As you age, you will naturally begin to experience changes in your body. Your sex hormone levels may begin to fluctuate and diminish, leading to physical and mental symptoms you might not have anticipated.
Are you feeling increasingly fatigued or lingering in a depressed mood? Perhaps your interest in sex is declining, or you’re finding it more difficult to maintain an erection. Maybe you’re noticing muscle loss and weight gain even though your gym routine and diet haven’t changed.
After age 40, you can expect your testosterone levels to drop about 1% a year. But many symptoms of low testosterone usually appear closer to age 50. Globally, 10-40% of men are estimated to experience clinically low testosterone levels at some point.
Although low testosterone is common in older men, you don’t have to live with the symptoms for the rest of your life. There are treatments available that can improve your quality of life no matter your age.
What is Testosterone, and Why is it Important?
Testosterone is an androgen sex hormone present in both men and women. It is, however, the primary sex hormone in men and is present in much higher concentrations in men than in women.
Testosterone helps the gonads and penis develop during fetal development. It’s also responsible for many of the change’s boys undergo during puberty. Testosterone impacts body hair growth, muscle and bone growth, voice changes, sperm development, and sex drive.
As previously mentioned, global rates of male testosterone deficiency range from 10-40%. Women can also experience low testosterone, usually due to surgical menopause or ovarian failure. However, it’s difficult to accurately measure the prevalence due to women’s low testosterone levels.,
The most common symptoms of low testosterone are fatigue and erectile dysfunction. Other symptoms include sleep disturbances, irritability and depression, hair loss, decreased muscle and bone mass, low libido, and low sperm count.
If your doctor has told you your testosterone levels are low, there’s no need to panic. Numerous treatments and strategies are available that can improve your symptoms and help you feel more in control of your body. Read on to learn how to naturally increase your testosterone levels and reclaim your energy and physical well-being.
Causes of Low Testosterone
- Aging. As you age, there is a natural decrease in the production of androgen hormones.
- Radiation or chemotherapy. These cancer treatments often cause temporary testosterone loss, but sometimes the loss can be permanent.
Diseases that affect the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in the brain. These structures play a significant role in testosterone. Diseases like pituitary tumors, HIV/AIDs, and certain inflammatory diseases can interrupt their function.
- Obesity. People with obesity have a much higher incidence of low testosterone. High body fat percentages can interfere with hormone balance and diminish androgen production.
- Medications. Some medications, such as opioids and statins, can interfere with testosterone production when used long-term.
- Injury to testicles. Usually, if only one testicle is injured, no loss in testosterone is experienced.
- Hemochromatosis, or too much iron in the blood. This can cause testicular failure or damage to the pituitary gland.
- Congenital conditions, like Klinefelter syndrome. This is a difference in chromosomes that leads to underdeveloped testes.
Natural Ways to Increase Testosterone
If a disease, a medical treatment, or a congenital issue cause your low testosterone, you’ll need to work closely with your physician to manage your health and mitigate your symptoms.
However, if the natural aging process or obesity causes your low testosterone, there are steps you can take to naturally increase testosterone levels in your body.
1. Prioritize exercise, especially weightlifting.
Research  shows that exercise, specifically strength training, can raise serum testosterone levels. We need more research to determine if these changes last. However, in the short term, you can increase your testosterone levels by doing these activities.
Exercise can help you maintain healthy body weight and increase muscle and bone mass. Improved body composition can also help you maintain healthy testosterone levels.
2. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with nutrients supporting healthy testosterone production.
Experts have found a relationship between eating a carbohydrate and processed foods-heavy diet and decreasing sex hormones. Eating a whole foods diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber, nutrients, lean proteins, and healthy fats can protect your metabolic health and help you maintain a healthy weight, protecting against androgen loss.
While there is limited evidence that specific foods boost testosterone levels, certain foods are particularly rich in the nutrients needed for healthy testosterone production. These include leafy greens, onions, oysters, and fatty fish.
3. Increase your zinc and vitamin D intake!
Research shows that low zinc levels can have a dramatic limiting effect on testosterone production. Zinc supplementation improves testosterone production in normal, healthy men. Similarly, vitamin D deficiency also leads to lower serum testosterone levels, and supplementation shows promise for reversing that effect.,
Increasing vitamin D and zinc intake through foods is also recommended. Zinc is found in shellfish, beans, nuts, eggs, dairy, seeds, and dark chocolate. You can find dietary vitamin D in enriched dairy, cereal, juice products, mushrooms, fatty fish, beef liver, and egg yolks.
4. Improve your sleep hygiene and stress management!
Poor sleep and high-stress levels increase the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol is known to block the effects of testosterone, and chronically elevated levels can result in reduced testosterone. A good night’s sleep and excellent stress management are not luxuries; but necessities for good health, especially as you age. Lowering cortisol can help improve your mood, cardiovascular health, and testosterone levels.,
5. Use natural supplements that support testosterone production, such as Nutesta.
There are a lot of products on the market that claim to increase testosterone production and improve your virility. Some are credible, and others aren’t. Nutesta is a popular supplement with vitamins, antioxidants, and herbs linked to improved libido, energy, and fat metabolism. Nutesta offers assurances that its product is produced in an FDA-approved facility that follows GMP best practices.
Many other products with similar effects focus more on improving athletic performance or lowering stress. Do your research and speak with your doctor to help you find the best supplement for your health.
6. Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption!
Heavy alcohol use is linked to a reduction in testosterone levels in men. But there are conflicting research results about the effect of tobacco use on testosterone levels. One study in 2021 showed a direct correlation between tobacco use and low testosterone., 
If knowing all the health risks of tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption doesn’t convince you to stop or limit these behaviors, perhaps learning they can also lower your testosterone will change your mind. Quitting smoking now and using alcohol in moderation will help you feel better and maintain good health for longer.
Medical Interventions for Low Testosterone
If you’ve implemented all the natural options available but are still experiencing severe symptoms of low testosterone, or if something other than normal aging causes your testosterone loss, talk to your primary care provider about your medical options.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is an effective treatment that directly provides testosterone to your body through injections, patches, pellets, or gels. Your doctor can also prescribe certain medications that stimulate testosterone production. Some medical issues that impact testosterone levels can be corrected surgically, such as swollen veins in the testicles, also known as varicoceles. Surgical correction of the underlying problem can cause an increase in serum testosterone.–
Risks and Precautions
All medical treatments bring some level of risk with them. If you are on TRT, be aware that it can cause acne, worsen sleep apnea, increase your risk of stroke due to blood clots, and potentially worsen prostate cancer outcomes. Like any medication, testosterone-stimulating prescriptions introduce the possibility of side effects or allergic reactions, and, of course, surgery is never a risk-free endeavor.
When choosing any treatment option, performing a risk-benefit analysis is important. Talk to your doctor to determine if the benefits you might receive from treatment outweigh any potential ill effects.
Healthy testosterone levels help keep your bones and muscles strong, energy and libido are high, and mood balanced. Taking steps to maintain testosterone as you move through life will help you stay healthy and happy well into your golden years.
Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of low testosterone. The first line of defense is usually a natural approach, including lifestyle changes and supplementation, both highly effective strategies for healthy aging men. Always talk to your provider before taking any supplements or medications, and let them know if what you’re doing isn’t giving you the symptom relief you need.