Lifestyle Training

My Low T Journey: Symptoms Before Testosterone Replacement Therapy

before trt testosterone replacement therapy

Note – This is the second of a four-part series.  Click here for Part 1  for a primer,  here for Part 3 regarding my TRT results, and here for Part 4 on finding treatment.

I suffered for many years with serious symptoms of low testosterone.

For a long time, I assumed that all of my physical, mental, and emotional shortcomings were due to my failings as a person.

That I was weak, that I wasn't on the right program or diet, that I wasn't working hard enough, that if I could just stop being pathetic and “get my head in the game,” I'd be able to fix problems that had plagued me my entire adult life.

When I got my low T diagnosis in spring of 2014, it allowed me clarity into many years of struggle and validation that maybe I was doing things right all along – just sans the testosterone necessary to make the changes I so desperately wanted.

So why am I telling you all of this?

Am I attempting to make myself sound pathetic?

If that was the case, after reading this post, I think you'll agree with me when I say Mission: Accomplished!

But obviously that’s not what this is about.

I’m telling you about all of this because there is a happy ending here!

In the next article, I'll detail how being diagnosed and treated for low testosterone has allowed me to overcome the vast majority of my symptoms and has greatly reduced the severity of those that remain.

Keep in mind as you read this that, if any of my experiences sound familiar, there are other people going through the same thing and there are ways to fix it.

The two typical paths to correcting low T are: (a) lifestyle intervention and (b) testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Before resigning oneself to a lifetime of medications and injections though, the first step is start living the high T lifestyle.

Living a High Testosterone lifestyle

As I noted in my Intro to Testosterone and TRT post, lifestyle can be a major factor in causing low T, especially for young men.

However, at the time of my low T diagnosis, I was living the highest T lifestyle possible, but had a testosterone level of 289 ng/dL (when a man my age should've been at least between 600 and 700 ng/dL).

But what does living a high T lifestyle mean?

Much has been written about increasing your testosterone naturally in recent years.

Most of the tips aren’t anything revolutionary, but rather, are aimed at correcting imbalances of our modern lifestyle.

Prior to my initial blood work in March 2014, I was living a lifestyle very conducive to supporting high T.

This is the way I was living and these are the things I was doing, all of which are commonly recommended to naturally boost testosterone production:

  • Lifting weights 3 to 5 days per week for over 5 years,
  • Sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night (every night),
  • Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits (including some super foods),
  • Supplementing with vitamins and minerals (D3, zinc, magnesium, etc.)
  • Consuming lean meat and eggs 4 to 6 times per day
  • Hovering around 10% body fat (obesity is associated with low T)

In addition to all this, I was not:

  • Having any family, professional, or financial problems causing excess stress,
  • Taking any medications or drugs,
  • Smoking (and hadn’t had a cigarette in almost 7 years),
  • Drinking excessively,
  • Using steroids or pro hormones (and had never used them),
  • Suffering any other known health problems.

Finally, I have never experienced serious trauma to my brain or testes (and I plan to keep it that way!).

That’s about as High T lifestyle as you can get. And what were the results of my efforts?

I looked like an active, 80-year old man (and I felt like it).

Other men have reported doubling their testosterone levels by incorporating these practices.

Seeing what my initial values were, I cringe at the thought of how abysmal my levels could have been had I not been doing everything in my power to raise them naturally.

Despite doing all that I could’ve been doing to encourage healthy testosterone levels, I was experiencing nearly all of the emotional, mental, and physical symptoms of low T.

Symptoms before TRT

I’ve always felt emotionally, physically, and mentally weak and was very unsure of myself. I'm sure that's quite shocking for most people to find out because looking from the outside, I have it pretty good.

I’m tall, fairly good looking, intelligent, and have a good life in general.

But on the inside, things never felt quite right.

Keep in mind, the following is how I used to feel. Things are quite different for me now.

Emotional symptoms from low testosterone

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a host of emotional “problems.” Nothing that warranted a hospital visit, but prohibitive none the less.

These symptoms included:

  • Lack of confidence
  • No competitive drive
  • Social anxiety
  • Moderate depression
  • General feeling of helplessness
  • Bad temper

Now, I’m really not one to talk about my feelings.

But I think it’s really important to be open about the things I experienced for many years because I want to help other guys out there who may be feeling the same.

That said, I want to give you an in-depth idea of the struggles I was facing on a daily basis.

Low self-worth

I knew logically I was pretty awesome, but I didn’t actually feel that way.

I was only capable of seeing and focusing on my faults, and they were magnified a thousand times.

Anything I was good at or did well my mind would reduce to complete insignificance and I would continue to focus on the negative.

For a long time, I didn’t understand the source of this self-loathing. This wasn’t a learned behavior.

I didn’t have anyone tearing me down as a child and I don’t have anything or anyone to point fingers at. That’s not the type of person I am anyway.

My parents, teachers, and friends all recognized me as talented in almost everything I took part in, I just couldn’t internalize it.

I’d always had this overwhelming feeling of hatred for myself and I couldn’t pinpoint the cause or how to correct it.

Anxiety

Despite having all the things that normally instill confidence in a man, I was awkward in normal social situations. Meeting new people was always stressful.

My fear was that the conversation would require me to talk about myself, and for someone with extremely low self-confidence, that was a scary subject.

In the last few years, I was able to increase my confidence and overcome a lot my social anxiety by really focusing on improving my personal style and losing as much body fat as I could.

But that can only take you so far when you have a serious hormone deficiency.

Anger

Where anger is concerned, I’ve always been a very irritable person.

I chose to be very nice and personable, but sometimes my emotions would overrule my brain. I would basically explode if I was faced with a problem and didn’t see an immediate solution.

Even in my twenties, I still had the self control of an angry teenager. Not a good look on a grown man.

Often times, when I was in a situation that was frustrating, upsetting, or disappointing, those feelings morphed and were expressed as one thing: rage.

And when I got mad, usually the only thing I  could do to feel better was to hit something. Never a person (though I wanted to many times), but a lot of my possessions took the brunt of my anger before TRT.

When my wife and I were first dating, I was showing her what had once been my basement bedroom at my parents' house. Taped all over the walls were lame pictures of cars from magazines.

“What's with the weird car pictures?” she asked. So I started peeling the faded pages from the wall. Behind every page, was two or three fist holes through the drywall where I had tried to hide all the times I had lost my temper.

Years later, I felt like I was still that same pissed off teenager with no control over my anger.

Depression

I’ve always been extremely good at being disciplined in the things I do.

I was a pack-a-day smoker from the ages of 13 to 23 and quit cold turkey, I can go months without spending money on entertainment, and over the past 6 years I can count the number of workouts I’ve missed on one hand.

When I set my mind to something, there isn’t anything that can stop me from doing what I set out to do.

But I was never able to figure out a way to control the way I felt.

I could read all the books, practice the exercises, and form the habits, but once I felt depression looming, there was no stopping it.

As soon as I noticed my thoughts going in a negative direction, I would try to get a jump on it by making a list of the good things in my life, occupying my mind with work or fun, or listening to up-beat music.

But my thoughts would spiral out of control and leave me feeling hopeless for anywhere between a few days to several weeks.

Then, like a light switch, I would feel perfectly fine and was free to go on with life for months without feeling depressed again.

I was never able to identify a trigger, it just happened without warning.

When I got depressed, it felt like I would never be happy again. Every positive thought and memory was removed from my mind as if they never existed and every bad thought and feeling I'd ever had would well up inside me and drive me crazy.

It felt like I was being hounded by a Dementor (for those of you who are familiar with Harry Potter).

I have never been suicidal but I used to often feel that life wasn't worth living.

I’ve never discussed these depressive symptoms with a doctor because, until my current care provider, I'd never actually had a medical professional really listen to me and didn’t feel comfortable initiating the conversation.

Despite all of these weaknesses, I always held myself accountable for the way I felt and the things I did.

I never once thought “there must be something medically wrong with me” or “I need professional treatment for this.”

My focus was always on improving in any way I could. I just chalked the symptoms up to not being ambitious enough, having a lazy attitude, or acting like a pussy in general.

Mental effects from low testosterone

When I was very young, I thought of myself as being pretty sharp. But in my mid to late twenties, I couldn’t even ballpark the tip at a restaurant.

I would stare at a check and not even really be thinking, just staring until someone snatched it from my hand and did the math themselves.

The same thing would happen at work or school, I would just stare at books and computer screens. Most tasks took me twice as long as they should’ve because I had to re-read everything.

It would best be described as mental fog. I didn't feel stupid, my mind was just extremely lazy.

If a daily problem wasn’t easily fixed, I didn’t have any interest in solving it.

I was capable of deep introspective thought and could make complex connections about the world, but routine tasks felt almost impossible.

Basically I was good at daydreaming, but had trouble functioning in daily life.

Sexual effects from low testosterone

Sex has been extremely low on my list of priorities since my late teens. I guess my libido was normal in my early to mid teens, but after that it was almost nonexistent.

Throughout most of my 20s, I would’ve been perfectly satisfied with a once per month schedule. Or even less frequently.

Unlike many guys suffering from low T, erectile dysfunction was essentially the only symptom I didn't have. But just because everything was in working order didn't mean I wanted to use it.

Since everything functioned normally, I strongly suspect that low testosterone wasn’t actually the direct cause of my decreased libido.

It’s more likely that it affected me indirectly by exacerbating my sense of failure, feelings of anger and frustration, and depressive symptoms, which were more likely to blame for my low libido.

Physical side effects from low testosterone

Luckily, I grew up nice and tall, have normal body and facial hair, a deep voice, and all the wedding tackle is in order (not always so with people who have naturally low T).

But anything related to performance and adaptation has been severely underwhelming.

Strength and muscle gains

As I said, I chalked up my mental and emotional flaws to just being a pussy.

But there was no denying that my near inability to gain muscle was pointing to a serious problem.

If a man has a decent diet and puts an honest effort into continually making progress in the gym, he should improve a noticeable amount. No question about it.

So what was going on with me?

Lack of Progress – High School (2000 – 2004)

Going as far back as high school when my testosterone levels should've been “through the roof” as everyone likes to point out, my progress in the weight room moved at a snail's pace, if at all.

Despite a solid lifting program, bodybuilder's diet, and almost scary levels of enthusiasm, I was making next to no progress.

I did managed to take my bench press from 115×10 to 135×10 within about 6 months or so, but it didn’t budge from there.

My muscle mass didn't increase during that time, so I can attribute the minor strength gain to learning the technique and improved neurological efficiency.

My only explanation at the time was that I wasn’t working hard enough or hadn’t found the right program, diet, or combination of the two.

And I wasn’t simply going through the motions or just “working out with the guys” as most high schoolers do.

Upon diving into bodybuilding I was completely invested and immediately took control of my diet and recovery habits. No doubt about it, bodybuilding was going to play a crucial part in my life.

Within a short amount of time, I could change my bodyweight as easily as I could write numbers on a sheet of paper.

But as I would bulk up at less than a pound per week, I still ended up gaining five times as much fat as I did muscle.

Then, as I would lose the fat at a slow and controlled rate, every ounce of muscle I’d gained would go with it.  And I was gaining ounces of muscle, not pounds.

This continued in a similar fashion off and on for roughly the next 15 years. (Though I did take a 4 to 5 year break in which I was working various manual labor jobs that left me permanently exhausted and in the worst shape of my life.)

Lack of Progress – College and after (2009 – 2014)

Once I decided I’d had enough of the back breaking labor, I quit my job, enrolled in a 4-year Fitness Management program, and dedicated my life to achieving a great physique.

During this time, I monitored everything I ate and drank. Not to the level of ruining other aspects of my life, but everything that went into my body received some kind of consideration.

I lifted weights 3 to 5 days per week, always focusing on progressing in the big lifts and pumping up with plenty of accessory work.

I tried every major training style and technique and gave each a good lengthy run. I did cardio occasionally, but never overemphasized it.

In addition to busting my ass in the gym, I spent hours a day reading articles, talking to anyone who seemed knowledgable, and studying course material for my exercise science classes.

Bodybuilding was my life!

But you couldn't tell from the outside.

before trt testosterone replacement therapy skinny

During college and a couple years after, I was giving my body every ounce of effort and was getting almost nothing in return.

After 6 years of consistent, brutal training, people would say things like “oh, you work out? Are you a marathon runner?” or “what do you do for exercise, yoga?”

And based on my appearance, I couldn’t blame them for their assumptions.

At this point, that same bench press of 135×10 I worked up to in high school still took me to within a rep or two of muscular failure.

Talk about a kick in the dick. I had dedicated my life to one thing and was getting almost nothing in return.

All of my friends and family would comment every time we were together “You’re so skinny!” or  “have you lost weight since I saw you last?”

In my head I was screaming “No, I’ve just been squatting, benching, deadlifting, and eating fucking absurd amounts of meat and eggs!”

But I would just reply, “Oh, you know, I weigh about the same.”

They thought I looked better as 200 lbs of chewed bubblegum and made sure I was constantly aware of the fact.

Injuries

I’ve never had a serious injury in the gym, such as tearing a muscle or blowing out a knee under the bar, but I always had some form of overuse injury.

While working construction, I herniated a disc and broke a vertebrae, so that was always a struggle to work around.

Beyond back issues, I always had either achy knees, burning and crunching in my shoulders, or some inflammation in various tendons.

I truly never thought that there was anything medically wrong with me, so I just kept pushing myself harder and harder.

I would attempt to progress at the rate described by other lifters or as a program had laid out.

That means on 5×5 programs, I was adding 5 lbs per workout. This resulted in choppy lifting speeds, sub-optimal bar path, and 5 to 10 minute breaks between sets.

When your body doesn't respond to a stimulus by getting stronger, but you consistently increase your demands, injuries are inevitable.

I just kept digging deeper and deeper into my recovery abilities and this perpetuated my diagnostic process.

I would think to myself, “It’s the injuries and resetting that are holding me back. I’m going to heal, start a new program and diet, and hit it hard this time!”

I was living in a constant cycle of pushing my body beyond its capabilities, injuring myself, blaming my lack of progress on the injuries, and then throwing myself as hard as possible into the next program in an attempt to “get it right.”

Cardio

Typically when you train your cardiovascular system, it becomes more efficient. Meaning your heart will have to beat fewer times per minute at a given workload to pump the same volume of blood.

For example, let’s say you checked your heart rate (HR) at the beginning of a 3 month training program and registered 150 beats per minute (BPM) when jogging at a 10-minute mile pace.

After training for 3 months, your HR should now be lower, maybe 140 BPM, at the same 10-minute mile pace.

As a class requirement one particular semester, I had to design a cardio program for myself, adhere to it, and document my improvements.

As I said before, I’ve never relied too much on cardio for my fitness goals, so I should've had plenty of room for improvement.

I included at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular training per week (clinical guidelines) consisting of a mix of steady state and interval training.

I was diligent about recording my heart rates and gave the program full effort for the entire semester.

My results?

I made ZERO improvement.

My heart rate was exactly the same for the same workload despite a solid 4 to 5 months of vigorous training, including a weightlifting program and classic bodybuilding diet.

I may have looked like a skinny marathon runner, but after the semester was over, I still felt like I was going to die after jogging 3 miles at a 12-minute mile pace.

It wasn’t only my skeletal muscle that was stubborn – my body all but refused to adapt to any type of training stimulus.

Note – If any of this sounds familiar and you want get your levels checked, call the company I use, Primebody.com and get a free consultation, $25 off your monthly fee, and an additional 10% off your first month and when you use the code Lewis27.

Why did I fight for so long?

Growing up as a weak, pudgy kid and then morphing into a skinny-fat adult, there was nothing in the world I wanted more than an aesthetic beach body.

In hindsight, it never should’ve taken me as long as it did to get my hormones checked.

I guess it’s just my personality to not look for the “easy way out.”

Even with my extreme lack of progress, it took over 4 years of grinding away before the word “steroid” even entered my mind.

I never used them, but the thought would creep in every once in a while.

I kept learning and trying out new programs and techniques and working even harder (if that was even possible).

With all of my knowledge and determination, I was always bulking or cutting, striving for progress. But I was always taking two steps forward and the same two steps back.

I kept myself motivated with these bulking and cutting cycles for a long time. I would see the numbers on the scale moving and kept pushing harder.

I knew exactly what needed to be done in order to achieve a fantastic physique… it just didn’t work on me.

To give myself a little credit, I did make some progress over the 6 years of training and dieting. I managed to lose about 30 lbs of body fat, gained maybe a couple pounds of muscle, and got a little stronger.

This left me looking better and made dressing myself well a lot easier, but I was nowhere near where I wanted to be.

It basically took me over 6 years to make 6 months of progress.

Dealing with the frustration

When I go over my notes and compare body fat percentages and girth measurements, they were always just about the same for a given bodyweight, even though they were years apart.

How was it that I could spend two years working on strength and mass, cut some fat and end up with almost identical chest, thigh, and arm measurements as I started with?

I was gaining and losing the exact same 30 lbs and it was unbelievably frustrating!

Now, if you don’t get results in the gym, you’re automatically labeled as a “pussy.”

No matter how hard people see you training and no matter how much they see you eating, they simply cannot separate results from effort.

There were guys who I would see everyday in the gym for years. One day we would get to talking and they would hint at my lack of progress.

I would reply by explaining how poorly my body responded to weight training.

They would follow up with something like “Have you tried eating peanut butter?” or “Do you bench? Benching makes you huge.”

These are the same guys who’d seen me squatting, deadlifting, and bench pressing for the past three years and “peanut butter” was the best they could come up with?

Never giving up

In addition to how I was perceived by others, my lackluster gym results were a major contributor to my negative self-image.

I truly couldn't understand how an intelligent, hardworking man such as myself could be so terrible at his craft.

As an aspiring fitness professional who couldn't make significant changes to his own physique I felt absolutely useless.

Imagine an engineering student whose scale models repeatedly crumble under their own weight despite proper design, materials, and construction. They’d surely consider another career.

But quitting was never an option for me, no matter how much it seemed I wasn’t cut out for my chosen goal.

This was something I wanted more than anything so I just kept searching for answers.

And once I finally found them, things turned around for me.

Remember, I've just laid out how my life used to be. The good stuff is in the next article!

Talk to you soon,

Nate

Note – This is the second of a four-part series.  Click here for Part 1  for a primer,  here for Part 3 regarding my TRT results, and here for Part 4 on finding treatment.

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66 Comments

  • Reply
    Johnny Lionseed
    August 25, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I have never considered even once that I had low-t. It didn’t even cross my mind. But after reading this I realize that I’m probably on the lower end of normal. I don’t have confidence issues, but I definitely have a bit of brain fog and deal with depression at times. I’ll be super motivated and then start to feel like what I’m motivated about is pointless and that I’m not making enough progress and should give up. I’m able to push through most of the time, but I can still feel the thought, you know? You’ve opened my eyes with this post. Stuff I thought was just normal human stuff might actually be something I should bring up next time I see my doctor.

    • Reply
      Nate
      August 25, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      I know exactly what you mean. The only reason I knew something was wrong was because I didn’t feel the same hopelessness all the time. Most of the time I could just push through the hard times, as you said, but other times the smallest hang ups were crippling and I couldn’t figure out why.

      Some of these symptoms can be attributed to other things, but it never hurts to get a hormone screen just to make sure.

      • Reply
        Jacob
        August 28, 2015 at 5:02 pm

        I have pretty bad brain fog, especially in the morning. Gingko biloba has helped, but I wonder if it has to do with low T. Great article, Nate. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Reply
    Vadim Fedorovsky
    August 25, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Wow Nate. That was a well written, personal, and motivating story. Very in depth and I can relate to a lot of your struggles. Thank you for sharing that with us. I can’t wait for part 3.

    -Vadim

  • Reply
    John
    August 25, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    The truth is most there is little mentioned about resistance training effect on testosterone during the recovery period. T levels tank afterwords. You will see it everywhere on the net. Guys hit a plateau and then ask questions about T levels. Most commonly they get checked and end up in the 200-300 range. Not saying that was your problem but it is for many guys. There is also stories about guys still making gains at this low level.

    There is also little mention about how 5×5 routines suck for hypertrophy. Truth is they do! Most gains are not true strength but technique. 5×5 is also awesome for overuse injuries even though reps are low. I now all about these crackling shoulders and knees from that routine as well as the poor gains in the mirror.

    There is no denying mindset has much more to do with confidence than T levels. In fact the mental boost may even be placebo effect. Do 70 year old men lack confidence? Fuck no! Many of those old guys will be the first to stand up against or for something even in their frail shape.

    Sure we all start lifting with a vision of what our bodies will look like down the road. That vision is often one of someone else’s body we have seen. Even though the muscle mass and tone is modest on some it is still likely influenced by supplemental anabolics or TRT. Suprisingly even you are a great example of this. You are not a monster in size but have a physique that most natty lifters would admire.

    I have no problem with steroid use or TRT at all but I think we need a dose of red pill to go along with it to help us make the decision. I’m certainly not claiming anything you said is false or TRT is not needed It just tends to be a little over marketed as a fountain of youth instead of a true therapy by drug makers.

    • Reply
      Nate
      August 25, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Lots of nuggets of wisdom here. I agree that people shouldn’t rush into things or look for the easy out. All lifestyle factors should be exhausted before committing to a lifetime of injections.

      That’s exactly why I had my nose to the grindstone non-stop for over 6 years. But the truth is, if you’ve tried everything and do everything right, but still make zero progress, there’s no denying that something is really wrong.

      • Reply
        Fabio
        August 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm

        Hey Nate, in the previous article you said that hCG helps preserving natural testosterone production in case you wanted to cease treatment. In case you do that will your test remain the same you started with or are there consequences (like lower levels)?

        I always tought that once you start treatment (not necessarily for medical purpose, even though I think I might suffer of slightly-low T) you can’t go back.

        • Reply
          Nate
          August 26, 2015 at 12:52 am

          TRT is generally thought of as a lifelong commitment. I wouldn’t recommend anyone begin treatment unless they have a real need and are willing to go all in. With that said, if you do decide to come off, the best case scenario is that you’ll go back to the shitty levels you started with.

          Including hCG isn’t a guarantee, but the idea is to never let your testes shut down just in case. You never know when other medical issues will arise and it’s always good to have a backup plan. Plenty of guys have come off for one reason or another and were able to get back to where they were.

          • TK
            September 6, 2017 at 5:19 pm

            Great question Fabio, and awesome answer Nate. Your series was already eye-opening on TRT as a possibility, but this is the answer I was looking for to think of things on a long-term basis. I tested at 433 a year ago and was told by my doctor in the same way as yours that there was nothing to be concerned about. Making the jump in after arming myself with all the right information.

          • Nate
            September 21, 2017 at 9:14 am

            Glad to help, TK!

  • Reply
    Dalton Finney - Naked Charisma
    August 25, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Tremendous article. And, I’m pumped that it’s only Part 2 of 4!

    I’ve definitely seen improvements in T since following the standard advice (lift weights, eggs, meat, butter, cooling off on the booze & sugar) but this article made me realize I need to be safe and find out for sure. I’m going to schedule some blood tests at my urologist this afternoon.

    I always chalked up low T to high fat, low metabolism, difficulty in building muscles, no boners, etc. But, I never connected the dots on “brain fog”. That was a problem for ages with me. Lifting absolutely kicks my ass out of that (along with no sugar).

    Keep it up, homey!
    Dalton

    • Reply
      Nate
      August 26, 2015 at 12:55 am

      It’s great to hear from you again, Dalton!

      Improving those lifestyle factors can have a tremendous impact on the way you feel. It’s always good to at least get the blood work done so you have an idea of what’s going on.

      Let’s plan on meeting up soon. I’ll email you when I get some free time.

  • Reply
    Dee
    August 25, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Nate,
    First off thanks for putting out an honest article talking about your struggles that I can definitely relate to. I had no idea just how much hormones can alter your life. It seem like us men are neglected and we just suffer in silence. What tests would you recommend to check my hormone levels? Im working to naturally optimize my hormone levels but im not sure if its helping.

    • Reply
      Nate
      August 26, 2015 at 1:01 am

      Thanks, Dee! When your hormones are screwed up it feels like you aren’t in control. You can make the decisions to do this and that, but your body is fighting you every step of the way.

      In the fourth article I’m going to talk about the diagnostic process so hang tight and you’ll have that info soon.

  • Reply
    Daniel
    August 26, 2015 at 3:45 am

    Great series, and looking forward to the rest of it.

    One other recommendation on the “lifestyle intervention” approach: Use power poses and postures every day. Changes in physical posture have been shown to increase T. The poses can include explicit power pose exercises such as Mike Cernovich advocates as well as simply making a habit of holding oneself in more assertive, confident postures generally. More evidence for the effectiveness of “fake it till you make it”.

  • Reply
    Chase Power
    August 26, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    Game changer bro. This messgae needs to be spread.

    Womens birth control pills (estrogen, progesterone) get into our water, guys eat badly, stress, bad lifestyle habits etc. Long story short, shit happens and things go wrong that can cause a mans balls to die. Shit happens. Are you going to do something about it or be a victim? Obviously the readers here at Iron and tweed are not victims.

    Test is best. Its something that I think every man over 35 SHOULD take if they are qualified.

    Thanks for sharing brother

  • Reply
    Chris
    September 10, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as they say. Clearly something is wrong if your production is so low. All the toxins including estrogen(lol) that lead to low T tend to be fat soluable, thus stored in excess body fat, but I don’t think that is your issue, based on the pictures of yourself that you put up. I learned recently also that when a man has excess bodyfat, a certain hormone is released that causes brain damage(another thing that can lead to low T). Stay lean and mean and check your balls! Have you looked into PCT’s like chlomid?

    Shit, that’s some major discipline to live that way. You were a fool to plug away so hard without stopping to consider why you were having such a hard time, though. There’s a few things I take that increase natural production, mainly DOPA mucuna. I too plan to go on TRT when I get to such a point that low T hinders my lifestyle, but I’d rather put it off and use such “softer” options for the time being. I just really hate needles!

    • Reply
      Nate
      September 10, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      I was fairly lean for a number of years before getting tested, so you’re right that that likely wasn’t the issue. I haven’t looked into any PCT’s as I plan to stay on for the long haul.

  • Reply
    Pierre-Marc
    September 18, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Good article. What if you’re naturally shy and introverted, but still pack on muscle easily. Is shyness and timidity always a sign of low t?

    • Reply
      Nate
      September 18, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      It isn’t always associated with low T. For some, that can just be your individual personality characteristics. I would only be concerned if it’s accompanied by several of the other low T symptoms.

  • Reply
    vince
    October 2, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Great article. I had my testosterone checked and other hormones checked since I suspected myself as having low t. the tests came back very similar to yours maybe a little higher like in the 300 ng/dl i was put on hcg and it had gone up to around 500. I still feel like crap though depressed with its up and downs my drive for accomplishing tasks are really low I am having to force myself to do things when i’d rather lay in bed. I am having mood swings but not to a point where I punch a wall. I do bottle it up inside and it’s making my head hurt.
    I have to ask you, you mentioned the TRT shots but what about the slow release pills?

    • Reply
      Nate
      October 3, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Vince, that’s very similar to my experience with hCG. It brought my total T up to a decent range, but my free T was still in the dumps. I don’t have any experience with the pellets, but have read that they’re painful and don’t always release evenly. I wasn’t interested in trying that route. Injections, for now at least, is the most reliable delivery method. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Kurt
    October 7, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Great site Nate.. gives confidence that TRT does help not like what you hear on on the forums.. What does your TRT protocol look like?
    200mg every what days?
    Hcg at what and when?
    Ai at what and when?
    Any supplements you take?
    To help us out on what’s a good protocol looks like.
    Also do you have blood work?
    TT, FT, DHT, Estrogen, TSH, FT3, FT4 ect..

    • Reply
      Nate
      October 8, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      My weekly dose of test is 200 mg, hCG is 500 iu, and Anastrozol is 0.5 mg. I take half of all three on Monday morning, and then the other half on Thursday evening to get and even every 3.5 days. For supplements I take whey protein, multi vitamin, pre-workout, BCAAs on a regular basis. My free and total T levels at various stages of treatment are in the articles. But I didn’t mention E2 which has never been a problem for me, probably due to low body fat. Before treatment it was 8 pg/mL, reference range 3-70. After going up to 200mg on the test, it got into the top half of the range but the really small dose of Anastrozol has me sitting right at 20 pg/mL which is perfect. My original TSH was 1.26, reference range 0.4 – 4.5 mIU/L.

  • Reply
    The Best of August - Bold and Determined
    October 8, 2015 at 2:17 am

    […] My Low T Journey: Symptoms Before Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) […]

  • Reply
    Gladiator
    November 12, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Man just stumbled across this site and the content is amazing!
    Reading your story it’s almost like I wrote it about myself (for the most part).
    I’m 48 and started lifting 3 years ago with just about zero progress despite all I do.
    Had my test levels tested and the results were as follows:
    Total Test: 360 ng/dl
    Free Test: 62.08 pg/ml
    My doc wrote a script for me to see a urologist but I’ve been nervous about beginning TRT.
    After reading this series though I’m going to seriously consider it after I arm myself with more knowledge (I’m not one to blindly jump into something).
    Besides the test and HCG are there any other medicines that are suggested?
    Something to control estrogen perhaps?
    Any advice would be appreciated and keep up the great work.
    I will be sharing this site with all my friends!

    • Reply
      Nate
      November 14, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Gladiator, it’s a good feeling to know that you’re not alone. I even feel better after receiving emails and comments in response this series. I know I was hesitant to make such a life altering decision but I comforted myself with the fact that I could always try TRT and simply stop if it wasn’t what I expected. It’s very unlikely that running a therapeutic dose of testosterone for a few months is going to have any lasting effects on our natural production. I do use a very small dose of Anastrozol to control estrogen and it works like a charm.

  • Reply
    Raging Lion Enhancement Supplement
    December 21, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I was curious if you ever considered changing the page layput
    of your blog? Its vey well written; I lov what youve got
    to say. But maybe you could a little mode in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Yojve got an awful lot of text for only having one or ttwo images.

    Maybe you could spce it oout better?

  • Reply
    Fredrik
    December 27, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Hi. Just wondered if i could ask you regards to TRT. Im in a calorie deficit, training compund movements 3 times a week. Have lost about 8 kilo. After my last shot of test (i take Nebido every 8 weeks) my weight has got up 2,3 kg despite that im in a deficit. This in just over 2 weeks. Frustrating. My waist is still The same. Is it normal to experience weight gains due to water retention on TRT? Does the weight normalise? Thanks. You are inspiring👍

    • Reply
      Nate
      December 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      I’m not familiar with Nebido, but would say that the weight gain is either water weight or muscle gain. If you’re eating at a deficit testosterone won’t make you gain extra body fat, so you should be in good shape. I think you should look for a pattern (i.e. weight jumps one week after shot and then declines) to see if it’s the TRT causing it. Good luck and don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely you’re gaining fat.

  • Reply
    Fredrik
    February 7, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Hi again. Just need a wiew on what has happend lately. My weight has gone further up, now i have gained back 5 kg!!!! In about 6 weeks that is. Since my weight stalled last time and even went up over 2 kg, i thought i reset the system and i went a little higher in calories, appr. 2100 now. I have done this just for a week and woops… 5 kg. My waist have gone up 1 cm. Not much but i take it as a sign that im gaining a little fat. Any thoughts on this? Is this a good thing, or should i take a different approach? Is it The TRT thats finally make my body respond properly? I also do intermittent Fasting. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Nate
      February 7, 2016 at 11:42 am

      How is your strength in the gym? Also, are you measuring other body parts such as chest, arms, or thighs? I’m thinking that you’re just finally responding to the weight lifting. I gained roughly 20 lbs of muscle in my first year on TRT.

  • Reply
    Fredrik
    February 7, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for the quick response. I am 41 by the way. My strenght is going up in all exercises, exept for The weighted pullups. I have good energy and feel great actually. I havent measurements anything but my waist and biceps. My width on my upper arms have gone from 39 cm to 39,5 cm. I will start measuring my chest and thighs today. If this is muscle im gaining it is great of course, but im freeking out a little. Feeling a little sloppy. I have been focused on eating right The past 10 months and feel like i am back to where i started in terms of weight.

    • Reply
      Nate
      February 8, 2016 at 5:28 am

      I wouldn’t worry. The fact that your strength is going up, your back is getting larger, and you’re only eating 2,100 calories makes me think that you’re gaining muscle, not fat.

  • Reply
    Steve
    February 25, 2016 at 1:07 am

    Hey man, great article. I’m trying to figure out if low-T is the main source of my issues. I’m 34 years old and was diagnosed with depression 16 years ago and have tried over 35 medications, 1000+ hours of therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, countless supplements, etc., all to no avail. And the depression symptoms have become progressively worse. I wouldn’t say I’m ever sad – I really don’t feel much of anything. I have zero motivation at work because I cant concentrate, barely enough at home to feed and bathe myself, no libido at all, both my short and long term memory are becoming worse, my self confidence sucks (I have no dating/sex\life which frustrates the hell out of me), not much appetite or energy, sleep all the time, etc. I want to get back in the gym since I’ve become a fat skinny guy (tons of fat on my stomach but no where else) but just making it to work everyday is a struggle enough. Basically, I just don’t seem to care about anything. Anyhow, my current doc asked me to get my T checked and my total levels were normal, at 668, but my sex hormone binding globulin was off the charts at 71. They estimated my free T at around 7.9. So because my balls are working fine, instead of putting me on TRT, my doc has me taking 1mg Arimidex every other day. I’ve been on it for a little over 3 weeks now and haven’t noticed any improvement in any of my symptoms. Do you know of anyone who has tried a similar treatment plan, and if so, what symptoms improved and how long does it take? Also, doc really cant explain why my SHBG is so high and from what I’ve read, Armidex doesn’t directly affect SHBG levels. Ever heard of someone with SHBG levels in the high 60s or low 70s? Is there a way to lower it directly?

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • Reply
      Nate
      February 25, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      At 7.9, your free T is right around where mine was initially and I too, felt like shit. For me, bringing that number up to the top of the range solved many of those symptoms. I’m wondering if your high SHBG could have something to do with the medications you’re on/have taken in the past. I know certain medications for depression can wreak havoc on your hormones. Check out this guy’s videos for a first hand account of serious depression and medications. You might need to see an endocrinologist to get a better understanding of what’s going on and to figure out the root of the problem. And no, I haven’t ever heard of anyone with SHBG that high. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, but our situations seem to be quite different. Best of luck!

    • Reply
      Chris
      September 5, 2016 at 7:57 pm

      I’m in the same boat…..normal total T but high SHBG (70’s to low 80’s) leaving me with a low bioavailable T. Have you tried any treatment yet for your high SHBG?

  • Reply
    dan
    April 7, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Wow this is one of the best personal experience with hormone replacement therapy and low t on the internet. Thank you for the awesome information on your TRT

  • Reply
    Shane
    May 10, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Good work buddy – great post. I’m 28 years old and I’m pretty sure I have suffered with low t since before my twenties. Depression, fatigue, low self esteem and brain fog have been part of my life. I’ve always eaten very healthy foods, kept fit and no injuries. Today I got my results back and looking a bit glim! Free test 5.9 and total 355. Doctors tomorrow and hopefully TRT.

    • Reply
      Nate
      May 10, 2016 at 7:06 pm

      I can totally relate, Shane. That sounds like my exact experience. Your low T isn’t a result of lifestyle factors or a decline with age since you’re only 28 and have been dealing with this since your teens. TRT has been life changing for me and I wish you the best. Good luck tomorrow!

  • Reply
    Noah
    July 16, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    hi Nate, thank you very much for sharing your story with us. It’s actually the first time that I found that i had a problem. After reading your blog, I went to the doctor and did 2 blood tests. my free t level are at a miserable 74 ng/dl. My girlfriend and I want to have children, but don’t know if that’s possible if I am going to enter the TRT. What is your 5 cent opinion on it?

    • Reply
      Nate
      July 18, 2016 at 8:31 am

      I would try to have kids first or talk to your doctor about hCG mono-therapy. hCG is used both for raising testosterone levels and increasing fertility so that could be a win-win option for you.

  • Reply
    Lloyd
    July 21, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Your experiences are almost exactly the same as mine, the main differences being age (I’m 26) and size. I’m 5’9″ and 220 lbs, formerly 306 lbs. Aside from the year where I gained and lost the 86lbs, I’ve been between 190 and 220 for the past 10 years.

    After reading this series, I went and had my testosterone checked – Total is 268! If I get the runaround from the clinic I made an appointment with, I’ll be using the site you linked later in this series.

    I could’ve wasted another ten years putting band-aids on my problems and not making any progress – won’t have to thanks to you.

  • Reply
    Kevin Thomas
    August 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Know what i recently been feeling less then 100% ive been noticing a lot of these symptoms ive felt like ive been at a divide with myself. My thoughts and awareness. Have been off its scary i miss my vigour and energy i need to get my test checked at 37 and type2 i havent been the biggest fan of exercise.

    • Reply
      Nate
      August 19, 2016 at 9:04 am

      It’s important to get checked out but don’t neglect the lifestyle factors. The “natural decline” is often just the cumulative effects of decreased physical activity and poor diet that gets worse as we age.

  • Reply
    Jonathan
    August 21, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Just wondering what happened to my question?

  • Reply
    Rodrigo
    October 15, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Hi Nate, I’m really shocked to see how many similarities I find with in your story with mine. Let me tell you that I just made an appointment too see an Endocrinologist in a few days, this was right before I started reading your blog. It was hard for me to come to the conclusion that maybe my never ending problems had to do with hormones.
    I’m mexican and i’m 25 years old, I haven’t finished reading your whole story but so far I can tell you I feel 90% of the same symthoms as you did; anxiety, moderate depresion, weakness, foggy attention and besides I feel I have some physical traits that make me very suspcious of low T, the only symptoms I don´t see in me are dysfunctional erection and low libdo (similar to your case). Also worth mentioning I’ve always worked out lifting weights, hoping to get bigger but I didn’t see the improvement I wanted and so for the last months I have given up.
    As in your case a medical problem never crossed my mind, I though I just needed to work harder and harder. But just this year I realized it wasn’t about that.
    So my chances come down to: either the examination shows I’m wrong about an imbalance in my hormones and then it means I have some kind of mental disorder that I should check with a psicologist ooor Im right about having low T and there is a something I can do (which I hope so becuase being mentally ill scares me more)
    My question is: what kind of doctor is the best for this cases, I have the appointment with the endocrinologist but I was also thinking if I should see a Urologist.
    I just want to say thank for sharing your experience, it brings clarity and hope to me.

  • Reply
    CJ
    October 19, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Just happened upon this tonight, as I am starting TRT tomorrow. I have been suffering through every single symptom you have had for a few years. I just chalked it up to about to be 40, now 40 has come and I have only gotten worse. I am a single father with custody of two kids. I have had no energy to do anything with them and the guilt finally pushed me to go get checked (and not wanting to lose my job since my performance has dropped off tremendously = kids don’t eat, etc). My total T level was 163, free is 2. For a 40 year old, this is obviously extremely low. I was always healthy, ranked #1 in my state in tennis, tall, slim, no fat. About 2 years ago I started putting on weight, social anxiety and depression got worse. I could not concentrate, make decisions, no desire to leave my house. I wanted to do so many things outside my house in my mind but physically I simply could not do it. Something was not connecting in my body, beyond frustrating. The hot flashes are the worst, almost impossible to sleep, even with 3 fans on me all night. The past 2 years have been a living hell. Hoping this journey leads me to peace like it has you. Glad someone like yourself has spoken up and put his struggles out there for others to know they are not alone.

    Peace

    • Reply
      Nate
      October 24, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Sorry I’m a little late with the response. How is your treatment going? Don’t worry if you aren’t “feeling” anything right away. Your symptoms should gradually get better. One day you may notice that, for example, you were out playing with the kids for two hours when before you were exhausted after 20 minutes. Little things like that start to add up to a much better sense of wellbeing.

  • Reply
    chris
    November 24, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    :(

    I’m on medicaid. My GP says I’m all normal….

    My total test? 1040. My DHT and Aldosterone are *unknown and really need to be tested but I can’t *get them tested* since I’m nowhere near a LabCorp testing site anyway (and they’re expensive). My prolactin went from around 16.8 in early 2013 to wait for it? 2.9 as of early this year.

    I have never done a steroid, or a SARM in my life….. my LH and FSH are in the solid middle of the range, no worries there right? But what if the feedback loop is offset by *my adrenal function*? :(

    My SHBG? makes THEIRS look low…. 139 nmol.

    You read that correctly. My FREE test amounts to 7.8. A total percentage of .718% – that’s right, under 1% is free.

    Oops. But I’m “normal” and “it’s in range, and just the labs and nothing to worry about”.

    Help with a generous male doctor in Louisiana, anyone? :(

    My endocrinologist appt got cancelled due to lack of info or some weird shit, so now I’m stuck *waiting on a referral to get through and it might very well be another year or more I have to endure this :( *

    I don’t want to be stuck wasting away man…. or like that one guy through all those lame “depression” treatments.

    I wouldn’t BE “depressed” as they call it with a good stable income anyway (which I can’t possibly have being this damn tired/weak) and a cute young girlfriend to cuddle up to (yeah…. which would be totally more likely if I were actually fit, rather than just “average” – I don’t mean body builder bulky , I mean just hitting 180lbs and 12% body fat without having to spend hours a week AND a horribly strict diet to do it)

    And don’t even get me started on temperature sensitivity……

  • Reply
    Jason
    December 5, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    This article is amazing. Felt almost every Low T symptom you can have for over 3 years but didn’t recognize what it was. I’m 34 and just had my physical and had them add a testosterone check. (From seeing a low T commercial) Came back at 180…yes 1 freaking 80. Doing research online and found this article. Godsend brother. I’m all in.

  • Reply
    Steve B
    March 9, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I was found the have low T just 3 weeks ago. I received my first injection last week and suddenly have only slept through the night 3 of the last 7 night. I wake up every night between 1:30 and 3am and never go back to sleep. I then crash at lunch. Is this a commen early side effect and will it go away as my body adapts?

    • Reply
      Nate
      March 10, 2017 at 10:23 am

      I didn’t experience that and can’t recall anyone else ever reporting it. Definitely go talk to your doctor about that.

  • Reply
    Jordan
    April 19, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Recently had blood work done….

    Problems are not my T levels they are my E levels weirdly…
    T: 471
    E: 8.1 !!
    PSA: 1.3

    I am 26 and have these issues, how can I “naturally raise my E” with out introducing anything that the body does not make on its own ?

    • Reply
      Nate
      May 6, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      My E2 was the same before I started TRT. Are you an ectomorph (naturally thin) by chance? The best way to raise your estradiol is to raise your testosterone. You could try supplementing with a test booster like d-aspartic acid.

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