Testosterone and Your Immune System

Most people are aware that their immune system is critical to their day-to-day health. When your immune system is in good working order, your body unconsciously fights off infection easily. Staying energetic and healthy seems so simple.

When your immune system weakens, you become vulnerable to infection, colds, flu, aches, fever, and so on. You may wonder what vitamins or minerals you might be lacking, or what dietary changes you should make. 

While improvements to day-to-day nutrition are often beneficial, you may be unaware, as many people are, of the complex relationship that exists between your recent susceptibility to illness and infection and your hormonal health.

There’s a connection between testosterone and your immune system.

A female researcher prepares a microscope slide in order to study the effects of testosterone on the human immune system.

Low T and Your Immune Response

Scientists studied the cases of 232 male research subjects, all of whom had contracted severe cases of COVID-19 and were hospitalized as a result. When examining the link between testosterone levels and the immune system’s ability to fight the infection, several key observations were made:

  • The lower baseline testosterone levels while hospitalized dipped, the higher the probability for ICU admission
  • ICU patients who died from COVID-19 had significantly lower testosterone levels compared to those who didn’t require ICU-level treatment
  • 65.2% of the 46 asymptotic male patients suffered a significant loss of libido (a common sign of Low T)

The conclusion is that low testosterone could compromise men’s overall health, worsening men’s condition during hospitalization for COVID-19 infection and increasing the likelihood of serious health problems down the road—consequencs more severe than the poor development of muscle mass and poor sexual function. 

(Read more about low testosterone’s effect on COVID 19 outcomes here.)

High Levels of Testosterone Don’t Equate to a Stronger Immune System

The opposite also appears to be true: High testosterone levels appear to hinder immune response as well. 

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted at the Stanford School of Medicine investigated the relationship between testosterone and immunity by tracking the levels of influenza antibodies in individual participants compared to their testosterone levels after each annual influenza vaccination over a five-year period. 

Their first observation was that women produced more antibodies (an observable product of a well-functioning  immune system) in response to the flu vaccine than men, and men whose blood work revealed testosterone levels at the lower end of normal had a similar robust response to women.

In general, women often display a stronger immune reaction to many types of infections, including:

  • Bacterial
  • Fungal
  • Viral
  • Parasitic

Researchers also concluded that men with higher levels of testosterone had a less efficient response to the flu vaccine, an indication that more doesn’t equate to better. In fact, excess testosterone appears to react with a number of genetic factors to mute the immune system.

The data also suggest that while women exhibit powerful immune responses, they are twice as susceptible as men to fatality from the body’s inflammatory overdrive known as sepsis

Obviously, it’s good to have a healthy, substantial immune response to infectious agents, but sometimes women’s bodies are triggered to violently overreact to highly virulent influenza strains, SARS, dengue and many other diseases. This extreme bodily reaction can cause more harm than the infection itself. 

Read about the Stanford research here.

Learn the Benefits of Healthy Testosterone Levels

In total, what we see is that the testosterone and immune system connection isn’t so black and white, which is true for many hormonal issues. Research indicates there’s a seesaw effect, where moving too far in either direction, too low or too high, could result in health problems. 

Low testosterone levels seem to be hard on your immune system, but high levels don’t show positive results either. Put simply, unbalanced testosterone levels have a negative impact on your overall health. 

The upside is that if Low T is at the root of your immune system deficiencies, Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can be used to restore levels and maintain them within a healthy range. 

Research supports TRT as the most effective way to treat low testosterone. Our comprehensive guide contains key facts and answers to the most common questions about the treatment of low testosterone.

Read the Guide


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(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C

(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C started his career in healthcare as a fireman/paramedic in West Texas where he served on the Midland Fire Department from 1998-2004.   He became interested in testosterone treatment after seeing how hormone replacement doctors helped those suffering from low testosterone.   After graduating from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Physician Assistant Program, he moved to DFW where he currently lives with his wife and three children.

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