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Preserve your potency: Exogenous testosterone usage can cause infertility
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Preserve your potency: Exogenous testosterone usage can cause infertility

Experts urge men to consider the benefits and risks of taking artificial testosterone, suggesting some lifestyle measures to boost its levels naturally

Use of exogenous testosterone can lead lead to infertility, say experts

Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, is responsible for the development of sexual characteristics, sperm production and fertility. However, some men, giving in to the fad, take it exogenously to address sexual issues or increase muscle mass. Nevertheless, experts strongly advise against it, emphasizing that taking testosterone without medical supervision can adversely affect men’s sexual health, potentially leading to infertility.

Dr Justin Dubin, a urologist and men’s health specialist at Memorial Healthcare System in South Florida, says many online platforms offering testosterone therapy do not follow the guidelines set by the American Urological Association and Endocrine Society. In addition, they fail to convey the health benefits and potential risks of the treatment, setting the stage for severe consequences.

Ill-effects of unsupervised testosterone therapy

Experts say testosterone is often prescribed for men who deal with conditions like decreased sperm count, low libido and erectile dysfunction. However, it shouldn’t be taken indiscriminately. A review published in The World Journal of Men’s Health stated that despite its positive effects on sexual function, exogenous testosterone can negatively impact fertility.

Dr Dubin says exogenous use of testosterone affects the functioning of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), hindering sperm production. “The concept can be confusing since men need testosterone to produce sperm. However, when they take the hormone artificially, it signals the brain to stop the production of LH and FSH, which are necessary for sperm production,” he elaborates. LH stimulates the production of testosterone from the testes, while FSH is responsible for the production and maturation of sperm.

Testosterone levels can fluctuate with age due to conditions like andropause — a syndrome characterized by a decrease in sexual satisfaction and general well-being owing to low levels of the hormone. “However, excessively high levels of testosterone can give rise to certain side effects like acne. In addition, chronic use of the hormone can even lead to zero sperm production. This is often called testosterone abuse,” says Dr Vasan S S, uro-andrologist and founder of Ankur Healthcare, Bangalore. Individuals who abuse testosterone often become sterile, lacking the ability to conceive.

Experts suggest some factors that can adversely impact testosterone levels in men

Ways to improve testosterone naturally

Urging people to refrain from taking exogenous testosterone by themselves, experts list the following lifestyle measures to increase its levels naturally:

♦ Ensure proper sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for the overall well-being of an individual. According to experts, there’s an association between sleep quality and testosterone levels. “Poor sleep can cause low testosterone levels in men, impeding sperm production,” says Dr Dubin.

♦ Maintain a healthy diet

Following a nutritious diet plays a vital role in boosting testosterone levels, says Dr Dubin. Incorporating healthy amounts of protein and healthy fats into the diet, such as eggs, fish, nuts, avocados, seeds and green leafy vegetables, aids in testosterone production. Additionally, foods rich in zinc, including beans, garlic, pomegranate and ginger, help maintain healthy testosterone levels. More importantly, it’s crucial to avoid or limit alcohol and ultra-processed foods for one’s sexual as well as overall well-being.

♦ Exercise regularly

Exercising on a regular basis, be it weightlifting or aerobic workouts like brisk walking, jogging or swimming, will help increase testosterone levels. Apart from this, exercise will also keep lifestyle disorders at bay. “Conditions like obesity can affect an individual’s testosterone levels; losing weight through physical activities will help increase the production of the hormone, enhancing sexual function,” shares Dr Vasan.

♦ Reduce stress

Increased stress causes a rise in cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which can lower testosterone and impede sperm production. Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help reduce stress, positively impacting one’s sexual health.

♦ Ensure adequate sunlight exposure

Vitamin D deficiency can lower testosterone levels, eventually leading to infertility if left unaddressed. Hence, adequate sunlight exposure is crucial to maintain optimal levels of the sunshine vitamin (vitamin D) in the body.

Dr Dubin says some men can be apprehensive about consulting a specialist due to the stigma attached to infertility and sexual disorders. “However, it’s vital to seek medical help to get the right diagnosis and treatment, which will help prevent severe consequences,” he elaborates.

Takeaways

  • Testosterone plays a crucial role in maintaining men’s sexual health. However, experts say that exogenous use of the hormone can lead to infertility.
  • Doctors often prescribe testosterone for older adults who deal with low sperm count, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. However, indiscriminate use without medical supervision can give rise to adverse effects.
  • According to experts, lifestyle measures like adequate sleep, a healthy diet and stress management can help boost testosterone levels.

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