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9 Warning Signs of Low Testosterone

Low Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone that is produced by the human body. It is mainly produced in the testicles in men. It stimulates sperm production and a man’s sex drive and also helps build muscle and bone mass.

Testosterone production typically decreases as men age. Men can experience a range of symptoms if it decreases more than it should. Low T is diagnosed when levels fall below a normal range (300- 1000 ng/dL, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration). A blood test (called serum testosterone level) is used to determine your level of circulating testosterone.   

A range of symptoms can occur if testosterone production drastically drops. Signs of low T (also called hypogonadism) are often subtle and can be mistaken for a natural part of aging.

Low Sex Drive

Testosterone plays a key role in libido (sex drive) in both men and women. Men may experience some decline in sex drive as they age. However, someone with low T will likely experience a more drastic drop in his desire to have sex. Low T can also decrease the sex drive in women, along with other factors, such as other hormonal and mood changes. 

Difficulty Achieving Erection

Testosterone stimulates a man’s sex drive — and it also aids in achieving an erection. Testosterone alone doesn’t cause an erection, but it stimulates receptors in the brain to produce nitric oxide — a molecule that helps trigger an erection. When testosterone levels are too low, a man may have difficulty achieving an erection prior to sex or experience spontaneous erections (for example, during sleep). Other health problems can influence erectile function, so it is important to determine whether low T is causing this symptom.

Low Semen Volume

Testosterone plays a role in the production of semen, which is the milky fluid that aids in the motility of sperm. It’s pretty simple: The more testosterone a man has, the more semen he produces. Men with low T will notice a decrease in the volume of their semen during ejaculation.

Hair Loss

Testosterone plays a role in several body functions, including hair production. Balding is a natural part of aging for many men. However, men with low T may experience a loss of body and facial hair.

Fatigue & Lack of Energy

Men with low T have reported extreme fatigue and a noticeable decrease in energy levels. You might be experiencing symptoms of low T if you are tired all of the time, despite getting plenty of sleep, or if you are finding it harder to get motivated to hit the gym or exercise.

Loss of Muscle Mass

Because testosterone plays a role in the building and strengthening of muscle, men with low T might notice a decrease in both muscle mass and strength, according to the Mayo Clinic. Those who try to reverse the muscle loss through weight training might find it difficult to build or rebuild muscle.

Increase In Body Fat

Men with low T may also experience increases in body fat. In particular, they sometimes develop “gynecomastia”, a condition in which they develop enlarged breasts. Although the reasons behind this are not entirely clear, research suggests that testosterone influences the way your body stores fat. 

Decrease In Bone Mass

The thinning of bone mass (osteoporosis) is often thought of as a condition that women experience. However, men with low T can also experience bone loss because testosterone aids in the production and strengthening of bone. Men with low T — especially older men who have had low T for years — are more susceptible to bone fractures.

Mood Changes

Women often experience changes in mood during menopause, when their levels of estrogen drop. Men with low T can experience similar symptoms. Testosterone influences many physical processes in the body. It can also influence mood and mental capacity. Research suggests that men with low T are more likely to experience depression, irritability, or a lack of focus.

Outlook and Resources

Testosterone levels decrease naturally over time, so you may experience some degree of change in these symptoms as you age. Your doctor can conduct a blood test and recommend treatment if needed, and discuss any benefits and risks. Here are some resources for you to check out if you think you may be experiencing low T:

Read Video Transcript »

From Teeth to Testes: Three Minutes to Maintain Your Manliness (Video Transcript)

Maybe you just turned 40, and your body is starting to feel a little different than it used to. Or maybe you’ve had a recent health scare and you’re realizing that you’re not so young anymore. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself asking, “What do I need to know to live a long and healthy life,” we’ve got you covered.

There are two key things to remember:

1. good habits and

2. testosterone

Testosterone, the love hormone…let’s talk about that one first.

If you wonder if low testosterone levels (also known as low-T) will threaten your manliness, the answer is yes and no.

With low-T, you could lose all enthusiasm for life; muscles could start to wither away as body fat increases; and strength and endurance could dwindle to a fraction of what they were before. BUT, these symptoms don’t occur in everyone with low-T.

When your testosterone is low, you should be evaluated for a much more serious problem called hypogonadism. In hypogonadism, a man may have low-T and erectile dysfunction (or ED). Hypogonadism could be caused by a problem with the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, or an infection like mumps.

The symptoms of low-T or hypogonadism could really change a man’s life. As the brain slows down, you could experience changes in your thinking. You may become irritable and depressed, with little desire for sex. 

Some studies suggest that normal levels of testosterone help men stay healthier. A recent study from the Journal of Endocrinology suggests that testosterone may protect your arteries and ward off diseases like atherosclerosis. We’ll probably find out whether testosterone is a marker of good health in the next decade. However, right now we don’t know if more is better.

Now on to the second part: your habits. If you’ve adopted more bad than good health habits over the years, you could end up in the graveyard before your time. But good habits could help you make it to your 50th high school reunion still looking and feeling good

We’ll break it down for you: five good habits are what you need, and you can think of them in terms of how your day starts. 

1.)   Get good sleep. Your mind is sharper when you get a good night’s sleep. You can concentrate better during the day, and aren’t as prone to accidents.

2.)   Brush your teeth. It should be the first thing you do when you wake up. Research is finding that your heart disease risk increases from infection, especially periodontal disease caused by the bacteria in your mouth that multiply all night long. 
Bacteria can cause chronic inflammation that damages blood vessels in the body—including the penis. One study found that men with periodontal disease had erectile problems three times more than those who didn’t—and these were men in their 30s!

3.)   Drink plenty of water and avoid beverages with high fructose corn syrup. Studies in the journal Diabetes and Metabolism found that high fructose corn syrup may be related to a higher incidence of gout, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, belly fat, and diabetes. 

4.)   Work out. Pump iron and do cardio at 75 percent output: not too much and not too little. Exercise raises testosterone levels and helps your nervous system adapt to stress. But don’t try to be a superhero: too much can actually work against you by lowering testosterone levels. 

5.)   Have a good work attitude. Even-keeled emotions go a long way in warding off stress. Your body is designed to react to stress and then get back to life as normal. However, cortisol and other stress hormones can lower testosterone and increase your risk of developing insomnia, digestive disorders, memory loss, heart disease, obesity and depression.
What you do have control over—to an extent—is the way you handle stress.

The bottom line? You have to learn how to cope with life. Managing stress will give you peace of mind and, combined with these other healthy habits, perhaps a longer-lasting, healthier life.

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