Testosterone is a necessary hormone for male development. Although women do produce testosterone in smaller amounts it is essential to the development of growth and physical characteristics in men. Testosterone is responsible for growth and development of:
- Facial hair
- Pubic hair
- Bone and muscle mass
- Sex drive
- Vocal development/deep voice
- Quality of life
- Verbal memory
- Cognitive abilities
As you age your testosterone levels drop slightly each year. By the time a man has reached 30 his testosterone typically declines by one percent. While that shouldn’t make too much of a difference in your life as your testosterone dips lower each year, you’ll begin to notice symptoms such as low libido, decreased muscle mass, increased body fat and erectile dysfunction.
Who Needs Testosterone Therapy
These symptoms may be a natural part of aging however they can also be symptomatic of other conditions so if you experience any of the symptoms, speak with your physician.
Men who have low testosterone levels or hypogonadism may need testosterone therapy. This is a valid and beneficial treatment for those who have the condition. Low testosterone impacts more than your sex-life and good looks. Hypogonadism increases your risk for certain chronic conditions such as obesity and heart disease and is also a symptom of other conditions such as pituitary tumors, brain injury to the hypothalamus or a sign of a genetic condition such as Klinefelter syndrome.
How Testosterone Use Affects Fertility
For those who don’t have hypogonadism increasing testosterone with a supplement likely offers no great benefit and may actually prove detrimental especially if you’re trying to conceive. On its own, low testosterone in men doesn’t cause of infertility. Although sperm production requires testosterone there is typically enough sperm produced in the testes for that. While low testosterone doesn’t impact sperm production, studies link supplemental testosterone to low sperm production.
Testosterone treatment has side effects including decreased production of the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which is necessary to sperm production. The pituitary gland which is a gland located beneath the brain makes FSH. This hormone controls production of sperm. When your body detects the supplemental testosterone production of FSH slows down. A decrease in FSH by higher testosterone levels gravely impacts sperm production. You may develop a low sperm count or no sperm which is a significant factor in male infertility.
Another hormone necessary to sperm health is luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is necessary to your body’s own production of testosterone in the testicles and is also produced in the pituitary gland. Again, as your body detects an increase in testosterone, it will slow production of LH. The result is a low sperm count or absence of any sperm in the ejaculate and decreased sex drive.
In many cases sperm counts recover after testosterone treatment ends. If you’ve been diagnosed with hypogonadism alert your physician that you and your partner are trying to conceive. Sometimes there are other medications that help, depending on the reason behind your low testosterone.
For some men (a very small percentage) sperm count cannot recover. Some doctors believe this is more prevalent in men whose testosterone therapy involves under-the-skin pellets or shots. But keep in mind any testosterone supplement disrupts the balance of hormones which results in changes to sperm production.
Boost Your Testosterone Naturally
There are some things you can do to attempt a natural increase in your body’s production of testosterone. At the top of the list is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes stopping smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and eating a healthy unprocessed diet with a good balance of fat, carbs and protein.
Seek healthy ways to minimize your stress such as regular exercise. Some studies show a combination of weight-lifting and cardio boosts production of testosterone. Get plenty of quality sleep, which is essential to good overall health and also improves fertility in both men and women.
Finally, the right supplements make a difference. Studies show a link between zinc and B vitamins and increased sperm quality as much as 74%. Vitamins A, C, S, and E along with selenium and vitamin K play a role in hormone production, specifically the sex hormones.
First Things First
Before you take any action be sure you do, in fact, suffer from low testosterone. Contact LA IVF to schedule a consultation. We will find the right path for you to balance your hormones and go over fertility treatment options with you and your partner.