Three ways low testosterone affects cognition

By The Vault Team

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Ever walked into a room, but then immediately forgotten why? How about when you’re reading a book and realize you’ve just been staring at the same page? Yep, we’ve all been there at one point or another. 

Whether it’s trying to remember whether you actually took that vitamin pill or feeling like that word you want is just out of reach, fluctuations in our cognitive function are quite normal. In fact, they can be caused by anything from stress and lack of sleep to the body's aging process. But if you’re noticing some changes are stubbornly hanging on, it’s possible that low testosterone could be a contributing factor.

It’s well-known that testosterone powers several key faculties of male health, including tissue and muscle growth, sperm development, and energy. However, testosterone also has a complex but important influence on the brain and its actions. That’s because while testosterone is mainly produced by the body’s sex organs, certain regions of the brain are full of testosterone receptors.

This is important because when testosterone binds to those receptors, blood flow appears to increase to areas that are responsible for several key aspects of cognition. Unsurprisingly, research has found that when the body’s natural testosterone levels decline, specific brain functions can, too. Here are some of the most common ways low testosterone can affect your mind:

Memory Memory helps to power our mental and emotional well-being, as well as our ability to perform everyday tasks. In fact, according to one article by the Harvard Medical Review, memory is “the body's most fragile mental function,” and several studies now connect low testosterone to poor memory function. Adding to this, men who have higher testosterone levels in midlife seem to also have better preserved tissue in some parts of the brain, while those with Alzheimer’s disease (which degenerates the brain) had lower testosterone levels

Brain Fog As its name suggests, brain fog refers to a general decline in memory, a lack of mental clarity, and an inability to focus. Together, all these symptoms can create a “cloudiness” in your mind that shows up in things like word-finding or losing your train of thought. Among the many studies suggesting a connection between testosterone and brain fog, is one that measured a positive correlation between testosterone levels and verbal performance on cognitive tests. An earlier study from the University of Washington even found that as little as six weeks of testosterone therapy improved verbal function in older men. 

Processing Healthy testosterone levels help the body maintain strong mental acuity. When testosterone levels are lower than normal, men may find that new learning is processed less carefully, making it more difficult to absorb new details or store new information. 

Specifically, a recent Dutch study found that testosterone was connected to the speed at which men were able to identify similarities and differences, as well as visual processing in general. 

Want to see for yourself if testosterone replacement therapy can improve your memory, brain fog or processing? Vault is here to provide easier and transparent access to testosterone therapy. Our goal is to connect you to a seamless care experience–from in-person clinics to effective treatments–so that nobody has to live with the consequences of testosterone deficiency.

This article was reviewed by Aaron Grotas, MD