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Natural Awakenings NYC & Long Island

Let’s Talk About ‘Low T’

By David Pollack, D.C.

The first time I heard testosterone deficiency referred this way was from a patient a few years back. “My doctor said I have low T,” he said. “I'm taking this cream and it’s not working right.”

What a nondescript way to describe an uncomfortable subject. In my usual slightly cynical Socratic way, I asked, “So you have a deficiency in synthetic soy-based pharmaceuticals?”

He looked at me, puzzled.

“Is your body supposed to make testosterone normally?” I asked.

“I would guess so,” he said, “but I’m getting older. I hear a lot of guys are getting this issue.”

“Have you ever met or heard of guys in their 70s still running around after girls?”

“Of course,” he said.

“So why do you think that is?” I asked. 

“Because their body is working better,” opined my new patient.

“Exactly” was my response. 

Testosterone is a steroid hormone, part of a large system of interrelated hormones. These several dozen different hormones are primarily produced by the adrenal glands, which are located on top of the kidneys. They make about 20 percent of the total finished testosterone in the body and 100 percent of all precursors that will become testosterone in the gonadal tissues. 

It’s important to understand what these other steroid hormones are that can be converted to and from testosterone. The most famous is cortisol, the hormone triggered by stress, which is also associated with our weight, blood sugar and immunity, among other functions. Cortisol can be converted to testosterone—but more importantly, it can be converted from testosterone. 

The Many Faces of ‘T’

What does that mean to us? It means in situations of prolonged stress, sugar imbalance or sickness, our testosterone (or estrogen, in women) will be converted to cortisol to try to deal with the increased demand. Even testosterone creams and other treatments can be converted this way. 

There are other hormones in this system that can steal testosterone the same way. These are the primary hormones controlling everything, including blood pressure, blood sugar, mood, sleep, electrolytes, healing, cholesterol levels, digestion, growth and much more. What I’m suggesting is that when there are problems in any of these areas, the body will sacrifice what it considers to be a less-critical hormone—testosterone—in exchange for much more critical compounds to control these important functions. 

You’d think administering testosterone would help create these other hormones, but the reverse conversion can occur, although it’s much more difficult. Often testosterone will convert and create estrogens or DHT in many men, causing weight gain or hair loss and anger, respectively. The opposite can happen in women taking estrogens, with the creation of too much testosterone, leading to hair growth in the wrong places. 

So how can we deal with these issues? Many of my patients find that when they conquer their overall health issues, their hormones tend to come into balance, with increased libido and virility as the result. Often this is concurrent with huge increases in energy, an even temper, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and many other improvements. 

That’s why when a patient comes to me asking about “low T,” I ask, “Do you want to just deal with this one symptom, or really solve the cause of what’s going on?”

Dr. David L Pollack is founder of Pollack Wellness Institute, in Commack, NY. For more information, contact him at 631-462-0801 or [email protected], or visit

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