Since the word testosterone is commonly associated with a man’s libido, there is a widely accepted myth that overall health is not impacted when levels become low. “If I can raise my testosterone, ” a man sometimes thinks, “then I will have better intimacy with my lover.” For many men, the thought of negative health caused by low testosterone does not even cross the mind. However, untreated low testosterone can impact overall health. One of the ways it does this is by possibly increasing a man’s chance of developing heart disease at some point in his life.
However, the jury is still out on just how that occurs, and many medical professionals are not in agreement about what comes first: low testosterone or poor overall health. Although a recent study published by The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism states that men with low testosterone might have slightly higher risks than those with average testosterone levels of dying from heart disease, the lead author of the study is quick to point out that the phenomenon is not cut and dry.
Dr. Johannes Ruige of Ghent Hospital in Belgium recently stated, “When we reviewed the existing research into testosterone and cardiovascular disease, a growing body of evidence suggested a modest connection between the two…Based on current findings, though, we cannot rule out that low testosterone and heart disease both result from poor overall health.”
What does that mean for men who want to know how low T levels are associated with chances of developing heart disease? Quite simply it means that, although the two appear to somehow be linked, there is no way of knowing if a man with low testosterone has heart problems due to some other factor or if a man with heart disease has a higher chance of developing low testosterone. In other words, other things may play a role. For example, a person’s lifestyle might affect a person’s likelihood of developing heart disease, but it might also impact whether or not a man develops testosterone levels low enough to cause problems.
The question then becomes: what is normal about low testosterone? It is widely accepted that testosterone levels begin to drop somewhere in a man’s late 30s to early 40s, if not sooner. It causes bone density to be lost and also negatively impacts a man’s libido. When a man is not feeling good about himself, he can become depressed. Naturally, this can cause a boomerang effect that could affect the heart.
For example, some (but not all) depressed people are more likely to develop unhealthy habits if they develop a negative self-image. A man who is unable to maintain an erection, is not feeling the drive to exercise, or who is frequently feeling pain (due to sprains and breaks)– is potentially more likely to become more sedentary, to become less sociable, and even to become more isolated. Some people who are depressed have a tendency to self-medicate. This can mean over-indulgence with alcohol, tobacco, processed foods, and medications.
It seems to depend on the personality of the man. It is also widely accepted that some men naturally retain higher levels of testosterone by doing masculine things like working out, socializing with other men, having an ongoing sexual relationship, and even going to work every day. Whichever lifestyle a person falls into, there is a boomerang effect causing a person’s lifestyle to tilt to one side of the scale versus the other. Ideally, a man would have a healthy sense of self, a healthy libido, a perfect level of testosterone, and a healthy lifestyle. Still, a healthy man can develop low testosterone. And this is where the confusion comes into play.
The most important thing to remember at this time is that more studies need to be conducted in order to prove that heart disease and low testosterone are definitely linked. However, as time goes by, the pendulum is swinging ever so slightly in the direction that it may be true. At any rate, it’s important see where this goes.