The Complete Guide to Low Testosterone
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone primarily produced by the testicles in men. It is also produced by the ovaries in women, although to a lesser degree. Production of testosterone generally begins during puberty along with other physical
developmental signs such as facial hair growth, height and voice changes.
Testosterone’s primary role in the body is to promote sperm production and fuel a healthy sex drive. It also contributes to the development of muscle mass, bone density, fat storage and the production of red blood cells.
Generally, testosterone levels wane in your thirties and, by sixty years old, approximately one in five men will experience low testosterone.
What is low testosterone?
You may be diagnosed with low T when levels of testosterone decrease and register below 300 nanograms per decilitre. According to the FDA, the normal
range is between 300 to 1000 nanograms per decilitre. Testing for low testosterone involves a simple blood test to identify T levels.
Low testosterone readings could also be due to problems with your hypothalamus or pituitary gland. Therefore, it’s important to check with your doctor to make sure nothing serious is affecting your T levels.
What are the symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Decline in sex drive
Testosterone levels can significantly affect a man’s sex drive, this is also known as libido. Although low sex drive may naturally occur with age, a radical reduction in sex cravings could be a key indicator of Low T.
Testosterone not only stimulates sex drive, but it also helps with erectile function. Low testosterone will limit a man’s ability to readily achieve an erection prior to sexual activity. The reason for this symptom may involve the molecule nitric oxide, which is known to stimulate testosterone production and promote blood flow for an erection.
Other causes for erectile dysfunction (impotency) may include:
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid issues
- High cholesterol
- Substance abuse
- Stress and anxiety
Muscle mass reduction
Testosterone contributes to muscle growth and lean body mass. In most men, muscle mass starts to decline over the age of thirty. However, if a noticeable
decline in muscle mass occurs, low testosterone may be the cause.
Low sperm content
Male fertility is directly affected by the potency and volume of sperm produced in the testes. Studies show that men with low T may have reduced semen volume during ejaculation. Low semen production can affect the mobility of sperm and may impact fertility and reproduction.
Whilst hair loss or balding is often a hereditary factor in men, testosterone does have a role in hair production. Men experiencing facial or body hair loss may be
due to decreased testosterone levels in their bodies.
Disproportional body fat
Low testosterone levels can sometimes result in ‘man boobs’, or engorged breast tissue (gynecomastia). This condition may be due to a hormonal imbalance of oestrogen and testosterone. There are individual treatments available, such as clomiphene and tamoxifen, which can assist in balancing hormone levels.
It is widely known that testosterone impacts both physical and mental body functions. Still, it may be difficult to determine what these mood changes may
be related to. For example, mood changes can sometimes be linked to concerns about erectile issues or anxiety from erectile dysfunction.
Fatigue from sleep disruption
Men with low testosterone may experience fatigue and a decrease in energy. Doctors have also discovered a correlation with low testosterone and sleep apnea, which is also associated with being overweight.
Decrease in bone mass
Decreased bone mass naturally occurs with age. However, with testosterone’s role in bone mass, low testosterone levels may speed up this process. Although
not readily detected in men with low T, if left untreated, some men may experience a greater susceptibility to injury or fractures..
Reduced testicle size
Men with low T may also notice a reduction in testicle size and softening of the scrotum. This is also called testicular atrophy and often occurs in older men.
When is the best time to see your doctor?
Whilst low testosterone will not present with any noticeable symptoms, it is often diagnosed by routine doctor visits. It is important to seek medical assistance if you experience any of the above symptoms.
How to treat low testosterone
As discussed, low testosterone becomes more prevalent with age. Fortunately, there are treatments available. There are many drugs on the market that can be used for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). These drugs aim to balance testosterone levels at a normal level. Results are generally experienced in 4-6 weeks. These medications come in varying doses and different forms such as:
What can you do to help prevent low testosterone?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may be beneficial for any form of medical complaints, including low testosterone levels. The following are just a few of the lifestyle changes that may help improve your overall well-being:
- Healthy diet, nutrient rich – such as eggs, milk, tuna, whole cereal, shellfish, oysters, green vegetables
- Regular exercise – 30 minutes 5 times a week
- Weight loss – your new healthy diet and exercise should naturally achieve this
- Limit alcohol intake – 4 units a week
- Stop smoking – we all know about this
- Adequate sleep – minimum 7 hours per night
- Meditation – learn to relax
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The wash up
Firstly, if you have any of the symptoms listed, it is important to seek medical advice. Information contained in this article is meant to help educate you on
testosterone levels and how they can affect you. While there are drugs available to help support normal testosterone levels, other therapy may be needed,
especially if you have other serious conditions. If you suffer from erectile dysfunction from low testosterone, drugs like Viagra or Cialis are safe and effective. Learn more about these drugs here.