Several things can cause low testosterone, but here's one most people don't know about.
Head Trauma and Low T
When we think of testosterone production, most of us just think about the testicles, but they're really a cog in a much larger machine. T production actually starts in the brain when your hypothalamus produces gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH).
From there, GnRH travels to your anterior pituitary and coaxes it into releasing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones then travel into the bloodstream toward your testes, where LH stimulates your Leydig cells to produce testosterone and FSH aids in helping you to produce sperm.
To Put This Simply...
Anything that affects your brain health is going to take its toll on your testosterone production and reproductive health. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can most certainly cause a breakdown in the HPGA axis, and this could happen even with a mild brain injury.
So even if you haven't been knocked out to the point where you saw stars, a forceful impact could lead to a hormonal breakdown in the long run. Some scientists, like interventional endocrinologist Dr. Mark Gordon, believe TBI is one of the preeminent causes of suicide amongst US Military veteran populations. This is because TBI is known to cause heavy depression and PTSD-like symptoms among those affected.
Dr. Gordon's theory is that many veterans sustain low level brain injury simply from being shaken due to proximity to explosions and manning high powered automatic weapons. Though no large scale studies have been conducted to prove the theory, studies show that 85% of post 9/11 veterans who've committed suicide have never served in combat.
This has many rethinking whether it's depression from low level TBI and not emotional trauma that accounts for the very high veteran suicide rates of the past decade and a half. It's definitely within the realm of possibility, given that even borderline levels of testosterone are known to cause depression in men.
This type of dysfunction is one of the most complicated to fix due to the fact that the brain is the source of so many hormonal cascades. That means that a simple cycle of testosterone cypionate probably won't be enough to fix this serious issue. You'll need to find a doctor who's been specially trained for this type of breakdown.
If you're a veteran, you can also find assistance through the Warrior Angels Foundation, an organization that Dr. Gordon co-founded to help veterans obtain hormonal therapy for TBI. In the meantime, you need to take action to protect and heal your brain.
How to Maintain the Health of Your Noggin'
- If you suffer a concussion or a bad knock to the head (or ever have), get a full hormone panel done to ensure you haven't experienced a massive hormonal dip. If you have, find an interventional endocrinologist who's been trained to deal with TBI-induced hormone deficiencies.
- Supplement with a high DHA/omega 3 supplement. DHA is known to mitigate the effects of mild TBI.
- Supplement with N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC). NAC, is a known neuroprotectant and it's been shown to ameliorate the effects of TBI in a double-blind placebo controlled study.
- "Consensus guidelines on screening for hypopituitarism following traumatic brain injury," 2005.
- Urban et al. "Anterior hypopituitarism following traumatic brain injury," 2005.
- Rapoport et al. "The Clinical Significance of Major Depression Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury," 2002.
- Marr, Andrew. Tales from the Blast Factory, Andrew Marr," 2018.
- Reger et al. "Risk of Suicide Among US Military Service Members Following Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom Deployment and Separation From the US Military," 2015.
- Wester et al. "High Rates of Depression and Depressive Symptoms among Men Referred for Borderline Testosterone Levels," 2015.
- Bailes JE and Patel V. "The potential for DHA to mitigate mild traumatic brain injury," 2014.
- Hoffer et al. "Amelioration of Acute Sequelae of Blast Induced Mild Traumatic Brain Injury by N-Acetyl Cysteine: A Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Study," 2013.