Have you been told by your doctor that you have low testosterone levels (also known as low T)? Don’t be discouraged. Low T can be treated, which may improve your medical readiness.
What Is Low T?
Testosterone is a hormone made by your testicles. On average, a man’s testosterone levels range from 270 to 1,070 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Levels below 350 ng/dL are considered low.
Testosterone levels are highest in the morning and lowest in the evening. Health conditions like excessive alcohol use, belly fat, and thyroid issues can cause a drop in testosterone levels.
Low T can lead to erectile dysfunction and lack of energy. Other symptoms of low T include decreased muscle mass, difficulty concentrating, and depression.
How Do You Treat Low T?
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is usually recommended as a short-term treatment for low T. Injections are the most common form of TRT. By injecting directly into the muscles, testosterone is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream. Other forms of TRT include a skin patch, gel, mouth tablet, pellet, and testosterone pills.
Be aware that short-term use of TRT can have side effects, such as:
- Prostate and urinary problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Enlarged breasts
- Blood clots
Long-term risks of TRT are currently unknown.
Will Testosterone Treatments Affect My Readiness?
Low T may or may not impact your readiness. If you are taking TRT, you are not required to report it to your commander according to Army Regulation 40-501. However, you will need to share if you’re taking TRT at your next Periodic Health Assessment. Disclosure will not lead to disqualification or referral to a medical board.
If your doctor prescribes TRT long-term, this may become an issue when it comes time for you to deploy. Each geographic combatant commander has developed their own set of medical standards for deployment into their area of operation. Use of an injectable medication may cause disqualification for deployment. Reach out to your Medical Readiness NCO to learn more about how low T may affect your readiness.
How Can I Increase Testosterone Levels Without Medical Treatment?
A few lifestyle changes may increase your testosterone levels. Here are some things you can do:
- Sleep for an average of seven to nine hours a day
- Lose excess weight, especially around your belly
- Beef up your fitness with cardio and strength training
- Manage your stress levels
- Limit alcoholic beverages