You’re just getting older. That’s what you tell yourself when you walk into a room and don’t remember why you’re there. Or when you have to think a while before you give someone your phone number. Or when your boss asks you for the numbers on that big project and your mind draws a blank.
Everyone gets older, right? Everyone zones out once in a while or doesn’t remember little details. Right?
Yes, memory problems and mental lapses do happen more as you get older. But did you ever consider that maybe there’s a hormonal factor at work here?
You probably think of testosterone mostly when you think of your sex life, and of course we all know testosterone plays a key role in developing powerful muscle mass. But did you know that testosterone also plays a role in your cognitive functioning? In fact, that mental fog you experience from time to time might be the result of chemical changes happening in your body. Because testosterone, as it turns out, plays a significant role in the brain.
What’s the Relationship Between Testosterone and Your Brain?
Did you know that your body’s production of testosterone actually begins in your brain? Yes, the testicles produce the actual testosterone that floods through your body to fuel your muscle growth and your sex drive — but it all starts with the pituitary gland at the base of your brain. Your pituitary gland triggers and controls the production of testosterone.
Your brain also needs testosterone to function at its optimal levels. When the testosterone produced by your testicles enters your brain, it interacts with special receptors there to increase blood flow to those areas of the brain. Because those receptors are placed in areas that handle different facets of cognition, your brain thrives when it receives enough testosterone. Visuospatial processing, executive function, memory and attention are all part of the functions that testosterone appears to boost — so it’s no surprise that men with high levels of testosterone do well when tested on those areas of cognitive function.
The inverse of that is that when your testosterone levels are low, those functions in your brain can suffer. You may find yourself with memory problems (where did you put your keys?) or the inability to focus. Take a look at some of the brain functions that can be affected if you’re suffering from testosterone deficiency.
When you think of memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease is likely to float through your mind — and it’s not a happy thought. Studies show that men with low testosterone are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s than the general population — and on the flip side, those who actually have Alzheimer’s generally have lower levels of testosterone as well.
The good news is that boosting testosterone levels appears to make a difference when it comes to preserving memory function. Higher testosterone levels result in improvements in spatial and visual memory, and an increase in testosterone levels can even help men who already have Alzheimer’s handle memory functions better.
Testosterone and cortisol have a sort of inverse relationship in your brain. When your testosterone levels are high, they push back against the production of too much cortisol. And when testosterone is low, your cortisol levels increase.
Why does the relationship between these two hormones matter? Because cortisol is often known as the stress hormone. It’s the hormone that goes into overdrive when you’re in a fight-or-flight situation. It courses through your brain when you’re threatened — and makes it hard to focus on anything but the immediate threat facing you. If you need to multitask or focus on something specific, high levels of cortisol can derail you. Without sufficient testosterone in your brain, cortisol can run the show, causing negative cognitive effects that you’ll definitely notice.
Fatigue and Insomnia
Low levels of testosterone definitely affect your energy levels. If you’re stumbling through each day with fatigue, or if your testosterone deficiency keeps you awake night after night, as it tends to do, difficulties with memory and focus are sure to follow.
When you’re trying to get through your regular day, but you feel as if everything is just out of reach and hard to focus on, you’re experiencing brain fog. The cognitive symptoms associated with this condition include loss of focus, inability to grasp anything with mental clarity, memory lapses and trouble finding the words you’re looking for.
That frustrating inability to find the right word has definitively been connected to low levels of testosterone. The good news for anyone suffering from the frustrations of brain fog is that studies show that boosting your testosterone levels can help you with verbal recall.
Your mental acuity is linked to testosterone as well. Do you ever feel as if your brain is slowing down, or that it doesn’t handle cognitive tasks as quickly as it used to? According to research studies, that’s very likely linked to the decrease in your testosterone levels that comes naturally with age. Testosterone levels also appear to be linked to the ease with which you learn new information and your ability to retrieve it when you need it.
When your testosterone levels are low, you’re likely to become irritable and cranky. You may also experience depression and anxiety, which also affect your ability to stay focused. Fortunately, boosting your testosterone is very likely to alleviate those symptoms. In fact, for some men, raising their testosterone levels is as effective as taking prescription antidepressant medications when it comes to treating depression.
How Testosterone Replacement Therapy Affects Your Brain
As you age, your body gradually reduces its production of testosterone. Starting in your early 30s, you can expect to see your testosterone levels decrease by about 1% per year. For many men, that results in testosterone levels that are below the normal range of 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter of blood. The effects of that decline in testosterone can, over time, result in a profound effect on your brain.
Testosterone replacement therapy can turn that decline (and those effects) around. Men who opt for testosterone replacement therapy can confidently expect an improvement in their overall cognitive function, and within months if not weeks. In fact, the older a man is, the greater the improvement will be in their spatial and verbal memory abilities, as well as their focus, language skills and ability to concentrate.
For many men, that means they can retain the sharp minds they had in their 20s. Testosterone replacement therapy can easily put an end to brain fog and mild cognitive impairment, and it may even help stave off Alzheimer’s disease.
What to Expect When You Seek Testosterone Replacement Therapy
The first step in learning whether testosterone replacement therapy is the right option for helping with your mental fog and inability to focus is getting your testosterone levels tested. Your doctor will run some simple blood tests to determine whether you have a testosterone deficiency, and whether your body can tolerate, and thrive, with testosterone replacement therapy.
If testosterone replacement therapy turns out to be right for you, you may find that it also helps with other symptoms. The fatigue you’ve been feeling, the muscular weakness, the weight gain and belly fat that’s been creeping on to your midsection, and of course any erectile dysfunction or loss of libido — all of those can be related to low testosterone levels. Seeking treatment for your brain fog could result in you finding solutions to a lot of problems you might not have been consciously aware you had.
And if your testosterone levels are normal, then your doctor has ruled out one major cause of cognitive dysfunction. You can now move on to find the explanation for the symptoms that have been plaguing you.
Your testosterone replacement therapy can be designed to suit your preferences and your lifestyle. You can choose between treatment options that let you administer your own medications in the privacy of your own home, or you can opt to have a long-lasting form of the treatment applied at your doctor’s office in or near Dallas. Your options include:
- Testosterone gel: This treatment is applied at home. You’ll rub the testosterone gel directly onto your body, typically on your arms, every day. The hormone diffuses through your skin to enter your bloodstream. Many men like being in control of their treatment with this method, but if you have children at home, you may want to choose another option. That’s because testosterone gel can have negative effects if it gets into (or onto) the wrong hands.
- Testosterone patches: This application takes the testosterone gel and puts it into patch form. Think of it as akin to an airsickness or nicotine patch. You’re still applying testosterone gel daily, but it’s in a form that isn’t dangerous if a child picks it up by mistake.
- Testosterone injections: With this treatment, you don’t have to think about your testosterone replacement therapy every day — but you do have to make more frequent visits to your doctor’s office. You’ll need to check in every two to 10 weeks to get your next injection.
- Testosterone pellets: This treatment option also requires you to visit your doctor’s office, but you’re good to go for several months after it’s applied. Your doctor will place small testosterone pellets under your skin (typically in your buttocks). From there, the pellets dispense tiny doses of testosterone constantly.
You should see effects of your testosterone replacement therapy in as quickly as three weeks. The first changes are likely to be felt in your mood and sense of well-being. All the cognitive benefits of testosterone replacement therapy should make themselves known within six months, at the longest. With those benefits will come improved muscle mass, decreased body fat, increased strength, increased bone density, decreased inflammation, and increased sexual interest and function.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy in Dallas, TX
If you’re concerned about the way your brain has been functioning, we are here to help at Texas Men’s Health Group, in Dallas, Texas. We can get to the bottom of what’s going on in your brain and perform the testing you need. We’ll help you understand the source of your problems, and if your low testosterone levels are an issue, we have the solutions.
At Texas Men’s Health Group, we deliver men’s health care in a safe, discreet environment. We know you’re unique, so we tailor treatments to fit you specifically. When you have hormonal issues of any kind, we are ready to help you find the solution you need. Contact us today to see how we can help with your brain fog and inability to concentrate. We can, and we care.