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What decreases testosterone?

Testosterone is a vital hormone that plays an important role in men’s health and wellbeing. As men age, their testosterone levels naturally decline about 1% per year after age 30. But other factors can also contribute to low testosterone, known as “low T.” Here are some of the main causes of decreased testosterone levels.


As men get older, their testosterone levels gradually fall. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but it seems to be a natural part of the aging process. After age 30, testosterone levels decline by about 1% per year. Some men in their 50s and older may have testosterone levels comparable to those of men in their 80s.

Overweight and Obesity

Carrying excess body fat, especially around the belly, is associated with lower testosterone levels. This is likely due to increased conversion of testosterone to estrogen in fatty tissue. Obesity also increases inflammation and insulin resistance, which negatively impact testosterone.

Lack of Exercise

Inactive and sedentary lifestyles are associated with lower testosterone in men. Regular exercise has been shown to increase testosterone and prevent its decline. Just 15-20 minutes of vigorous activity per day is enough to help maintain healthy testosterone production.

Poor Diet

Following a nutritious diet helps optimize testosterone levels. But eating excessive carbohydrates, trans fats, and foods high in estrogens may increase the breakdown and excretion of testosterone. Minimizing sugar and alcohol intake can also help maintain testosterone.

Sleep Deprivation

Getting adequate amounts of quality sleep is vital for keeping testosterone at optimal levels. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones that decrease testosterone. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night regularly to avoid hormonal disruptions.

Chronic Stress

When under constant stress, the body produces more cortisol, which signals the testes to make less testosterone. Finding ways to manage stress through exercise, meditation, socializing, and relaxation practices can help prevent decreases in testosterone.


Various prescription drugs can interfere with natural testosterone production, including opioids, steroids, and drugs for hypertension, heart disease, and prostate problems. Discuss potential medication side effects with your doctor.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical problems are associated with lower testosterone. These include type 2 diabetes, HIV/AIDS, kidney and liver disease, autoimmune disorders, and genetic conditions like Klinefelter syndrome. Managing these conditions may help maintain testosterone.

Injury or Damage to the Testes

Physical trauma or injury to the testicles can impair their ability to produce testosterone. Additionally, long-term anabolic steroid use can cause damage and shrinkage of the testes over time.

Radiation or Chemotherapy

Cancer treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy directly damage the cells of the testes that make testosterone. This may lead to temporary or permanent testosterone deficiency.

Testicular Cancer

Even with successful treatment, having testicular cancer may lead to lower testosterone levels due to effects from the tumor, surgery, or other therapies on testicular function.


Chronic inflammation due to illness or autoimmune disease can reduce testosterone production. The testes may also become inflamed from infection, called orchitis, which impairs their ability to make testosterone.

Zinc or Vitamin D Deficiency

Getting sufficient amounts of key micronutrients like zinc and vitamin D is important for optimal testosterone production. Deficiencies in these nutrients may contribute to low testosterone.


Hypogonadism refers to underactive testes that fail to produce adequate amounts of testosterone due to defective Leydig cells. This may be caused by developmental abnormalities or later-life damage from toxins, radiation, or infections.


Testosterone levels can be lowered by many lifestyle, health, and environmental factors. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, reducing stress, and getting proper nutrition and rest can help preserve testosterone levels. But for significant or persistent low T, see your doctor to identify any underlying issues.