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How Low Testosterone May Affect Arthritis Risk (And What To Do About It)

Hannah Frye
Author:
November 30, 2023
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
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Image by Lyuba Burakova / Stocksy
November 30, 2023
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An estimated 25% of adults in the U.S. struggle with arthritis, making it a rampant (and often under-discussed) issue. The most common cause of arthritis is general wear and tear—however, researchers have found another unexpected link that may be helpful for those struggling. Here's what to know:

How testosterone and arthritis seem to be related

The new cross-sectional study published in Scientific Reports found a significant association between serum testosterone and arthritis in both men and women. More specifically, patients with arthritis had significantly lower testosterone levels than those without arthritis1—a finding consistent across several other studies as well. 

For this study, researchers looked at 2013 to 2016 data from an ongoing U.S. database called The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey2, or NHANES for short. This study included a total of 10,439 people, mainly aged 20 years and older, 48% of whom were men. 

The association between arthritis and low testosterone held up for both men and women. This makes the case that testosterone level testing may be helpful for anyone struggling to understand the root of their arthritis, no matter their gender. 

This study found other correlations, too, such as smoking, waist circumference, BMI, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease—so testosterone is certainly not the only thing to consider. However, it's an important one, especially for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women who tend to have low testosterone levels3 due to declining adrenal function. 

How to support testosterone naturally

Knowing this association exists may inspire those who are struggling with arthritis to get a hormone test if possible. From there, your health care provider can give you personalized advice and treatment for both hormonal health and joint comfort. 

Those without arthritis should also consider how to keep their testosterone at healthy levels—as doing so can also help with blood sugar balance4, libido, cognitive function5, and bone health6

Though testosterone is best known as a male sex hormone, this research reminds us that it's important for women's health, too.

"To naturally promote healthy testosterone levels, two of the most effective strategies are high-quality sleep and resistance training," board-certified internal medicine physician and chief medical officer at Modern Age Anant Vinjamoori, M.D., previously told mindbodygreen.

You may also look to DHEA supplements. "The body synthesizes DHEA before converting it to testosterone, making it a reasonable choice for supplementation," Vinjamoori says. However, it's best to consult your health care provider before starting this supplement to ensure it's a necessary part of your routine. 

And remember—this finding is solely an association, not a statement of cause. So, more research is needed to determine if low testosterone causes arthritis or if the correlation is related in another way. 

The takeaway

A new analysis study found that patients with arthritis had significantly lower testosterone levels than those without arthritis. This could be a sign that testosterone may play a role in arthritis onset or progression, but more research is needed to be sure. In the meantime, men and women can support their testosterone levels through lifestyle changes and consult a physician if they're interested in hormone testing.

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