In recent years, there has been a steep decline in testosterone rates among men and fertility rates among women. Testosterone is a hormone that’s very important in men because it not only controls how they behave but also been linked to sexual desire and reproductive function.
The prevalence of testosterone deficiency in male adolescents and young adults is found to be 20% and according to research, men’s age-specific testosterone levels have been steadily declining for many years.
In a 2021 study published in the journal of European Urology Focus, testosterone levels were investigated in 4045 adolescent and young adult men using data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (US national database) from 1999-2016. It was found that testosterone levels have been decreasing in young men over the past two decades. Similarly, during the past 70 years, fertility rates among women have also dropped globally with an overall 50% decline.
Due to these statistics, there is an increased interest in male and female fertility treatments and services for infertile couples. In this blog post, we explore what declining testosterone rates mean for you and your partner, the potential causes, how it impacts fertility rates in women, and what can be done.
What do declining testosterone rates mean for you and your partner?
As men age, their testosterone levels decrease normally. But not only this, multiple other factors are also responsible for decreasing testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels can lead to a variety of symptoms such as low sex drive, weight gain, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, and decreased strength. Low testosterone levels can also negatively impact sperm production and sperm health, which raises the odds of fertility problems for women with male partners who experience lowered testosterone.
Reasons for declining testosterone levels in men:
There are several reasons why testosterone levels in men may decline. Low levels of testosterone can be caused by several factors, including:
- Aging: Testosterone levels naturally decrease with age.
- Hormone imbalances: Low levels of testosterone can be caused by imbalances in other hormones, such as luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
- Medications: Certain medications, such as glucocorticoids and opiates, can decrease testosterone levels.
- Chronic health condition: Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and kidney disease, can lead to low testosterone levels. Other health factors that can contribute include obesity and stress.
- Injury or infection: Injury or infection can cause damage to the testicles, which can lead to low testosterone levels.
- Lack of physical activity: With a more sedentary lifestyle, physical activity has reduced and this has resulted in declining testosterone levels.
- Poor dietary habits: Not taking a well-balanced nutritious diet as is common nowadays also puts you at increased risk for low testosterone levels.
- Alcohol: Too much alcohol drinking eventually reduces testosterone production.
- Sleep deprivation: Disturbances in sleep or sleep apnea disrupt your body’s normal rhythm of production of testosterone.
- Exposure to environmental toxins: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals in everyday products such as plastics may be a contributing factor for testosterone decline.
Reasons for declining fertility rates in women:
There are a variety of reasons why fertility rates have declined in women over the years and the combination of these factors has led to a decrease in the number of children being born in many developed countries.
- Delay in childbearing: One reason is that more women are delaying childbearing until later in life. This is often because they are pursuing careers and other educational opportunities.
- Aging: In terms of fertility, age is a major factor – as women get older, their fertility decreases.
- Use of contraception: Another reason for declining fertility rates is that more women are using contraception. This allows them to control their reproductive health and plan when they want to have children.
- Medical conditions: Finally, some medical conditions can lead to fertility problems in women. These include endometriosis, PCOS, menstrual issues, and uterine fibroids.
- Lifestyle choices: Lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, and poor dietary habits can also impact fertility negatively.
- Low testosterone levels of men: Apart from this, as highlighted above, low testosterone levels of men can also reduce the fertility rates among women because low testosterone levels affect the sperm count and quality which makes it hard for women to conceive.
If you are experiencing any of these conditions, it is important to talk to your doctor about ways to manage them and improve your fertility.
What is currently being done about it?
The declining rates of testosterone in men and fertility in women are a cause for concern for many couples who are trying to conceive. Many things can be done to help in improving the rates.
- Research: One of the things that are being done is research. Scientists are trying to understand more about why these levels are falling and what can be done to stop it or at least slow it down. They are also looking into ways to help those who have already been affected by these changes.
- Testosterone replacement therapy: Testosterone replacement therapy is one option that can be opted for by men with low testosterone levels and it will help in improving the symptoms significantly.
- In-vitro fertilization: Some couples may opt for fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). This process involves combining eggs and sperm in a lab dish and then transferring the embryo to the uterus. IVF can be expensive and success rates vary, but it may be an option for some couples.
- Lifestyle changes: Others may try natural methods to boost fertility. Some foods, such as oysters, have been shown to increase testosterone levels. Some lifestyle changes can be made which may help to improve hormone levels and fertility rates. These include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, quit smoking, having a good night’s sleep, and reducing stress levels.
- Awareness campaigns: Another thing that is being done is awareness campaigns. Some organizations are working to raise awareness of the issue and educate people on what they can do to protect their health.
The bottom line:
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to declining testosterone rates in men and declining fertility rates in women, but there are several options available to couples who are trying to conceive. With the help of a doctor or fertility specialist, couples can explore their options and find the best course of action for their situation.
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- Pourreza, A., Sadeghi, A., Amini-Rarani, M. et al. Contributing factors to the total fertility rate declining trend in the Middle East and North Africa: a systemic review. J Health Popul Nutr 40, 11 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41043-021-00239-w
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- Emokpae MA, Brown SI. Effects of lifestyle factors on fertility: practical recommendations for modification. Reprod Fertil. 2021 Jan 8;2(1):R13-R26. doi: 10.1530/RAF-20-0046. PMID: 35128442; PMCID: PMC8812443.
- (2021) A systematic review on the latest developments in testosterone therapy: Innovations, advances, and paradigm shifts, Arab Journal of Urology, 19:3, 370-375, 10.1080/2090598X.2021.1959260
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