So, I've always had androgen issues, and I don't need to see a doctor to know that I have very, very low T levels for a 23 year-old dude. Going paleo almost two years ago hasn't really helped this. Forever, I've had stubborn belly fat, difficulty gaining mass and strength, hardly any sex drive (which ruined a few relationships), and so on. There was a point a few years ago, when I was pretty much convinced that I was meant to be a girl, and was seriously considering the surgery. But since then, I'd decided I would learn to be a man and now I'm glad that I didn't make the switch. With that said, I'm still skinny-fat and sexually uninterested. I decided about a month ago that I would really try to do something about it. So I upped my calories, carbs, and saturated fat, brought my protein down to a normal level (not filling up on chicken breasts, but instead eating the fattiest meats), starting throwing back more cabbage and broccoli, changed my sleeping habits, started taking tribulus and ZMA, tried to spend more time being in a sexual state of mind, being out in the sun and cranking up my vitamin D intake, and lifting heavier.
The result after one month: I'm miserable. I'm an emotional wreck and I cry about everything. I haven't had the slightest interest in sex in weeks, and my relationship feels like it's about to fall apart again. I feel reclusive, and sometimes I just wanna spend the entire day in bed. My strength gains have hardly progressed at all. I don't know what the hell is happening to me, but things have gotten really bad. I can't even understand how things have gotten /worse/ after all the stuff I did to make things better.
The only thing I can think of is that all this testosterone that I've been creating over the last month, has been converted into estradiol via aromatization. Is there anything I can do to fix this? Possibly a natural solution, or a certain vegetable or herb I could eat a bunch of before seeing my doctor? He's a loser, and I'm sure he'd either try to put me on HRT or maybe even SSRIs or something. I just try to visit the doctor as infrequently as possible because I don't agree with anything he says.
Please, if someone has the answer, help me out.
asked bydinovore (30)
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on May 24, 2012
at 10:46 PM
Paleo is obviously not working for you. You've been doing it for two years. Why not try something else? Or being less strict about it. In my experience more strictness = less sex drive. Everyone thinks Kasra is cray, but what would really happen if you went out and had some awesome gelato? What if you went to an awesome restaurant with your girl and ate what you wanted (not too awful, but keep it decadent)?
You could also start tracking calories more strictly to make sure you have enough. And do a very high-calorie breakfast like a smoothie with fruit, coconut milk, etc.
I would still see a doctor. THere are LOTS of things besides low T that cause sex drive problems, belly fat, etc.
Oh wait "Then everything was peachy until I started implementing this testosterone-increasing stuff into my life" so at some point recently you were fine? Have you tried going back to what you were doing then.
"There was a point a few years ago, when I was pretty much convinced that I was meant to be a girl, and was seriously considering the surgery. But since then, I'd decided I would learn to be a man and now I'm glad that I didn't make the switch."
Also, I these kind of things- sexual and gender orientation, are pretty much fixed- they are in your brain structure, not about hormones. You can't eat your way out of them, as I've seen people try to do. Have you talked to a therapist about your concerns? There are also many great support groups that might help you find a sexual identity you feel comfortable with, whether it be asexual or queer or genderqueer or heterosexual or anything :) Or you might be more sexual with a partner who is one of those things. We tend to think of gender as binary, but third gendered people have a long history.
on May 23, 2012
at 05:52 PM
Without wanting to be too quick to dismiss the appeal for suggested lifestyle changes, it sounds like it may be the emotional difficulties you're facing that lead to you feeling like there's something physiologically wrong with you, rather than low testosterone causing you to inexplicably feel terrible. In particular, it doesn't seem likely that things have gotten so much worse just due to upping calories, carbs, and saturated fat, moderating protein, getting some sun and sleep. Might it be that you made all these changes because you were feeling particularly bad and are now, unsurprisingly, still feeling bad? You say that a few years ago you were seriously considering gender reassignment and your relationship is breaking down due to your lack of sexual interest, it's hardly surprising that you would feel the way you do. It may well be that higher testosterone would really help you, since, of course, it can have a profound effect on our entire personality, but it doesn't seem likely that this was brought on by or will be reduced by fiddling with macronutrient ratios. (That said, it sounds like you're doing things pretty much right anyway). If you are interested in increasing testosterone- creatine significantly increases DHT.
Also- just to quickly mention a possibility that you may have considered long ago and which may be wholly off base- have you considered the possibility that you might be asexual?
on May 23, 2012
at 05:37 PM
To echo @missionman: get a new doctor. There's no reason to ever go to a doctor you don't like, or with whom you don't agree; not seeing a doc when you have serious health concerns just because you don't like the one you have is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
In terms of aromatizaton, you'd have to have a pretty high fat content to aromatize excess testosterone; you describe yourself as "skinny-fat," which makes this unlikely (though not impossible).
Have you had your adrenal hormones checked? One possibility is that your cortisol levels are extraordinarily high, and the excess cholesterol you've been consuming to help make testosterone has simply been shunted into the cortisol pathway. Many of the symptoms you're experiencing could be explained by high cortisol, though it's not a perfect fit with your description.
In terms of what to do about it pre-doctor, I defer to Chris Kresser and Danny Roddy's discussion here: http://chriskresser.com/episode-14-andropause-a-k-a-manopause-male-menopause
And lastly, it might be the case that HRT or anti-depressants (not necessarily SSRIs) would be a good temporary solution to your symptoms while you figure out what else is going on. Medications aren't evil, they're just over-prescribed. If you're on medication as a way to help get you over the need to take medication, you're doing it right.
I hope this helps.
on May 23, 2012
at 05:55 PM
I recommend getting a thyroid ultrasound/labs done to see if you have any abnormalities. Get an MRI/ultrasound/labs of your hypothalamus, pituitary gland or testicles to see if perhaps their is something physically wrong or blocking the production of testosterone.
Dr Saul Marcus, a Naturopathic Doctor has this site that explains testosterone deficiency. He personally overcame his testosterone issues. Perhaps you could setup an appointment with him?
Regarding gender identity, there is more to unpack in that statement where you are considering switching genders. I recommend talking to a therapist before you make that drastic of a change.
on May 23, 2012
at 05:28 PM
Wow. I can't think of anything but what you've already stated. This sounds like a situation for a legitimate endocrinologist who has a paleo spin. Try paleo physicians network? Also, this certainly fits the grounds for a podcast question--send it in to Robb Wolf, maybe he can help.
on July 21, 2015
at 09:01 PM
You are clearly suffering from depression. Depression raises cortisol which saps all testosterone. It kills testosterone. Next relationship, get on Cialis to boost confidence and let that be your segway, daily if needed, til youre splitting girls in half on your own. Sex boosts testosterone. How do I know? I am post TRT whose libido and testosterone crashed to that of a pre teen. I've gone complete natty for almost a year, starting with paleo.
on May 21, 2013
at 11:58 PM
I am 20yr old male in good physical shape (muscular and not over weight) with same problems...mainly extreme fatigue and depression. Thankfully, it only took a few months to figure out my problem. My T was being converted to E because I have too much of the enzyme aromatase. Turns out I inherited it from my dad, just a more severe case (and my 2 brothers have the same problem, just not as bad as me). I use a prescription cream containing Chrysin everyday and feel amazing. It has saved my life and I am so thankful to the dr who figured it out. Most would have put me on anti depression meds...and would have kept upping the dosage because it would not have helped. It is a miracle cure
on May 25, 2012
at 12:33 AM
without knowing anything about you, have you considered: 1. Kleinfelter's syndrome (very common, 1 in 500 men) 2. pituitary tumor/hyperprolactinemia 3. depression 4. normal variant--you might just have a naturally low sex drive 5. enzyme deficiency, for example 5-alpha reductase deficiency or some kind of congenital adrenal hyperplasia with a late onset 6. Hypogonadism
until you see an MD you will not know whether this is correctable. If you have something enzymatic or hormonal, no amount of diet and exercise is going to fix it.
on May 23, 2012
at 06:33 PM
Hi, Dino. I'm really sorry to hear about your difficulties, and I am only going to tell you about me and my thoughts, so take them with a large pinch of salt. This is just my experience.
I do not think eating more fat is the answer. I eat roughly 30% of calories from fat (guessing) and my diet is mostly lots of fresh produce with supplementary seafood and some avocado thrown in. I only eat lean beef 1x per week. I rarely use butter or coconut products. This would make me castrated by paleo standards, but that's just not the case. I am 22yrs old, so low T isn't a likely issue in the first place, but I still have wet dreams, jerk off (without the aid of pornography) and/or have sex (or play) multiple times a day (the latter if I'm in a relationship, the former regardless, lol). I try to exercise daily, reduce stress, get outside, read, relax, and not take things too seriously. IF I am not mistaken, your testes run on glucose and your sperm cells eat up fructose, so I don't think low carb is the best route if your trying to diet to increase T.
Also, just a thought but although you're experiencing symptoms of low T, that may not be the primary problem. Perhaps it is low confidence/self esteem that is causing the depression and resulting low testosterone? It is just a thought and it might be a good thing to see a doctor about. I have a shrink for other reasons, but have been pseudo-diagnosed as "borderline hyper-sexual" which sounds like more of a mood disorder than an elevated testosterone issue, because I assure you I am not Joe Macho Caveman man. If you saw me on the street you'd probably just think I was a nerd in Raybans.
OH I forgot to add I do take ZMA, which apparently increases T levels, but I take for sleep and recovery, and not the full dose. Don't think it hurts though.
on May 23, 2012
at 05:09 PM
This is a tough one. To me, it sounds like you're doing everything that I would recommend. The trouble with trying to optimize on any of the sex hormone levels that they're basically all very easily interconvertable and the conditions that change the equilibrium from one state to another are hard to control. For me the problem is low production of T, so I work on keeping as much of it as I can. I do that by optimizing my workouts towards strength with a few high-intensity short metcons. I never do anything endurance-like at all in my training.
You gave pretty good details about your food and supplements, and that all sounds good to me, but other than "lifting heavier" I don't know what you're doing on the physical side. Maybe a good set of 2 days/week of heavy, big muscle weights and 1-2 days/week of short metcons would be enough to trigger your body to hold on to the T.
Maybe something like
Squat, Deadlift, Press 5x5 at 80%-85% of your 1RM on 1 day. Squat, Clean 3x3 at 85-90% of your 1RM on another day. Add 1 or 2 days of high intensity metcon workouts that are under 7 minutes. The other days, relax, walk slowly in the sun.
I'm sorry I'm not much help here, mainly because it already sounds like you're on the right track.
Edited to add: I just noticed this post from Welbourn on carbs, training, and low T: http://talktomejohnnie.com/diet/earn-your-carbs
on May 23, 2012
at 05:04 PM
Hang in there buddy. Maybe you should look for a paleo/primal doctor or endocrinologist. I think Robb Wolf for paleo and T.S Wiley for an Endo have links to finding doctors in your area. I too struggle with low T at 41yo. try this: http://paleophysiciansnetwork.com/ and: http://www.thewileyprotocol.com/wp-directory/find-a-wp-provider.html
on May 23, 2012
at 05:43 PM
Go to the grocery store. Purchase a pound of white sugar. Eat this sugar. Repeat every day for the rest of your life.
Watch as you transform from the sickly baby-man you have crafted in your month of carb-phobic delusion into your true form. Watch as you become GOD.