Increase your testosterone levels after addiction - The natural way
If you are looking to increase your testosterone levels after addiction, you have come to the right place!
The overconsumption of addictive substances can bring about quite drastically negative consequences for hormone levels.
Addiction can affect your mental health, your energy levels, expose you to higher chances of developing certain chronic diseases, and can throw your hormone balance way off.
The latter is important. Taking in excessive amounts of addictive substances, like alcohol, can greatly change long- and short- term hormone output. We can include testosterone in here as one of the most significant changes. Addiction can cause testosterone levels to drop significantly. This can have serious health ramifications, especially for men.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone that is central to health and happiness.
If your feeling low in energy and mood, you may have low testosterone. A simple blood test can confirm your levels. Happily, there are plenty of natural ways to help increase your testosterone without resorting to pills and injections. We’re talking healthy levels of the actual hormone, here, not pop-culture’s overblown myth of test-fuelled, toxic masculinity.
Though I do want to separate it from negative connotations and its own mythology, testosterone does play a central role in making men ‘masculine’. It helps to shape masculine features, fuels sex drive, plays a large role in muscle and bone growth, and is crucial for male fertility. It is also central to the maintenance of healthy energy levels, positivity, and drive.
Though I want to focus on men’s health, given how prominent a role testosterone plays in maintaining it, women also need a small amount of testosterone to remain healthy. In women, testosterone is created in their ovaries. Many of the following issues that affect men can affect women too (except erectile dysfunction and low sperm count, for obvious reasons!)
Low testosterone levels can lead to:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Erectile dysfunction
- Infertility, and/or lower sperm count
- Atrophy (muscle loss)
- Bone loss/ brittle bones
- A lack of drive and focus
- The creation of feminine features, such as breast tissue
- Hot flashes
- Poor concentration
Addictions impact on your ability to increase testosterone
Alcohol is arguably the biggest confound to an addict’s testosterone output. However, other addictive substances, alongside the poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyle that can accompany them, can also diminish levels.
I’ll mainly be talking about alcohol in what follows, though do note that many of the healthy cures I list at the end are good practice for anybody recovering from addiction – in fact, for anyone at all, for that matter!
Testosterone is produced with the aid of three glands in men: the hypothalamus, the anterior pituitary glands, and, of course, the testes.
The hypothalamus is responsible for releasing a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which acts on the anterior pituitary gland. The anterior pituitary gland them releases luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
The testes then synthesize testosterone in response to this LH and FSH.
Alcohol, alongside many other addictive substances, can interfere with the healthy operation of all three glands, thus disrupting and inhibiting testosterone production.
Short term, immediate effects of low testosterone
Let’s first look at the immediate effects of shorter term, binge drinking on testosterone levels. Though recovering addicts may be more likely to experience long term effects (see below), this works well as a cautionary tale for anyone looking to reach for the bottle for a blow-out.
Acute alcohol consumption can cause short term impairments by affecting your pituitary and hypothalamus glands. In fact, this can occur as little as thirty minutes after a single drink. Testosterone output can be noticeably lower after just three days of drinking.
However, this is reversible – once the alcohol has been processed from your system, you should find your testosterone levels returning to normal.
Putting the bottle down will naturally increase your testosterone!
Long term effects of low testosterone
Testosterone disruption is generally far more prevalent in heavy drinkers than light to moderate ones – here, ‘heavy drinking’ refers to more than fifteen drinks weekly for men, or eight for women, roughly speaking. It will be far more likely to occur when heavy drinking is long term.
Men who drink heavily are far likelier to experience the above health concerns, including low libido, low mood and energy levels, and erectile dysfunction, due to supressed testosterone levels. Women who drink heavily will likely experience symptoms such as low mood and energy, brittle bones, and low libido.
Those who drink at a moderate level (fewer than a drink or two per day) are unlikely to experience severe testosterone suppression, though it is always possible – as mentioned above. If you encounter any of the above symptoms, it will always be worth talking to your doctor or healthcare provider.
When do testosterone levels normalise?
There is no one answer for all people – there are myriad factors like severity and length of drinking, combined with other lifestyle factors, overall health, and genetics, that will determine if and when a recovering addict’s testosterone levels normalise.
Obviously, quitting alcohol is the first, most positive step you can take to increase your testosterone levels naturally. It should help to reverse some of the long-term damage, alongside the immediate, acute effects.
However, depending on the above factors, it could be a process of months or even years until testosterone levels normalise. There is also a chance that some damage may be permanent.
Again, if you think your testosterone levels may have been impaired by addiction, talk to your healthcare provider.
How to increase your testosterone levels naturally
Healthy living is the surest way to increase your testosterone production. This applies generally, to everyone, and can help those treading the path to recovery to bring their physical and mental health back to normality.
This includes the old faithfuls like eating healthily, with plenty of good quality, whole foods, fruits and veg, high quality protein, and healthy fats. Regular exercise is also crucial. This can be simply maintaining a more active lifestyle, with more walking and time spent standing, or, more usefully, some form of higher intensity, mindful exercise practice.
Exercise can increase your testosterone levels both acutely and non-acutely. Your levels will typically be raised from somewhere between fifteen minutes to an hour after exercise. For those with testosterone levels between low and normal, it can also nudge production up more generally.
Endurance and resistance training can briefly increase your testosterone, with a larger effect coming from the latter. Resistance training – things like weightlifting, swimming, yoga, Pilates, and Calistehnics – will therefore be a good idea for anyone recovering from addiction. With this in mind, heavier workloads and higher intensities performed over shorter sets or durations will have the biggest effect on most people.
However, do note that these lifestyle changes can only do so much. Though they are worth pursuing in their own right, in severe cases, they will likely need to be undertaken alongside medical intervention. Also do note that overdoing it in the gym, pushing yourself too hard, can deplete testosterone levels, further complicating things!
As ever, balance is key. Balance a healthy fitness regime with rest and recovery, and a healthy lifestyle with medical intervention. Balance your new life with sobriety and positivity, whilst not going too hard on yourself, and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
Author - James
Which Exercise Is Better for Increasing Serum Testosterone Levels in Patients with Erectile Dysfunction? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5924956/
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