In the fifteen years since I started practicing Age Management & Hormone Optimization, I’ve noticed a startling change in men’s physiologies: Across the board, testosterone levels are declining at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of men coming in from ages 35-45 with less-than-optimal testosterone levels (or “low T”) they’re coming in their late 20s!
And all the symptoms you’d expect to see with low T are there too: lack of energy, lack of sex drive, inability to recover from injury quickly, loss of confidence, generalized feelings of weakness, and more.
These levels lead me to three big questions:
First: What’s the degree of the problem?
Second: What’s the cause of the problem?
Third: What should we do?
What’s the degree of the problem?
My observations as a clinician have been confirmed by multiple studies. One of the more illuminating studies, the Massachusetts Male Aging Study (MMAS), gathered data on 1,500 randomly selected men in the Boston area in three distinct time periods over 17 years (1987-89, 1995-97, and 2002-04). It measured their total testosterone levels as well as their bioavailable testosterone levels (that is, the testosterone that was actually able to be utilized by the body) . What they found was that both total and bioavailable T levels were decreasing by 1.2% and 1.3% respectively – every year. That’s between 20.4% and 22.1% over the years of the study.
Another large study, known as The Finnish Study, suggests that the drop in T levels was significant in younger men. A man born in 1970 has 20% less testosterone than his father did at the same age. In other words, a man who’s 46 this year has 20% less testosterone than his father did when he (the father) was 46!
What’s the cause?
There are multiple theories about this dramatic drop in testosterone in men. But theories are varied and wide-ranging. Many of them center around endocrine disruptors – chemicals that interfere with your body’s hormonal systems. Perhaps it’s one or more of the fifty chemicals introduced into the food supply each week. Researchers have theorized pesticides on crops, mineral deficiencies due to factory farming, lack of sleep, and even cellphone radiation. Others theories are located at the intersections of psychology, culture, and biology, leading to examinations of how changing gender roles may be affecting hormone levels.
The truth is, there’s no definitive answer, and perhaps there is no single answer. Instead, it’s likely to be a bundle of different causes.
So, what should we do?
Educate yourself on your hormones! One reason The Body Well has an extensive blog on hormones and aging is to give a resource to the interested public and to potential clients, particularly those who feel something just isn’t right about how they feel.
At The Body Well, we consider it important to look not just at where levels are “supposed” to be, but instead at health outcomes. What level makes you feel best and relieves your symptoms? What is the testosterone level most associated with the lowest chance of cardiovascular disease? Alzheimer’s Disease? Diabetes? Stroke? Cancer? For healthy libido and organ function? For the best quality of life?
I recommend you schedule a hormonal evaluation with an Age Management & Hormone Optimization specialist, such as myself or Dr. Jill Stocker at The Body Well. It’s important to see an expert rather than a general practitioner to evaluate your testosterone. Why? General practitioners often gauge whether or not your testosterone levels are “normal.” But as you can see, “normal” is a shifting number. What was normal fifteen years ago is not normal today; “new normals” are being set all the time, and they’re not necessarily healthy. What you want when it comes to testosterone is to have optimal levels, and perhaps even more importantly, feel the healthy effects of testosterone on your body.
For a hormonal evaluation that takes into account how you feel and the latest research, call The Body Well today at (323) 874-9355 and schedule an appointment. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.