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What Other Lifestyle Factors Can Lower My Testosterone?
A few other lifestyle factors affect testosterone levels, though not necessarily in ways that you can—or should—try to work around.
Family Planning and Families: If you’re a woman and take oral birth control, you’ll likely have lower testosterone levels than if you didn’t take the pill. Getting married and having children can also reduce testosterone in women. Even the simple act of nurturing of a crying infant also lowers testosterone in most women.[36,37] Does this mean you should avoid any of these things? Definitely not. But be aware of them. As your kids get older, their testosterone-reducing effects on you should decrease.
In some, but not all studies, it appears that men aren’t immune to this effect, either. Uncommitted single men typically have the highest testosterone, while men in a committed relationship have reduced testosterone. Being married can lower testosterone even more, and being married with young children typically yields the lowest levels of circulating testosterone.
All of this evidence supports the “challenge hypothesis” that arose from bird research and shows that male testosterone levels tend to rise and fall based upon competing with other men for a mate or dominance.
I don’t imagine this is just a male thing, either. Though marriage and having young children seems to reduce testosterone in women when compared to their unmarried or married peers who have older children, the data in women with young children shows that those who have a spouse have higher testosterone levels. The takeaway: competing for parental dominance probably affects a woman’s testosterone levels, too. My wife’s testosterone is probably off the charts!
The bad news for families, but the good news for testosterone levels, is that a man’s testosterone levels increase after divorce.
Spectator Sports: Watching your favorite team win or lose a competition stimulates testosterone, much in the way that you personally winning or losing a competition does.
Anxiety, Illness, and Injury: Being anxiety prone can reduce your output of testosterone. Injuries, serious illness, and surgeries have also been shown to reduce testosterone. This has led to some studies showing beneficial effects on recovery from orthopedic and cosmetic surgeries when testosterone is prescribed and begins prior to surgery.[31,38,39]
Chemical Exposure: Lastly, many synthetic and natural chemicals have been shown to increase the aromatization of testosterone to estrogens, as well as reduce testosterone and androgen receptors. For instance, almost all chemicals used to block UV exposure have been shown to reduce testosterone production. Ingredients commonly used in pesticides, as well as plastics, resins, and other binding compounds used in everything from clothing to dishware, paints, and other common household items can all wreak havoc on your testosterone levels, to widely varying degrees.[
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