Low testosterone has been correlated with hypertension, though no one has suggested a direct, causative relationship between the two. The connection is complex and indirect, with many overlapping chemical pathways that link testosterone metabolism and the regulation of blood pressure.
Even if my T levels were low, I didn’t plan to take supplemental testosterone. That’s a dangerous path to follow. If you rely on an external supply of any hormone, that will lower your body’s sensitivity to that hormone, boosting your need for the hormone even more. I didn’t want to start that endless negative cycle.
Instead, if my testosterone levels were low, I wanted to identify the weaknesses in my testosterone metabolism and address them through natural means. Because of all the overlapping metabolic pathways, perhaps I’d enjoy better blood pressure regulation as a result.
Testosterone and other sex hormones can be measured in blood, a better alternative may be saliva testing. Saliva and serum levels correlate strongly, and more importantly, the testosterone in saliva is “free” testosterone, the chemically active version. Saliva is also simple to test.
My initial test results
As you can see, my testosterone level of 23 pg/ml (that’s picograms per milliliter) is below the age-adjusted reference range of 30-118. But there’s more specific information available from these results.
I didn’t test testosterone only, but also the levels of its chemical precursors, plus the pathways by which testosterone is broken down. Then I could learn where in the metabolic machinery the problems are happening.
There are four basic scenarios that can lead to low T:
1. Too little entering the pipeline: deficiency of the precursor molecules
2. Too much diversion of the precursor molecules into the production of cortisol, the main stress-response hormone, via progesterone
3. Too much conversion of testosterone into the estrogen molecules estradiol and estrone
4. Too much breakdown of testosterone into DHT (di-hydroxy-testosterone).
My DHT, progesterone, estradiol and estrone levels were all normal. That points to problem #1: inadequate production of the precursor molecules, including pregnenolone and DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate.)
Next I had to design a nutrition protocol to address this imbalance….