It’s certainly getting a lot more interesting in the ongoing saga of trying to figure out this human body I was born with. And while I knew there were certain parts of it that were messed up for various reasons, it seems I didn’t know just how out of whack it actually was for probably my entire life. You’ll recall a few weeks back I shared my thyroid panel results after 8 years of low-carbing and the numbers didn’t really scream that there was a big issue there. So the physician I’ve been working with has done an amazing job trying to zero in on exactly what is happening with me and it looks like he may have finally stumbled upon the root cause of my infertility and recent fat loss struggles.
This outstanding doctor (who will remain anonymous for now since this is an ongoing issue that hasn’t yet been resolved) decided to run an “Expanded Male Hormone Panel” saliva test identifying the various levels of the sex hormones in the Androgen Pathway. While I’ve had a couple of blood tests conducted on these things over the past few years when Christine and I went through our failed IVF cycle in 2008 and then again for the embryo adoption process that resulted in losing our pregnancy with twin babies in 2011, I’ve never done a saliva test measuring these same hormone levels. Both tests are critical in identifying what exactly is happening with the hormones going in and coming out.
As I understand it, the blood test determines the uptake of the various hormone levels and the saliva test shows the other end of the hormones. Both are vitally important to know if these hormones are playing the role they are supposed to in the body. After filling up a vile full of spit that took about a half hour to fill and sending it off to a Tukwila, WA-based lab called Diagnos-Techs, Inc. a couple of weeks ago, the results are in…and there’s DEFINITELY something screwy going on here.
As you can see, my numbers are a bit “off” to say the least. And it centers around testosterone levels clocking in at an abysmal 47 in this saliva test. Combine that with the 572 ng/dL testosterone results I got in my September blood test (with a range of 348-1197), there’s something wrong with the way my body is utilizing and processing testosterone. When I asked my doctor whether there’s anything I’ve done to cause this, he revealed that it’s very likely I’ve had this issue my entire life and simply inherited it from the genes my parents passed on to me. Gee thanks Mom and Dad!
Of course, when one hormone like testosterone is off kilter, that throws other ones out of balance too. The luteinizing hormone (LH) measured in this saliva test was 39 uIU/mL (normal range is 10-25) which is much higher than the LH blood test that clocked in at 7.7 mIU/mL (normal range 1.7-8.6). Of course, it’s not all bad either. DHT, estradiol, and estrone were all outstanding according to the physician I’m working with. But those good numbers are probably all a result of my low testosterone levels which is not-so-good. It’s tricky trying to figure out how to adequately improve testosterone without messing up these others. Did I mention these hormones are all wickedly interrelated?
You might be asking “Why is raising testosterone levels so important?” That’s an excellent question and it’s one my fellow health pioneer and Paleo blogger/podcaster extraordinaire Robb Wolf addressed in an epic blog post he wrote last month entitled “Paleo and Testosterone.” Take time to read and absorb all the information there when you have a chance. It’s a lot more technical (translated: “nerdy”) than what I’m sharing here today, but incredibly invaluable. In fact, it was that post that got me to seriously start taking a look at whether this was MY problem. It turns out this could be EXACTLY what I’ve been dealing with regarding low sperm count and motility and my struggles to lose body fat around the middle of my body in recent years when my legs and upper body look completely normal. I’m trying not to get too excited about this just yet, but the sense of at least knowing what is going on and attempting to do something about it has me more ecstatic than I’ve been since losing 180 pounds on low-carb in 2004.
What is my next step in this journey? My doctor is putting me on a customized testosterone cream that I will be applying daily to my inner thigh in an effort to increase testosterone production in my body. This will have an impact on the other aforementioned hormones, so the dose will be low until we know how it is impacting me. To keep DHT levels in check, he recommended I start taking saw palmetto extract along with the testosterone cream. I cannot wait to see the positive changes this treatment is expected to produce in just a matter of weeks if it does what we think it will.
What is supposed to happen if my testosterone increases as expected until the best-case-scenario circumstances? Increased libido, lower body fat, greater muscle growth, better energy levels, and a whole host of other “manly” reactions. Of course, he did warn that if testosterone levels go up too much, it could manifest itself in changes in my mood that would make me more irritable and grouchy. When I told my wife Christine this, she said, “Yeah, so what else is new?” Ahhhh, gotta love my honey keepin’ it real!
Since I’ve been engaging in a solidly healthy low-carb Paleo plan for a while now along with regular resistance training with a personal trainer at my local gym in 2011, I cannot help but think that this testosterone cream is going to be a critical piece of the puzzle that will get me leaner and stronger than I am currently. As hard as I’ve been working at the gym in 2011, I should be a whole lot more muscular than I am and shedding body fat instead of storing it. Don’t get me wrong, I am stronger with more upper-body muscle growth in my arms, shoulders and chest…but how much more muscle will I be able to have in 2012 if this new testosterone protocol works like we think it will?
The next step is getting the testosterone cream ordered and started within the next couple of weeks. I’m turning 40 on December 27, 2011, so this should be an interesting turn of events that could play a huge role in the future of my body and health. Again, I’m trying to temper my excitement about this, but I nearly cried when I heard that this might be the missing link for me. Of course, if I get my testosterone levels raised, that crying crap will be history. HA! Just kidding.
As always, I’ll keep you informed about what is happening with the testosterone cream treatment in the coming months and whether it is working or not. It’s possible that I will need to use this testosterone cream for the rest of my life to get my levels where they need to be. We’ll know more about that soon. I assume we’ll see some incredible benefits from this that will manifest itself rather quickly. We shall see. I welcome your feedback and experience on this issue in the comments section below.
12-12-11 UPDATE: This was fortuitous timing in light of this blog post about my low testosterone: “Low Testosterone May Affect Insulin Sensitivity” details research showing a distinct connection between men with low testosterone and metabolic issues including decreased insulin sensitivity, Type 2 diabetes, lack of muscle mass growth, and an increase in fat mass. Therapies designed to increase testosterone (like the cream I will soon be taking) will likely reverse most of these issues as “an important avenue” towards healing the damage that has been done. Now I’m REALLY starting to get excited.