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While it might not seem like it at a glance several studies have shown that testosterone levels in men these days are not as they once were. They are significantly lower than they were in the decades leading up to now.

Don’t get me wrong, most men do have healthy levels but they are still reduced. One study from 2006 actually outlined this decline perfectly. It was titled “A Population-Level Decline in Serum Testosterone Levels in American Men” and reveals some shocking numbers. The goal of this study was to establish the magnitude of population-level changes in serum T (testosterone) concentrations. This also takes into consideration several other factors.

This study had about over 1500 participants and several observations were taken on each. While that might not seem like a big number, it is big enough for them to have a good idea of what we are facing. With three data collection waves, they were able to obtain a lot of information on these men.

The results and conclusion of this study are as follows:

Results – We observe a substantial age-independent decline in T that does not appear to be attributable to observed changes in explanatory factors, including health and lifestyle characteristics such as smoking and obesity. The estimated population-level declines are greater in magnitude than the cross-sectional declines in T typically associated with age.

Conclusion – These results indicate that recent years have seen a substantial, and as yet unrecognized, age-independent population-level decrease in T in American men, potentially attributable to birth cohort differences or to health or environmental effects not captured in observed data.

This was not the only study carried out on the topic, a Danish study was done in the same manner as well. This coming from the same year and was able to conclude in theirs that there was, in fact, an age-independent change in SHBG and testosterone. They suggested that it could be explained by an initial change in SHBG levels which caused the adjustment in testosterone levels. However, more research will, of course, need to be done on the topic

Forbes wrote as follows weighing in on this topic:

The challenges to men’s health don’t end there. Rates of certain reproductive disorders (like testicular cancer) have risen over time, while multiple European studies have found that sperm counts are sinking. These trends coincide with a decline in musculoskeletal strength among young men: In a 2016 study, the average 20- to 34-year-old man could apply 98 pounds of force with a right-handed grip, down from 117 pounds by a man of the same age in 1985. Though grip strength isn’t necessarily a proxy for overall fitness, it’s a strong predictor of future mortality.

What’s behind all the downward trends? The answer is complicated. The decline in testosterone levels is almost certainly linked to higher rates of obesity (which suppresses testosterone) and may be linked to lower rates of smoking in men (since nicotine is a potent aromatase inhibitor). In the 2007 study, however, the age-matched declines persisted after controlling for these variables. Many observers put more weight on increased exposure to environmental toxins, such as pesticides, parabens, and chemicals common in household products like phthalates and bisphenol A.

Also playing a role are long-term shifts in the ways we work and live. Young men are far less likely to hold jobs in manual labor, so they don’t have to be as physically strong as previous generations. Meanwhile, certain forms of close relationships—such as marriage, fatherhood, and increased time spent with children—are causally linked to lower testosterone levels. Yet here again the evidence is muddled: On the one hand, Gen-X and Millennial men are marrying later and having fewer kids. On the other hand, young men today are more likely to live with other people—which may promote prosocial hormones like oxytocin that are natural antagonists to testosterone. And those who are fathers are spending more time with their children.

It really does seem that this decline is quite present but, what does it mean and why is it happening? Testosterone levels have continued to drop throughout the years and no clear outcome has been found just yet. While there are several likely reasons behind it nothing is set in stone just yet. To learn more about this please check out the video below