Smoking is one of those practices that can be detrimental to pivotal body functions, with experts naming the habit the leading cause of preventable health conditions in the world, but is testosterone decline or male hypogonadism one of those conditions? Let's find out below:
Testosterone in a Nutshell
Testosterone is a male dominant hormone in charge of developing male sexual characteristics, such as deepening of the voice, increased muscle mass, and body hair. It's also essential for the maintenance of bone density, red blood cell production, and sperm production, so safe to say the hormone is carrying quite a load. Since the hormone impacts our bodies in such a huge way, the slightest decline can cause a range of symptoms that vary in intensity and duration. The symptoms throw the body off its game and are typically seen as motivation to eliminate causes of testosterone decline that are within reach.
The Link Between Smoking and Testosterone Levels Revealed
First and foremost, the myth that smoking can benefit testosterone levels is just that, a myth, and there isn't any strong evidence that proves a positive correlation, but there are signs of a negative one. After extensive research, I found several studies showing that smoking can decrease testosterone levels by as much as 10-15%.
The exact mechanics of how it does this is not fully understood, but its believed to be related to the toxic chemicals in cigarettes, which affect hormones that reduce the availability of testosterone in the body.
One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine proved this by showing that smokers had significantly lower levels of total testosterone compared to non-smokers. It found that smoking was associated with increased levels of SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), a protein that binds to testosterone, making it less available to the body—lowering levels of the hormone.
Another study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism came up with the same conclusion. It showed that smoking was associated with a decrease in testosterone, a reduction in sperm quality and count which set the stage for infertility.
Consequences of Low Testosterone
We've established that smoking can indeed drop those testosterone levels, and we mentioned earlier that the symptoms of low testosterone aren't something that can be subtly ignored, so what symptoms should we look out for, and what can we do to alleviate them?
Let's look below at the common symptoms:
Low testosterone levels are also linked to a higher risk of men developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, and decreased cognitive function. The obvious solution is, of course, to quit smoking, and this comes from both common sense and research.
A study investigating the effects of smoking cessation on hormone levels showed that men who quit smoking experienced a significant increase in overall testosterone levels. The increase was paired with a decrease in cortisol levels (stress hormone) as well, which promoted better testosterone production.
Other Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels
In addition to quitting smoking, there are other ways to naturally boost testosterone levels. These include:
According to experts majority of our testosterone is produced at night, so it's a no-brainer that getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
The Bottom Line
While there is evidence that smoking can temporarily increase your testosterone, it isn't a long-term effect that benefits our health, in fact, it does the opposite. I touched on enough evidence that shows smoking can cause a dip in testosterone levels which triggers a set of symptoms that affect body functionality. Quitting smoking will definitely benefit both testosterone levels and overall health.