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Effect of Low Testosterone on Memory and Brain Health

Effect of Low Testosterone on Memory and Brain Health

By Mike Kocsis | 7 minutes read | Last updated: May 7, 2024
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

    Evidence Based Research

    We all experience moments in life when we forget to do something that we planned earlier or forget where we placed an important item. Well, these situations may seem frustrating, but they are a normal part of life.

    But when you start forgetting about things and important matters more frequently, you may have an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

    Though forgetfulness is a natural part of ageing, some experts believe that your low testosterone (low T) levels can cause or aggravate the situation.

    Testosterone is the main androgen in men. It is secreted by testes and plays different roles in the body throughout life. Some of its important roles include the appearance of facial or body hair, development of the libido, increase in bone density, increase in sperm count and improvement in cognitive function.

    When you become deficient in testosterone (your testosterone levels drop below normal levels of 300 nanograms/deciliter (ng/dL)), your body fails to properly execute the tasks that depend on testosterone. As a result, you may lose facial or body hair, fail to have an erection, lose bone density, experience depression, have a lack of energy, feel irritability, and experience a decline in cognitive abilities.

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    Now what to do

    Low T can reduce your level of productivity and make you unable to do certain tasks that you used to enjoy. If you experience any low T symptoms, you should not sit idle. Instead, take timely action to get the issue resolved in time.

    Visit your doctor and share your concerns. Tell him how you have been feeling lately. The doctor may run a physical examination like checking body hair, size of testicles, etc., before asking you to have a testosterone test.

    In this test, the amount of your total testosterone (a combination of free and attached testosterone) will be checked. If it is below the normal amount, you may have low T and need a proper treatment that can help you restore testosterone levels.

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    What can be the reason behind low T

    Low T can occur due to a multitude of reasons. The most common reasons why you may have this issue are:

    • Injury of testes
    • Hemochromatosis (which is having too much iron in your blood)
    • Medications and steroids
    • Cancer treatment like chemotherapy
    • Injury of the pituitary gland that regulates the testosterone formation
    • Liver damage
    • Alcohol abuse
    • Renal failure
    • AIDS
    • Obesity
    • Types 2 diabetes mellitus
    • Brain surgery
    • Ageing

    Whatever the reason may be, low T can have a negative impact on your life. Its symptoms that we have already mentioned earlier vary from one man to the other. One of these symptoms is a decline in brain health and cognitive function.

    Men with low T often experience brain fog, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, depression, and anxiety. These all signs may be somehow linked to a decline in brain health.

    Let’s understand the possible connection between testosterone levels and brain health through the following research work.

    Low testosterone is linked to Alzheimer’s disease

    According to research, low T in men increases their risk of the development of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related dementia.

    The research was conducted on 153 older Chinese men by the scientists at the University of Hong Kong. At the start of the research, their cognitive function was tested. 47 of the total men were reported to have mild cognitive impairment.

    In a year, 10 out of 153 men developed Alzheimer’s disease. These 10 men were from the group of 47 men who were initially reported to have poor cognitive function. Their testosterone levels were also low.

    In this study, researchers worked on three independent predictors of the development of Alzheimer’s disease. These predictors were low testosterone levels, high systolic pressure, and the existence of apolipoprotein E (ApoE) protein genotype.

    The solution according to the researchers

    Researchers concluded that restoring levels of testosterone may be the best way of restoring cognitive decline and improving overall mental health. For this, patients may need to have testosterone replacement therapy.

    According to the researcher Scott Moffat, PhD, more research needs to be done to understand the role of testosterone clearly. It is yet unknown whether testosterone directly prevents Alzheimer’s disease or another factor, which is associated with testosterone levels, is playing this role.

    If testosterone is really the cause behind the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, then the prominent benefits of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) would overweight its risks. According to the researchers, men receiving TRT should be closely examined to make sure their testosterone levels stay normal, and no serious side effects appear.

    The connection between testosterone and cortisol levels

    Another possible reason behind the reduction in cognitive function due to low T might be the connection between testosterone and cortisol levels.

    Cortisol is also called the stress hormone, for it is secreted in high concentration when you are under stress. We all know that our brains fail to concentrate and think properly during stress. When you have chronically high cortisol levels, you may often experience issues like lack of concentration, mental clarity, etc. so, reducing cortisol levels may help you overcome this issue.

    You might be thinking about what the role of testosterone in it is? Many scientists believe that your testosterone levels drop automatically when your cortisol levels are high. So, when your blood has high cortisol constantly, it might be difficult for the body to produce sufficient testosterone.

    Some experts believe that increasing the levels of testosterone may help people manage their cortisol levels and bring a balance.

    What should you do if you notice mental health decline?

    If you think you forget things very frequently and it has become hard to concentrate, it is best to visit your doctor to find the underlying cause. Several things can contribute to poor cognitive function and brain health.

    Your doctor will get your medical history and then conduct different tests to diagnose the real cause behind poor mental health. He will offer you treatment based on the cause of the issue. If the cause is low T, then the best possible solution might be TRT.

    Restore your testosterone levels with testosterone replacement therapy

    Testosterone replacement therapy is a treatment in which synthetic testosterone or derivatives of testosterone are used to restore the levels of testosterone in the blood. This treatment is given to people who cannot produce testosterone in the normal concentration or, in short, those who are deficient in testosterone.

    Testosterone is inserted into the body through different means such as injections, medications, gels, patches, etc. You can tell your physician or therapist how you want to take testosterone, or your doctor can also guide you on which testosterone is right for you.

    Other benefits of testosterone replacement therapy

    TRT is an effective treatment for those who have low testosterone concentration in their blood. It can help them recover their testosterone levels and start enjoying life once again.

    Here are the key benefits of having TRT.

    • TRT can restore your bone mineral density which can help you prevent issues like bone fractures and osteoporosis.
    • It may also reduce the accumulation of fats and promote muscle mass growth.
    • The research related to TRT and heart health shows mixed results. But some small studies indicate that TRT can help people improve their heart health slightly. In one study, researchers found out that people who get TRT therapy are likely to have 26%fewer chances of having a heart attack. Their chance to have a heart stroke is also reduced by 36%.
    • TRT can help you improve your sex life by having more sex drive and a better erection.
    • The treatment may also reduce your mood swings, restore energy levels, and help you fight off depression and anxiety.
    • It may improve your concentration and brain health.

    Risk of testosterone replacement therapy

    Though TRT has many benefits, there are also some risks associated with it. People who have TRT may experience the following issues.

    • Pimples on the face
    • Reduction in the sperm count
    • Increase in the breast size
    • Decrease in the size of testicles

    TRT has more benefits than side effects. Learn its pros and cons in detail from the therapist to find if it is suitable for you or not.

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    Summing it up

    Researchers have not yet understood the clear role of testosterone in improving cognitive health, but they believe that people who are deficient in testosterone are more likely to develop mental health issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

    Therefore, getting testosterone replacement therapy might be the right solution for increasing your testosterone levels and improving brain health.

    References/Scientific Studies/Further Reading/Study Material/Bibliography

    Kenny, A.M., Fabregas, G., Song, C., Biskup, B. and Bellantonio, S., 2004. Effects of testosterone on behaviour, depression, and cognitive function in older men with mild cognitive loss. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 59(1), pp.M75-M78.

    Lv, W., Du, N., Liu, Y., Fan, X., Wang, Y., Jia, X., Hou, X. and Wang, B., 2016. Low testosterone level and risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Molecular neurobiology53(4), pp.2679-2684.


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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject. You can read more about our Editorial Process by clicking here.

    We value your feedback on our articles, if you have a well-researched paper you would like to share with us please contact us.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike KocsisMike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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    Last update: May 7th, 2024
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