in men, including age, obesity, chronic stress, lack of sleep (especially due to sleep apnea), poor diet, heavy alcohol consumption, and certain medications. If you are concerned about your testosterone levels, speak with your healthcare provider about testing and potential treatment options. Making lifestyle changes, such as managing stress, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet, may also help support healthy testosterone levels.