Testosterone is a hormone produced in men’s testicles, but it plays a far more diverse set of roles in the body than just facilitating sexual reproduction. Testosterone levels affect everything from men’s physical appearance to how they build bone and muscle. Levels of this essential hormone change constantly, with most men experiencing drops in testosterone production after the age of 30.
While some decrease in testosterone production is considered a natural part of aging, levels that become too low can cause unwanted side effects. Doctors can use serum testosterone tests to determine the exact level of this hormone circulating in a man’s body, but only if the patient knows when it’s time to make an appointment. Read on to find out about some of the most common symptoms of low testosterone, also referred to simply as “low T,” in men to see if it’s time to schedule an appointment.
Low Sex Drive
Most men experience a decline in libido accompanying age. However, men who have low T report more dramatic drops in their sex drive as levels of this key hormone decrease. Any man concerned about a pronounced lack of sexual desire related to low T can visit www.RiseMensHealth.com to learn how to take action.
Given that testosterone helps to regulate libido and plays an essential role in sexual reproduction, it should come as no surprise that it also helps men achieve and maintain erections. This hormone doesn’t act directly on men’s reproductive organs, though. It stimulates receptors in men’s brains that produce nitric oxide, which goes on to trigger the chemical reactions required to cause an erection to occur.
Men with low T aren’t just more likely to experience difficulty with achieving erections. They may also experience spontaneous erections at inappropriate times, such as during sleep. Low testosterone is just one factor that can contribute to erectile dysfunction. However, more than half of men who experience erectile dysfunction experience improvements with testosterone treatment.
As noted in the introduction to this article, testosterone doesn’t just regulate libido and erectile function. It also influences physical factors. Men with low T are more likely to experience hair loss on their heads, faces, and bodies than men with normal testosterone levels. Keep in mind, however, that there is also a genetic component to balding.
Men with low testosterone levels often report decreases in energy levels, which can be severe. Extreme fatigue leads them to feel tired all the time, even when they are getting enough sleep. It also makes it more difficult to find the motivation to exercise and stay in shape, which can cause other health complications.
Increased Body Fat
It’s common for men to experience increases in body fat, even when they stick to vigorous exercise routines. More specifically, men with low T are more likely to develop gynecomastia, a condition that enlarges the breast tissues. Most researchers believe gynecomastia is related to the imbalance of testosterone and estrogen levels. All men produce some estrogen, just like all women produce some testosterone. It’s only when low T causes an imbalance that gynecomastia can become a problem.
Loss of Muscle
Since testosterone plays a role in helping men build muscle, those who struggle with low T may notice decreasing muscle mass. The good news here is that there’s evidence testosterone affects muscle mass development, but may not affect muscle strength or function. Men may not notice any corresponding decrease in strength unless they have made pronounced changes to their daily activity levels.
Decreased Bone Mass
Lots of people assume that osteoporosis only affects women. In fact, men with low T are also prone to decreased bone mass. Having lower bone mass makes anyone with osteoporosis more prone to fractures, but raising testosterone levels with hormone therapy can help to prevent this problem.
Changes in Mood and Mental Function
Testosterone influences multiple physical processes, not just in the body, but also in the mind. Men with low T are at increased risk of experiencing depression and increased irritability. They may also be at greater risk of experiencing cognitive impairment beyond what is typically associated with aging.
Testosterone supplementation can help with low T-related memory loss and mental capacity. It can improve focus, boost mood, and reduce the chances that men struggling with this condition will experience cognitive impairment as a direct result of lower testosterone levels as they age.
Increased Risk of Anemia
Men with low T can have lower blood counts than those with normal testosterone levels. Recent research shows that administering testosterone therapy can increase blood counts in men with low T struggling with symptoms of anemia. Men struggling with anemia as a result of low T may experience symptoms like dizziness, leg cramps, sleep disruptions, concentration issues, and rapid heart rates. See a doctor if these symptoms occur.
The male body uses testosterone to develop penile tissue and testicles. Men with chronic low T may have disproportionately smaller testicles and penises, and may also experience lower semen volume. The combined effect of lower semen volume and smaller testicles can make it more difficult for men with low T to conceive. There are also other underlying health conditions that can cause smaller-than-average testicles and reduced sperm motility, but it’s worth speaking with a specialist to determine if hormone therapy could help.
Men with low testosterone can usually benefit from hormone treatment. Testosterone levels tend to decrease gradually over the course of a man’s life, but symptoms of low T usually occur only when they fall below 300 ng/dL. When that happens, it’s time to speak with a doctor. Testosterone therapy and other low T treatments have high success rates at reducing symptoms and improving quality of life with minimal risks. Be sure to speak candidly with your doctor to understand how long does it take to feel the effects of testosterone injections and any other pertinent information regarding the treatments. Ask about how it works, what to expect, and anything else you want to know. Remember that treatment can be quite effective, so don’t be ashamed to discuss it at length with your doctor.
While a general practitioner may be able to diagnose low T, it’s best to seek treatment at a specialized clinic. There’s a knowledge gap among healthcare providers when it comes to treating and managing low T. A specialist will be able to come up with a treatment approach tailored to the patient’s unique needs.