Low T: Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Your Only Option?

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Many men even in their twenties are experiencing hormonal imbalances due to a host of influences. Stress is the biggest destroyer of hormones. Often their is a combination of high stress, poor sleep, poor diet, and lack of physical activity and outdoor time which ALL will wreak havoc on the body, especially the hormonal system. It is no secret how important hormones are to the body. Men often (but not always) will start to lose muscle mass and gain fat while losing their drive and confidence. Drive is not just related to libido but our drive entails that deep force to accomplish things. Many men with very low testosterone surprisingly still keep their libido but others lose that as well and start to struggle with erectile dysfunction possibly stemming from a lack of confidence overall. Relationships often can be pressured because low testosterone in a man often leads to irritability and trouble managing stressful situations. A vicious cycle often ensues.

This problem is large in our culture. Most men know about it. Many have had their levels checked and either put on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) or given some general recommendations on how to try to increase it. TRT is often thought of as a long term plan because replacing testosterone for a significant amount of time (i.e. months to years) will shut down the feedback loop making it very difficult to restore the body’s natural production should you stop the hormone replacement. Make sense?

MY STORY

As a disclaimer, I treated my body wrong for MANY years and asked it to do things it wasn’t designed to do. When my muscles wouldn’t lift the amount of weight I wanted to lift, I forced it to with artificial hormones and ridiculous amounts of supplements and food. In my 30s, when the abuse of poor diet, poor rest, and poor stress management peaked, my body hurt and my hormones were tanked. I started TRT and did feel better. But 10-12 months later, I was sick of injections. Oral testosterone is terrible for the liver and pellets can be dangerous (in my humble opinion). Like my patients, I really desired to not be dependent on medications and to help my body restore normal function. But, at this point, I was afraid too much damage had been done to my feedback loop from replacing testosterone for too long. After a lot of research over a few months, I decided to take the plunge and find out if my hormonal balance could be restored despite the odds. Below are the highlights my journey over the past 18 months and the surprising lab results that keep getting better. Mind you, my low back has kept me from doing the high intensity workouts and heavy lifts that are proven to really stimulate natural hormone production. So this has been done with minimal workout intensity.

  • Intermittent Fasting - 16-20 hour daily fasts. I did this 3-5 days a week for the past 1-2 years. Good video introduction here to Intermittent Fasting.

  • Meditation/Rest/Grounding- these all go together. Building in rest is VITAL to life. The books that changed my life in this area are called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Scazzero and Sabbath by Muller. Daily and weekly restful rhythms are essential to my sanity and my hormones. Touching the earth (aka “Grounding or Earthing”) is also critical to healthy aging and recovery. Shoot for 60 mins/day with no shoes on the earth. Moccasins are an option for those with sensitive feet :).

  • Nutrient Dense diet- we stick with a paleo-ish type diet. Everyone will need different things here but basics are avoid processed food and stick with real food. And especially for hormonal balance stick with clean meat and dairy. Clean just implies it is free from hormones and antibiotics. Ideally look for “grass fed” sources. Isn’t it sad that it even needs a distinction? I digress. Also beer is not your friend if you want to restore your testosterone levels.

  • Exercise/Lifting- 3-4 days per week. I mostly did just push-ups, pull-ups, and jump squats. I wasn’t able to lift heavy or even really do the high intensity intervals that are best for boosting testosterone and growth hormone. The body does need a reason to make more hormones, so it needs some sort of resistance. I also just started hitting a heavy bag and love it. I’ll post future labs to show if it further increases testosterone levels in a few months.

  • Homeopathy and supplements- If you’re interested in the full protocol please consider doing an E-Consult with me so you can give me some information on yourself and how your Low T is playing out. Then I could personalize a protocol for you. But a good foundation includes a rich source of vitamin A, D and omega 3s like Cod Liver Oil and beef liver that contains strong B-vitamins, zinc, and bioavailable iron. A good form of magnesium is also an important foundation and can be taken internally or trans-dermally (through the skin) with oils or bath flakes.

MY LABS

February 2017- The beginning of my journey. Note: anything below 12 on free testosterone with any symptoms is considered low.

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February 2018- Doubled levels but free testosterone still below optimal levels.

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August 2018- Finally seeing the levels move into the optimal range!

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Your Story

So now you know you have options. No pressure. We are here to help if you want or need it. Get some basic labs with your PCP to have a baseline and then highly consider an E-Consult to get some further guidance and a specific protocol for helping you restore hormonal balance. Repeat your labs every few months to document your progress and adjust accordingly. You got this! Send us some feedback on things you find helpful along your journey.