Testosterone is a natural hormone that is produced by the human body, and it is produced in men by the testicles. Testosterone is a factor in the sexual development of a man and also how he looks. It helps to build muscle and bone mass, stimulate a man’s sex drive, and even sperm production. Testosterone production reaches its apex in the early 20s but starts to decline by about 1% per year in the 30s. As a man ages, the amount of testosterone that is produced by his body generally decreases. According to a study by the American Urological Association (AUA), it was found out that every 2 out of 10 men aged 60 and above have low testosterone. And that number increases to every 3 out of 10 men aged 70 and above.
A man that has low testosterone levels is diagnosed with Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome or Low Testosterone (Low-T). The AUA identifies low testosterone when testosterone levels go below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). The average testosterone level ranges from 300 to 1000 ng/dL. You can take a blood test known as a serum testosterone test to know your level of circulating testosterone.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Men mostly experience a variety of symptoms if testosterone levels drop drastically, and these signs are not easy to spot except you know what to look for. Below are the significant signs of Low T in men.
Decreased Sex Drive
Testosterone is crucial when it comes to sex drive. It is well-know that a man’s sex drive tends to reduce as he ages, but having low testosterone levels can also reduce sex drive drastically. If the cause of decreased sex drive is low testosterone levels, it will be much more evident than when it occurs due to aging. Because Low T can occur at any age, you should speak to your doctor if you notice a change in your desire for sex.
Struggling with erection
Though testosterone increases a man’s sex drive, it also ensures that a man gets and maintains an erection. Testosterone does not single-handedly cause an erection, though it arouses receptors in the brain to secrete nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps to set off a chain of chemical reactions required to cause an erection. When the testosterone levels are low, it will prove difficult for a man to get an erection right before sex or for him to get impulsive erections. Testosterone is one of the various factors that ensure proper erections.
Low semen volume
Semen is the milky fluid that helps in the motility of sperm, and testosterone plays a vital part in the production of semen. Even if there are no significant changes to your sex drive, but there is a noticeable decrease in semen production levels, then Low T might be the cause. Men that have low testosterone levels will have a smaller volume of semen when ejaculating.
It is without a doubt that testosterone helps with different body functions, and this also includes the production of hair. It is a natural thing for men that are aging to go bald, which is why it is difficult to diagnose Low T based on hair loss alone. Although low testosterone has been found to cause hair loss in individuals of any age.
These days most people feel exhausted, but having a general sense of fatigue could mean that you have low testosterone. Men with low testosterone levels have reported that they felt severe levels of fatigue and extremely depleted energy levels. If you are getting adequate sleep and find out that you still feel too tired, you should visit your doctor to test your testosterone levels.
A lot of people find it challenging to get the required amount of sleep per night, irrespective of whether they have normal testosterone levels. So if you have Low T, you might find it very hard to get a good night’s rest. If you live a healthy life and you are still having problems falling asleep, then you should meet your doctor to discuss taking a testosterone test. Most men that have Low T also suffer from sleep apnea.
Loss of muscle mass
Testosterone is essential when it comes to bodybuilding, so men that have low testosterone levels will notice a significant loss in muscle mass. If you suffer from Low T for a long time, then it will have a considerable effect on your muscle mass. Although testosterone affects muscle mass, it does not affect strength or function.
Increase in body fat
When men suffering from low testosterone take up a diet plan that is supposed to help them regain muscle mass, it won’t build muscle mass; instead, it will be stored as fat. And sometimes, they tend to develop gynecomastia (enlargement of breast tissue). This is mostly caused because of the imbalance between the estrogen and testosterone in men.
A decrease in bone mass
The thinning of bone mass, which is known as Osteoporosis, is a condition that is mostly found in women. Although men with low testosterone levels have been found to suffer a decrease in bone mass. Testosterone aids in the production and strengthening of bones. So, men that have low testosterone have lesser bone volume, which will also make them more prone to bone fractures.
Testosterone is responsible for a lot of physical processes in the body; it also helps to regulate mood and mental capacity. This is why men that have low testosterone experience frequent changes in mood. Studies have also shown that men with low testosterone are more susceptible to experience irritability, depression, or lack of focus. So if you are noticing a lot of mood swings, it would be best if you visited your doctor for a testosterone test.
Cognitive functions (especially memory) and testosterone levels experience a decline as a person ages. As a result of that, doctors have found out that low testosterone levels could be a factor to affected memory. Some studies have proven that testosterone supplements aid in improving memory in men that have low testosterone levels.
Smaller testicle size
Low testosterone levels can be a factor in having testicles that are smaller than the average size. Since the body needs adequate testosterone to develop the testicles and penis, a man that has low testosterone will have smaller testicles or penis when compared to a man that has normal testosterone levels. Although low testosterone levels is not the only factor as there are several other causes of smaller testicle size. So, this is not a sure symptom that a man has low testosterone.
Low blood count
According to some research, doctors have now linked Low T with a heightened risk for anemia. The doctors administered testosterone gel to men who suffered from Low T and anemia, and noticed improvements in their blood counts. Some of the symptoms of anemia include dizziness, difficulty sleeping, leg cramps, and an abnormally fast heart rate.
Treatment for Low Testosterone
The most common treatment for low testosterone is Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). This is a treatment that is prescribed by a doctor only if you show several symptoms of low testosterone and also if a blood test result reveals a deficiency. Testosterone replacement therapy can be administered in various ways which include;
This form of TRT is worn on the arm or upper body. It is to be applied once per day and has proven to be effective in raising testosterone levels.
This type of testosterone replacement therapy comes in packets of clear testosterone gel. It is also applied once a day; when this is done, the testosterone is absorbed directly by the skin. The gels can also come in a pump that is capable of delivering the amount of testosterone that is prescribed by your doctor.
This form of TRT is a tablet that is attached to the upper gums above the incisor. It is to be applied twice a day, and it steadily and continuously releases testosterone into the blood via the oral tissues.
Implants and injections
It is possible to inject testosterone directly into the muscles or implant it as pellets in the soft tissues. By doing this, the testosterone is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream by the body.
Most people start to get relief from low testosterone symptoms as soon as 4 to 6 weeks after receiving treatment.
Men experience a steady decrease in testosterone levels as time passes, unlike women who experience a rapid drop in hormone levels at menopause. As a man gets older, he is more likely to experience lower than normal testosterone levels. Men who have testosterone levels that is below 300 ng/dL will start to experience symptoms of Low T.
If you start to notice any of these signs, it is highly recommended that you book an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor would test you for abnormal testosterone levels and help you treat it to ease the symptoms.