Can Opiates Lower Testosterone Levels?

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Androgens and Testosterone

Androgens are sex hormones. They are made primarily in the male testes, female ovaries, and adrenal glands. Testosterone is the most potent androgen in humans.

We know now that testosterone is an indispensable hormone for sexual health. That is why it is important to understand the full impact that opiates play on testosterone levels. 

Ironically, both men and women produce testosterone, but young adult men have about 7-8 times as much as young adult women. Production of testosterone increases during puberty to help boys develop into sexually mature men, so young men can reproduce.

Testosterone levels suppressed by opiates

As adult men and women age they naturally produce less and less testosterone, but opiate use, and in particular heroin use, has been inextricably linked to a premature collapse in testosterone production. Consequently, male heroin addicts generally have much lower testosterone levels than non-heroin addicts of similar age. This also holds true for most opiates, including methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl and more.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

Symptoms of low testosterone include depression, fatigue, night sweats, reduced sex drive, ED, and diminished sexual arousal and satisfaction. Men may also develop osteoporosis, anemia, and diminished muscle mass. Women may also develop irregular menstrual cycles and diminished sex drive.

Consequences of Low Testosterone

Regardless if it is opiate consumption that lowers your testosterone levels or natural aging, the consequences are often loss of body hair, wrinkling of skin, increased body fat, reduced sexual performance, mood disturbances and low sperm count.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

If you are concerned about your testosterone levels, talk to your physician. We know now that opiates such as heroin and painkillers suppress the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis in men and produce a symptomatic state of opioid-induced androgen deficiency (OPIAD). Testosterone patch therapy may normalize hormone levels and improve a number of quality of life parameters, including sexual function, well-being, and mood. If you are concerned about your testosterone levels, you should talk to your physician.

Natural Testosterone Treatment

There is a special mineral found in abundance in oysters, called zinc, which, has been shown in several scientific studies to increase testosterone production. Salmon has a high Vitamin D content, one of the highest of all foods. Optimal Vitamin D levels are strongly correlated with optimal testosterone levels. What you may not know is that it can help optimize your hormones, including testosterone levels. Broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables) contain indole-3-carbinol, which inhibits conversion of testosterone to estrogen, so natural testosterone levels stay high. Broccoli is high in vitamin C, which lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that often interferes with testosterone production. Cocoa powder is high in magnesium and L-arginine, which support testosterone production. Coconut is a food with a direct link to hormone production. It’s rich in saturated fat, one of the key building blocks of all sex hormones.

Timeline of Heroin Withdrawal