Testosterone is a powerful presence in the male body. It is responsible not only for muscle building, libido and semen production but also for mood and metabolism regulation, memory, concentration and bone density, according to the University of Rochester Health Encyclopedia. Testosterone may even help the body fight heart disease.
But urologists have been noticing a troubling trend: Both the serum testosterone levels and sperm counts of American men have been gradually declining by as much as 1% a year. Studies done by The Massachusetts Male Aging Study in 1997, in Finland in 2002, Denmark in 2010 and Israel in 2019 have corroborated steadily declining testosterone levels and sperm counts traceable as far back as the early 1920s. These dropped levels have been consistent across every category.
“In the last 40 years, the average, age-adjusted testosterone levels and sperm counts for men have declined consistently,” explained urologist Dr. Dennis Kubinski, owner of The Men’s Center in Mount Pleasant. “In fact, some studies suggest a greater than 50% decline in sperm counts over the past several decades. This is, obviously, a troubling trend.”
When puberty approaches, the brain’s pituitary and hypothalamus glands release hormones designed to signal the testicles to begin fueling male bodies with testosterone and to manufacture sperm, thus producing the typical masculine physical characteristics and the ability to procreate.
Healthy men should continue to produce both testosterone and sperm throughout adulthood, although levels gradually drop with age.
The problem of decreasing testosterone and sperm counts deserves attention both because these issues can be treated and because of the negative impact on men who needlessly suffer from this condition. The Men’s Center treats a broad spectrum of men’s health issues, including low energy, decreased initiative, lowered sex drive, reduced muscle mass, depressed mood, weight gain and sleep problems.
“When the process is working properly, a decline in testosterone should cause the brain to make more, signaling hormones such as luteinizing hormone and follicular stimulating hormone,” Dr. Kubinski explained. “What I commonly see is an inadequate response at the level of the brain rather than a primary disfunction of the testicles.”
There are several possible causes of testicular failure, some more proven than others:
- Increasing sedentary lifestyles due to technology and office-based conveniences;
- Rising rates of male obesity, causing unfavorable shifts in the body’s hormone balance;
- Environmental toxins and factors such as phthalates, found in the more than 30 million tons of plastics produced annually;
- Certain processed foods;
- Obstructive sleep apnea;
- Long-term stress and mental health problems;
- Erectile disfunction as a result of pornography addiction;
- Warmer temperatures in homes and offices;
- Tighter fitting underwear and pants;
- Mobile phones that may be causing physical and psychological damage;
- Heavy marijuana or alcohol consumption;
- The natural aging process.
Although testosterone levels begin to drop naturally after age 30, Dr. Kubinski maintained there are definitely more symptomatic men under the age of 40 now than there were 20 years ago.
“These men are bothered by their decreased sex drive, decreased energy and drive, decreased muscle mass, depressed mood and sleep issues,” said Dr. Kubinski. “The destructive ripple effects of low testosterone are identifiable: I see low libido affecting marriages, loss of muscle mass or obesity affecting confidence and decreased cognition affecting job performance.”
“Treatment will depend upon identifying the underlying cause. A dilated vein to the testicle can cause a lower sperm count, but surgical repair can be corrective,” he added. “Medications such as clomiphene can increase sperm count and testosterone levels by releasing both FSH and LH from the pituitary gland to stimulate the testicles. Infections can also be treated with medication, and heavy marijuana or alcohol use can be addressed with lifestyle changes.”
Counseling is always part of Dr. Kubinski’s approach with his patients.
“I try very hard to create a plan based upon the patient’s priorities, degree of bother, beliefs, budget and other health issues,” he noted. “Successful treatment by a qualified medical doctor can make a huge difference in both quality of life and overall health – and that’s why I opened The Men’s Center and why I love what I do.”
For more information, find Dr. Kubinski at the-mens-center.com or call 843-790-1823.
By Janet E. Perrigo