Does the word “testosterone” make you think of a bodybuilder with rock-hard abs and rippling muscles? Or perhaps a high-performance athlete who trains for hours every day.
The word testosterone is often associated with male characteristics like muscles and strength, but the truth is that it plays a highly varied role in male health and wellness. Keep reading to learn more about what testosterone really is, how it impacts male health, and how to naturally boost your testosterone.
What is Testosterone, Anyway?
As you probably already know, testosterone is the hormone responsible for male characteristics (including sexual characteristics) such as body hair and facial hair, muscle mass, and low voice. In addition to playing a role in these characteristics, testosterone is also responsible for regulating certain functions in the male body including the following:
- Sex drive and libido
- Muscle size and strength
- Fat distribution
- Bone mass
- Red blood cell production
Perhaps most importantly, however, it plays a role in sperm production and fertility. Without adequate testosterone levels, a man becomes infertile.
Low testosterone levels can also contribute to a variety of other sexual side effects including low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
What Does Testosterone Do in the Male Body?
Testosterone is produced in the gonads in men, though both men and women see some testosterone production by the adrenal glands. This hormone is also known as an androgen which simply means that it is associated with the development of male versus female characteristics – estrogen is responsible for the development of female characteristics. During fetal development, testosterone triggers the development of both internal and external male reproductive organs and, later in life, plays a role in sperm production and fertility.
But what else does testosterone do in the male body? Here are some of the other ways testosterone affects male health:
- Testosterone aids in red blood cell production which is important for cardiovascular health – men with normal testosterone levels have a much lower risk for heart attack and stroke.
- It plays a role in building muscle and maintaining lean muscle mass – men with low testosterone who receive supplemental treatment show an increase in muscle size and strength.
- Testosterone plays a role in bone mineral density, particularly as you age – testosterone levels drop as you age which can be correlated with a decrease in bone density.
- Higher testosterone levels have been associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease – there is also a correlation with faster processing speeds and improved verbal memory.
- Low testosterone levels have been associated with low mood and a poorer quality of life – symptoms may include depression, irritability, and fatigue.
Maintaining adequate testosterone levels throughout life is very important for men, especially considering that testosterone levels naturally decrease with age. Keep reading to learn some simple tips for naturally boosting your testosterone levels.
Tips for Naturally Boosting Testosterone Levels
Keeping your testosterone levels high is not just important for sexual health and libido – it also plays a role in body composition, disease risk, and general health and quality of life. If you’re looking for a natural way to boost your testosterone levels, here are some simple tips:
- Exercise regularly. Cardiovascular exercise is important for healthy circulation, but resistance training has been shown to have the greatest benefits for boosting testosterone, both long-term and short-term.
- Eat a healthy diet. Yo-yo dieting and overeating can disrupt testosterone levels, so aim for a healthy diet with a balance of protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates.
- Manage your stress. Chronic stress can increase cortisol production which reduces testosterone levels, so take time to relax and reduce your stress as much as possible.
- Get some vitamin D. This vitamin has been shown to naturally boost testosterone, so get your daily dose of natural sunlight to boost vitamin D production and consider taking a supplement, if needed.
- Focus on sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to a reduction in testosterone, so make sleep a priority and aim for 7 to 8 hours a night of quality rest.
- Take some supplements. Some natural testosterone-boosting supplements you can try include ashwagandha, ginger extract, and horny goat weed.
- Avoid bad habits. Though it can be hard to tackle bad habits, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for testosterone levels so don’t smoke and avoid alcohol and drugs.
If you struggle with low testosterone, it doesn’t make you any less of a man – it is a health problem like any other and there are treatment options available. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and consider testosterone replacement therapy or other treatments as an option.