Sexual Health Q&A
Yes. In some cases, men can raise their testosterone levels by changing some lifestyle habits.
Low testosterone can have a variety of causes. Sometimes, there are problems in parts of the body involved with testosterone production, such as the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, or the testes. Men’s testosterone levels naturally decline as they get older, too.
Symptoms of low testosterone include diminished sex drive, loss of muscle mass, weakness, and moodiness. While testosterone replacement therapy may help, some men find that their symptoms improve by following healthy habits.
Improve sleep hygiene
A man’s body makes testosterone while he’s sleeping. As a result, the less he sleeps, the less testosterone his body will produce. In a 2011 study of younger men, researchers found that after one week of reduced sleep, testosterone levels decreased by 10% to 15%.
For better sleep, men might consider the following tips:
- Make sleep a priority, with a goal of seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.
- Relax and “unplug” at bedtime. Avoid using electronics like televisions, smartphones, and tablets.
- Cut down on caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Exercise regularly.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
- Manage stress, and ask for help if necessary.
- See a doctor if sleep problems persist.
Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity is also related to low testosterone. Normally, some of a man’s testosterone converts to another hormone called estrogen. This process typically happens in fat cells. So being overweight or obese can increase the amount of testosterone converted to estrogen and, in turn, decrease overall testosterone levels.
To keep weight under control, men are advised to:
- Eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid sugars and processed foods.
- Watch portion sizes.
- Exercise regularly and stay active.
- Discuss any concerns with a doctor, nutritionist, or fitness specialist.
Ask a doctor about your current medications
Testosterone production can be impaired by some medications (such as opiates for pain) and hormones. Changing drugs or doses may help, but this step should always be taken with a doctor’s guidance.
Avoid anabolic steroids and supplements
Anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing drugs can interfere with testosterone production and should be avoided.
Supplements that claim to boost testosterone levels should be avoided as well. While these products are easy to buy online or at a pharmacy, they are not always effective. They may also contain ingredients that can cause harmful interactions with drugs a man is already taking. Sometimes, these ingredients are not listed on the product packaging.
Men should always consult their doctor before taking any type of supplement.
For men with low testosterone symptoms, seeing a doctor is always a good idea. A thorough physical exam may reveal other possible reasons for low testosterone, such as inflammation or infection. A doctor can make recommendations and tailor treatment to the individual.
Previous question: What are normal testosterone levels in men?