Metabolic Syndrome and Low Testosterone Levels
If you think that low testosterone only affects you in the bedroom, think again. Researchers agree that low testosterone is linked to many other health conditions, including metabolic syndrome. What you do not know about metabolic syndrome and low testosterone levels could adversely impact your future.
Whether you are male or female, your testosterone levels begin to decline well before your thirtieth birthday. By that time, you are long past puberty – a point in your life when numerous hormones were at their peak. By the mid-twenties, certain critical hormone levels have reached a plateau and started to decrease in production, testosterone included.
The reason you need to worry about low testosterone and the metabolic syndrome is that you could suffer an increased risk of the following health concerns:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sexual dysfunction
Although osteoporosis and dementia are not a direct concern from metabolic syndrome, they are significant issues if you have low testosterone.
Low testosterone levels are linked to metabolic syndrome risk.
What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is not just one health issue. It is a grouping of multiple conditions occurring together that increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. The following are indicative of both metabolic syndrome and low testosterone levels:
- Insulin resistance
- Increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia)
- Abdominal fat (obesity)
- Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)
- Abnormally high triglyceride and lipid levels, especially LDL and total cholesterol
- Possible low HDL cholesterol levels
The more of these issues you have, the greater the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Unfortunately, according to the Mayo Clinic, as many as one-third of all US adult may have this condition. Luckily, making changes in your lifestyle habits is one of the easiest ways to reduce these risks. Estimates show that metabolic syndrome may affect as many as one-quarter of all adults worldwide. Losing weight, exercising, and eating a healthy diet can improve many of these risk factors.
Factors that increase metabolic syndrome risk include:
- Age – the older you get, the higher the risk
- Diabetes – family history of diabetes or gestational diabetes in women increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome
- Ethnicity – Hispanic women, followed by Hispanic men, have the highest risk factors although anyone could develop metabolic syndrome
- Obesity – the more overweight you are, the more at risk you are for metabolic syndrome, especially if you carry excess belly fat
- Other issues – the risk of developing metabolic syndrome increases if you have ever suffered from sleep apnea, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (women)
The more risk factors you have for metabolic syndrome, the higher the chance of its development.
Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
There are no definitive symptoms of metabolic syndrome from low testosterone. You can recognize the signs of Low T, such as:
- Weight gain – especially around the waist
- Reduced muscle mass
- Height shrinkage
- Joint pains
- Hair thinning or loss
- Mental function decline
- Poor focus
- Low sex drive
- Decreased sexual functions and pleasure
- Mood changes and depression
If you are concerned about metabolic syndrome and low testosterone levels and have any of the following symptoms of high blood sugar, you should contact a hormone specialist for testing as soon as possible:
- Blurry vision
- Increased thirst
- Fruity or sweet breath odor
- Weight changes
- Slow wound healing
- Frequent urinary or kidney problems
- Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
- Dark skin patches in body creases
Epidemiological Studies of Low Testosterone and Metabolic Syndrome
When we look at metabolic syndrome and low testosterone, it is often hard not to ask which came first. Because there have been many more studies on testosterone and men, we will focus on that, although much of the information will also pertain to women.
Research shows that obese men with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome have much lower free and total serum testosterone levels, as well as SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) in their bloodstream.
Reverse that, and we find that low testosterone and SHBG levels are predictors for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome development. It is impossible to say which came first – only that they are often intertwined.
Epidemiological studies of metabolic syndrome and low testosterone levels show us that adding visceral adiposity (belly fat) to the situation increases inflammation. That, in turn, contributes to increased vascular endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.
Low testosterone and metabolic syndrome are often intertwined, with no way of knowing which came first – only that they are both health concerns.
Low Testosterone, Diabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome
Body fat is a considerable factor for adults with low testosterone levels. Again, research shows that men with obesity are more likely to have testosterone deficiency. Conversely, those with Low T are at a greater risk of being obese. Weight gain also leads to an increased risk of testosterone deficiency, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes mellitus.
What is the connection between low testosterone and weight gain?
One of the reasons may be that increased belly fat is responsible for an abundance of aromatase. Belly fat produces this enzyme which then seeks out free testosterone and converts it to estradiol. In doing so, the aromatase activity lowers the amount of testosterone available for the body to use. The result is an increase in estrogen levels that signal the body to store more fat. Weight gain increases, testosterone levels decline further, and estrogen becomes the dominant hormone. The result is a condition called estrogen dominance.
As we continue to look at diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and low testosterone levels, we find that lipolysis decreases due to a reduction in the number of beta-adrenergic receptors. That leads to an increase in fatty acid synthesis. Those fatty acids flow into the liver, further impacting poor metabolism and increased liver fat. Leptin levels rise and interfere with the production of luteinizing hormone that influences testosterone production.
Fat deposition then leads to insulin resistance, a significant factor in metabolic syndrome. The pancreas secretes insulin to help promote glucose uptake by the body’s cells. When someone is insulin resistant, it means the cells become desensitized to the effects of insulin. That makes it increasingly difficult for the cells to take in the glucose. As a result, the levels of sugar in the blood rise and the pancreas releases more insulin. Eventually, you wind up with elevated insulin and blood sugar levels.
Again, research shows that individuals with higher testosterone levels have lower risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Those who have lower testosterone levels have an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes.
Low testosterone is associated with obesity, which influences insulin resistance and diabetes risk.
Low Testosterone, Sexual Dysfunction, and Metabolic Syndrome
Sexual dysfunction, although often associated with age, has a significant basis in metabolic syndrome with low testosterone. One of the most significant risk factors for erectile dysfunction in males is atherosclerosis. Hardening of the arteries occurs when LDL cholesterol levels rise, and HDL cholesterol levels decline. These are factors of metabolic syndrome as HDL cholesterol is necessary for removing excess LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. Testosterone helps to maintain healthy HDL to LDL ratio in the body.
The next factor is that testosterone promotes circulation by stimulating bone marrow and red blood cell production. Poor circulation impedes the attainment of a powerful erection.
Since men with metabolic syndrome and low testosterone levels are more at risk for developing diabetes, it brings into light another issue – type 2 diabetes increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. Depression, often a factor in Low T, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, can interfere with sexual desire and arousal. It takes both the body and the brain to stimulate sexual desire and functions.
Both the loss of excess weight and increased physical activity (often impaired with Low T) can help improve erectile functions. Since weight loss also helps improve many of the factors of metabolic syndrome as well as testosterone levels, the benefits continue to influence one another.
A significant factor in low testosterone and metabolic syndrome is also sexual dysfunction.
Low Testosterone, Cardiovascular Disease, and Metabolic Syndrome
Elevated blood pressure, triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol, and low HDL cholesterol levels all take a toll on the heart. As arteries become clogged with atherosclerotic plaque, blood cannot circulate freely. With low testosterone reducing red blood cell production, anemia becomes a concern. Elevated estrogen levels further increase circulating cholesterol and atherogenic lipoprotein particles.
Next, we add visceral fat accumulation, insulin resistance, and inflammation, and it is not surprising that metabolic syndrome and low testosterone levels contribute to increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Increased weight also puts a strain on the heart, causing it to pump harder. Blood pressure levels continue to rise.
Testosterone deficiency, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes all increase the risk of cardiovascular events and disease. When you have plaque buildup in the arteries, there is a chance that a particle will break free. If that particle enters the bloodstream and blocks an artery to the head, it would result in a stroke. Conversely, if the particle blocks an aortic artery, the result would be a heart attack.
Maintaining a crucial balance of testosterone and estrogen is essential for heart health, as estrogen protects the arteries from damage. However, since too much estrogen causes weight gain, it is vital to maintain a healthy hormonal balance.
Low testosterone and metabolic syndrome factors increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Low Testosterone Treatment Benefits for Metabolic Syndrome
When you are dealing with metabolic syndrome and low testosterone levels, your health can take a downward spiral that seems almost impossible to correct. Yes, you can go on a variety of pills to treat each symptom, essentially masking the problem. Or, you could go to the source and help balance your hormone levels.
According to research, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can improve many of the anthropometric and metabolic parameters associated with metabolic syndrome.
- Increasing testosterone levels helps stimulate libido while increasing sexual thoughts, fantasies, and nocturnal erections. As you improve circulation and blood cell count, the genitals receive the necessary increased blood flow to stimulate arousal.
- Boosting testosterone levels stimulates the loss of body fat mass and increases lean muscle mass. As a result, leptin levels decrease, leading to improved lipolysis. With a loss of belly fat, aromatase activity declines, effectively increasing testosterone while reducing estrogen levels.
- Testosterone helps promote insulin sensitivity, allowing for better glucose uptake by the peripheral tissue cells. Studies have shown a decrease in insulin resistance in men with type 2 diabetes after receiving testosterone therapy.
- For cardiovascular disease, TRT can help increase coronary artery dilation and decrease myocardial ischemia. Insulin resistance is common in chronic heart failure and improves with testosterone therapy. Blood pressure levels begin to stabilize.
- heart org
- Cleveland Clinic
- Hormone Health Network
- Definition of Metabolic Syndrome Report of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/American Heart Association Conference on Scientific Issues Related to Definition Scott M. Grundy, H. Bryan BrewerJr, James I. Cleeman, Sidney C. SmithJr, Claude Lenfant Originally published27 Jan 2004. 109:433–438
- Hypertension in Metabolic Syndrome: Vascular PathophysiologyYolanda Mendizábal, Silvia Llorens, and Eduardo NavaDepartment of Medical Sciences, University of Castilla-La Mancha, School of Medicine and Regional Centre for Biomedical Research (CRIB), 02006 Albacete, Spain Received 28 November 2012; Revised 5 February 2013;
- Dr Axe
- Medical News Today
- Treatment of metabolic syndrome.Wagh A1, Stone NJ.Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2004 Mar;2(2):213-28
- MAYO CLINIC
- Metabolic Syndrome and Associated Diseases: From the Bench to the ClinicDonna L Mendrick Anna Mae Diehl Lisa S Topor Rodney R Dietert Yvonne Will Michele A La Merrill Sebastien Bouret Vijayalaskshmi Varma Kenneth L Hastings Thaddeus T Schug Toxicological Sciences, Volume 162, Issue 1, March 2018, Pages 36–42,Published: 02 November 2017
- A clinical perspective of obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease Thang S Han, Mike EJ Lean First Published March 3, 2016 Review Article
- Testosterone and the metabolic syndromeVakkat Muraleedharan and T. Hugh Jones Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct; 1(5): 207–223
- Testosterone and metabolic syndrome: Ranabir Salam, Achouba Singh Kshetrimayum, and Reetu Keisam Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2004 Mar;2(2):213-28.
The Metabolic Syndrome: Time for a Critical Appraisal Richard Kahn, PHD1, John Buse, MD, Ph.D., Ele Ferrannini, MD and Michael Stern, MD Diabetes Care 2005 Sep; 28(9): 2289-2304.