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How Obesity Leads to Low Testosterone Levels

How Obesity Leads to Low Testosterone Levels

While we all love that extra helping of fries and that extra soda upsize, they don’t just vanish into thin air upon consumption.

There are no do-overs or magical shortcuts; these delicious yet greasy meals go straight to our waistlines.

And for some unfortunate cases, this build-up of fat in the body can alter the production of hormones as well—including the male hormone known as testosterone.

Research published in the National Institutes of Health shows that a group of healthy male participants’ body mass index (BMI) is inversely proportional to their free testosterone concentration.

So yes, obesity causes low testosterone. If you’re curious about how a testosterone deficiency affects the body, as well as testosterone treatment options, read on more to find out.

The Importance of Testosterone in the Body

Before we go any further, you must understand why testosterone is critical to the body.

Testosterone is the predominant male sex hormone. It is responsible for the development of male characteristics, such as:

  • Muscle mass
  • Facial and body hair
  • A deep voice
  • Stronger bones
  • Higher libido

Testosterone levels are at their peak in a man’s early 20s. It then starts to dip as a man approaches his 30s at a rate of about 1% per year.

Why is Low Testosterone Bad for Health?

Promoting optimal testosterone levels not only helps improve your sexual health; it also improves your physical and mental wellbeing.

For one, testosterone is connected to a vast array of bodily functions that can impact your daily life. This includes our ability to maintain a positive mood and have a healthy metabolism.

On the flip side, having low testosterone levels is not ideal for more than a few reasons.

You may experience the following side effects due to low testosterone levels:

  • Reduced sex drive
  • Depression
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Sleep troubles
  • Erectile dysfunction

If you suspect you have low testosterone levels, consult with a medical professional to get your testosterone levels checked.

The Connection Between Weight Gain and Low Testosterone (Low T)

relationship between body fat weight gain and testosterone

There are two main causes as to how body fat is associated with low serum testosterone.

Aromatase Overproduction

The reason for weight gain leading to low testosterone levels can be traced to the cellular level.

As you eat more and accumulate weight, you gain fat cells. These fat cells all have a specific enzyme called aromatase.

For those unfamiliar, aromatase is responsible for the production of estrogen, a primary female sex hormone.

But the female sex hormone estrogen doesn’t just get made out of nowhere. In order to be created, aromatase takes the components out of a testosterone molecule to create estrogen.

Do you see where this is heading?

As a man gains more weight, his body starts to gain more fat tissue. This build-up of fat tissue is the primary grounds for aromatase to produce estrogen out of testosterone hormones, which in turn leads to testosterone levels dropping.

In men with a normal and healthy weight, the production of estrogen doesn’t affect testosterone levels as much because the need for estrogen conversion is steady and manageable.

For people who’re deemed obese, however, an influx of estrogen converted from testosterone can cause levels to dip. Some may notice a feeling of fatigue related to weight gain as a related symptom.

SHBG Inhibition

A second reason why obese men (and women) can experience decreased sex hormones is because of a reduction in the release of sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG.

This protein’s job description is to carry testosterone in the blood. As male obesity increases, the SHBG’s effectiveness decreases. Research has proven that there’s an inverse relationship between high fat and the release of SHBG proteins.

You can’t determine on your own whether your body is under the conditions of aromatase overproduction or SHBG inhibition. Therefore, it’s crucial to visit a doctor. 

A healthcare provider may provide treatment avenues such as hormone therapy or testosterone replacement therapy to help restore your testosterone to optimal levels.

Diagnosis for Low Testosterone

A men’s medical clinic can help you get a better understanding of your exact diagnosis.

If you have some of the symptoms associated with low testosterone caused by weight gain, your physician may order blood work to measure your testosterone levels.

If you are diagnosed with low testosterone, your physician may also order an MRI or a CT scan to check for any abnormalities in your testicles.

A blood test is usually requested during the morning before eating, as that’s when testosterone levels are at their peak.

Treatment for Low Testosterone Levels

low testosterone levels low t treatment options TRT

Now that you understand the basics of how weight gain leads to low testosterone levels, what’s your next step?

If you believe your weight is causing your testosterone levels to drop, consult with a healthcare provider for accurate assessment. From there, treatment may vary depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Here are some solutions that can help combat low testosterone.

  1. Eating healthier and maintaining a healthy weight. 
  2. Living an active lifestyle
  3. Consider testosterone therapy.
  4. Lose weight by joining weight loss programs.
  5. Erectile dysfunction or testosterone therapy treatment (TRT).

Opt to replace red meats and sugary drinks with healthier alternatives. A diet rich in omega-3 fats and vitamins can help nourish the body and prevent any symptoms from worsening. 

Exercise is also important to help set the body up for good testosterone levels. A 3-month study showed that SHBG production increased by 14.3% in people who exercised. For the control group, only a 5.7% increase was recorded.

Testosterone therapy is recommended for men who suffer from moderate to severe erectile dysfunction and low libido. One such testosterone replacement therapy known as Androderm has helped 92% of patients reach normal levels of testosterone.

Obesity has an increased risk of a slew of other risk factors to the body, from cardiovascular and heart diseases to sleeping problems. A weight loss program can help improve both body weight and sexual function. It does so by decreasing the risk of obesity and maintaining a positive lifestyle suited for healthy young men and old men alike.

Take Control Over Your Weight, Low Testosterone, and Sexual Health 

Living with low testosterone and obesity can be tough. But don’t regress. It can be undone, especially if you’re still early along in the journey.

By consulting with a medical practitioner and actively pursuing healthy lifestyle changes, it is possible to restore your reproductive hormones up to par again.

Consult with a sexual health doctor for a personalized diagnosis. The medical professionals at Paramount Men’s Medical Center specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s health. Our concierge approach positions your unique case at the centerpoint of our focus. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as erectile dysfunction, low testosterone, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

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