What Causes Low Testosterone: These Bad Habits Are Trashing Your Sex Hormone Levels


If you think you’re suffering from low testosterone levels, there are a few tells. Men typically max out on testosterone by the age of 20, levels plateau, then it’s a slippery slope after 30, with levels dropping about 1 percent per year. Medical professionals don’t really know why it happens—but what they do know is it can spur a slew of negative side effects



Signs of Low Testosterone Levels

Low T can manifest in many ways, including depression, sweats, exhaustion, forgetfulness, declining muscle mass and bone density, and, of course, trouble getting it up. I for one struggled with extreme fatigue, weight gain, and debilitating pains in my joints and muscles, which found me sitting on my primary doctor’s exam table frantic for answers. You see where I’m going with this: low T.

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My doc referred me to an endocrinologist, and two more blood tests confirmed it: My blood testosterone level was just 133 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl), well below the generally agreed-upon “normal” range of roughly 270 to 1,070. Low testosterone is diagnosed when your levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL).

Testosterone-replacement therapy is a viable option for some, but does some gnarly things to a man’s body. Namely, it speeds up the growth of pre-existing cancerous cells and can cause infertility. If you’re an older guy—well north of 50—and you suffer daily from those negative effects, seeking out TRT is a reasonable, healthy course of action. Fortunately young, healthy men can naturally keep their T levels in check. Here are the four things you need to steer clear of.

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4 Bad Habits That Can Cause Low Testosterone Levels in Men

1. Eating From Heated Plastics

Plastics contain a lot of chemicals that work as estrogen mimetics and can be bad for your T, says Brian St. Pierre, CISSN, C.S.C.S., of Precision Nutrition. When heated, plastics can release phthalates and BPA—both bad.

2. Using Products Labeled “High Fragrance”

The label “fragrance” means it contains “a phthalate compound,” says St. Pierre. “Your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs what is put on it.” Look for phthalate-free soaps and deodorant.

3. Drinking Booze Excessively

“Yes, consistent heavy drinking lowers your T,” says St. Pierre. For the record, it’s the ethanol that hurts, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut it out completely. “Have limits,” says St. Pierre, advising a max of one to two drinks per day.

4. Taking Painkillers

Men who are on chronic-pain meds (especially opioids like oxycontin) can have super-low testosterone. According to Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., “Some of these guys have the lowest T we see—it’s a poison for the hormone system.” If you absolutely need to be on it, it’s unavoidable. But if you can seek pain relief the natural way, ditch the script.

Also mix in these 5 testosterone-boosting workouts into your regimen and 3 supplements that can naturally boost T levels.

Read our full feature on testosterone-replace therapy: Is Testosterone-Replacement Therapy Good or Bad? One Man Searches for Answers.

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