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Low Testosterone Causes {Holistic Approach}

Low testosterone, Health, Sex Hormones, Functional Medicine, Hormone Balance

Low Testosterone Causes {Holistic Approach}

Are you feeling low testosterone symptoms or have been tested and it showed low testosterone? We’re covering what the potential low testosterone causes may be! This is a great conversation to have because being given testosterone from your doctor can cause your body to rely on that + no longer make it. So, it’s important to try and assess what the root cause could be.

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Low Testosterone Symptoms

In women, low testosterone can show up as…

  • Low libido
  • Lack of muscle growth
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain/stubborn weight loss

In men, low testosterone can show up with the same problems as above, but also show..

  • Struggling with erection
  • Hair loss
  • Decreased bone mass
  • Small testicle size
  • Memory issues
  • Low red blood cell production

Making Testosterone

First things first is understanding how the heck testosterone is made. It starts with the hypothalamus and pituitary parts of your brain. These parts communicate with the Leydig cells in men and the ovarian cells in women. Women obviously make much less, but still having optimal testosterone levels matter. These brain parts tell your body to make luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In men, FSH is used to create more sperm and LH is used to make testosterone.

Inside the Leydig cells, testosterone production starts in the mitochondria using cholesterol and turning it into the end point of testosterone. Inbetween the start point to the end point of testosterone, it can go from DHEA to androstenediol/androstenedione to testosterone OR progesterone to androstenedione to testosterone. As you can see, there are MANY pathways to testosterone.

Potential Low Testosterone Causes

Getting your labs looked at by a professional is helpful in determining what part of the testosterone production isn’t working. Is it conversion? Is it starting in the hypothalamus or pituitary? Is it enzymes? This is the part that will determine what the support will need to be. Here are some potential causes of low testosterone.


Inflammation is a big trigger that impacts testosterone production. Inflammation can increase aromatase, which is an enzyme that can convert testosterone into estrogen – leaving you with low testosterone and higher levels of estrogen. If this enzyme aromatase is an issue, in addition to increasing estrogen, it will also increase sex hormone binding globulin (a protein that binds to sex hormones + leaves you with less ‘free’ hormones that interact with your cells).

Gut health plays a role in someone having chronic inflammation because if there are gut imbalances, like dysbiosis (am imbalance of good and bad bacteria), lipopolysaccharides (LPS) stimulates inflammation and causes this cascade into someone having low testosterone. Of course, I had to bring in some poop talk because it’s ALL connected!

Nutrient Deficiencies

Above when I stated that testosterone production begins in the mitochondria, you see that cholesterol is needed to make testosterone. If you have levels below 150 of cholesterol, you might not have enough. Vitamin D has also been linked to low testosterone and zinc plays a major role in male fertility + has a major negative effect on testosterone. Zinc and vitamin D are both precursors.

Strict dieting (reducing any macronutrient carbs, proteins, and fats) can also negatively impact testosterone levels in both men and women. Men it can impair the Leydig cells function, which is where testosterone production occurs.

I can’t highly recommend enough to work with a professional to figure this part out. It’s super easy to fall for the latest and greatest trend + try to do whatever your neighbor did to get results, but that doesn’t mean it works for you!

Make a free exploration call appointment with us to understand how we can help you move forward to feeling your best!

Blood Sugar

Blood sugar balance is vital for optimal hormone production. Remember: sex hormones are pretty downstream (aka they are affected by so many others and are often last dominos to fall). Both high and low blood sugar and impact testosterone production. A study showed that having low blood sugar decreases that LH hormone and testosterone production. Insulin resistance may also affect these hormones that are a part of testosterone production.

Overall, optimizing blood sugar balance is ESSENTIAL in creating healthy sex hormones, regardless of which one.


While the word ‘toxin’ is tossed around in the health space + holds more fear-mongering than anything, toxins are a legit reason for testosterone production to be affected. Phthalates actually suppress testosterone production by targeting LH production, increasing oxidative stress, and cholesterol transport. BPA has been seen to increase testosterone levels in women, but lower testosterone levels in men. Pesticides/herbicides like glyphosate also show lower testosterone levels.

While it’s simple to try and write this reason off of “toxins are everywhere”, there are still things we can do to test what toxins are you high in, what can we change in your diet and lifestyle, how can we support your liver to detoxify better? We run environmental toxin lab panels and help people figure out what in their life they need to change!

Mitochondrial Dysfunction/Oxidative Stress

The mitochondria inside the cell is where hormone synthesis takes place, so if the mitochondria isn’t working, making testosterone won’t be happening. If there is a lot of oxidative stress, this can decrease testosterone production.


Stress is on all the lists of how it affects sex hormones. Our stress hormone, cortisol, can shift a woman or man’s body to fight or flight and lower the priority of reproduction. To lower that priority, LH and FSH are affected. Cortisol production starts with the hypothalamus and pituitary as well, just like testosterone. So chronic high stress can domino affect into your sex hormone production!

Lab Testing for Low Testosterone

I love both blood and urine for testosterone. If you take our DUTCH panel, your testosterone will be measured, among other androgen metabolites. If you get blood done, make sure to get these blood markers done to see a complete picture of your testosterone.

Low testosterone causes, hormones, male hormones, sex hormones, functional medicine, testosterone

If you are ready to book a free call with us to see how we can help you, fill out this form to book!

Lahana Vigliano, CCN
Avatar for Lahana Vigliano
Lahana Vigliano

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Nuvitru Wellness. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@nuvitruwellness).