Low testosterone." You've probably heard this phrase quite often, but what does it really mean? More importantly, how do you increase testosterone?
What "low testosterone" really means
Testosterone is predominantly known as a male sex hormone, although both men and women produce it. While the male testes are responsible for most testosterone production, it's also produced in modest amounts by the adrenal glands and by women's ovaries.
The most common cause for low testosterone for both men and women is age. As we get older, our sex hormone levels naturally drop. For both men and women, this can lead to low energy, reduced sex drive, depression, difficulty sleeping, weight gain (especially undesirable increases in body fat), and osteoporosis.
Fortunately, if you're wondering how to increase testosterone, it's easier than you think.
How to increase testosterone naturally: Five key factors
- Get enough sleep
When you don't get enough sleep, you throw much of your body chemistry out of whack, including testosterone levels.
You can change that. Make sleep a priority,and aim for at least 7 to 8 hours a night. Schedule bedtime for the same time every day; supplements like melatonin or valerian root can also ease you into sleep naturally and gradually (with your doctor's approval), with no grogginess the next day.
- Keep your weight down
Keeping your weight within a healthy range through proper diet can actually boost testosterone levels. Don't starve. Your body needs adequate nutrition and calories to build all-important muscle mass. Instead, choose a healthy diet that focuses on whole grains, lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, and minimize your intake of simple carbohydrates like sugar and "junk food." Indulge only modestly in alcohol if you choose.
- Get some exercise
Did you know that the more active you are, the more often your brain sends out the message that your body needs testosterone? If you're wondering how to increase testosterone naturally, this is one of the best ways to do it. If you spend most of your time sitting or being a couch potato, your body will adapt to the fact that you don't need as much testosterone to build bone and muscle tissue – and will produce less. Reverse sedentary habits, and you'll start producing more.
If you haven't been active for a while, start modestly with 10 to 20 minutes of brisk walking. Include some light weight training with small hand-held weights or elastic bands. And don't overdo it – overworking muscles beyond your current level of ability can actually lower, not raise, testosterone levels. Take it slow to build muscles and endurance slowly and gradually, and your testosterone levels will improve.
- Watch your stress
Your body has a natural "fight or flight" reaction when you experience stress. In our modern lives today, this doesn't just happen during instances of actual danger, as was historically true. Instead, it's a chronic condition. Unfortunately, constant stress keeps levels of the stress hormone cortisol elevated, and that leads to weight gain and a drop in testosterone.
To take control of your stress, set a regular schedule. Cut back on work as you need to so that your workdays are no more than 10 hours long, and spend at least two hours a day doing something that's actually fun or relaxing, like listening to music or reading.
- Take a look at your medications
Many medications, such as opioids for pain, can cause drops in testosterone. Don't stop taking any of them without your doctor's consent, but do go over them with your doctor and ask how to increase testosterone just by making substitutions or adjustments.
If you're looking for a more immediate solution to your symptoms, take our Low-T Symptom Assessment to see where you stand. Our simple questionnaire will gauge your symptoms on a scale of 0-4 and advise you on what steps you can take to increase your testosterone levels.