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Low testosterone in Men: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Raymond Radiguet M.D.

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Testosterone is a dominant sex hormone found in males and females (though most commonly in males) that is responsible for the development of bones, muscle mass, and male reproductive organs.

Low testosterone refers to a state where the body is producing a lower amount of testosterone than is required to run the body. This is usually followed by a number of signs and symptoms that range from mild to quite deadly and life-threatening.

It is not unusual for the testosterone in our body to go down over time. However, when it happens rapidly or as a result of underlying medical conditions, it is important that you visit a doctor immediately. Young men who experience signs and symptoms of low testosterone are also likely to have testosterone deficiency.

Low testosterone in Men

How Common Is Low Testosterone In Men?

There is no accurate percentage for the number of men who are predicted to have low testosterone in their lifespan. However, it can be estimated that around 2% of all men will experience low testosterone in their lifespan.

Men are at their highest peak of testosterone around their late 20s. This peak slowly begins to reduce the more you age. When a man clocks 40, his testosterone levels are said to decrease 1 to 2 percent every year. As low testosterone comes with certain signs and symptoms, aging men may find themselves suffering from these symptoms. Although, this does not necessarily mean that they have testosterone deficiency. However, certain illnesses or diseases may hasten the decline of your testosterone levels.

While it is mostly found in elderly men, low testosterone could be present in men of various ages. Men with certain physical and medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and so on stand a higher chance of having low testosterone than men without it. Around 1 percent of males below 18 will experience low testosterone levels.

Causes of Low Testosterone in Men

Men above 40 experience a gradual reduction in testosterone levels each year. So, it’s not unusual for them to experience low testosterone. However, age isn’t the only factor that encourages low testosterone in the body.

Certain medical conditions could greatly reduce their testosterone levels. These conditions could affect them whether they are born with it, or contact them later in life. This includes;

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hemochromatosis and other metabolic disorders
  • Klinefelter syndrome (people born with an extra X chromosome)
  • Orchitis (when the male testicles become infected)
  • Noonan syndrome
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Ambiguous genitalia
  • Infection
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Kallman syndrome
  • Congenital defect
  • Kidney failure

If your testicles aren’t producing as much testosterone as it should, your testosterone blood levels will drop considerably. Other causes of low testosterone include

  • Severe injuries (especially to the testicles)
  • Pituitary gland tumors
  • Aging
  • Long term illnesses
  • Excess estrogen
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Steroids or opioids abuse
  • Delay in puberty
  • Head injuries
  • Antidepressants
  • Sarcoidosis and additional inflammatory conditions

Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Men

When your body’s testosterone is lower than it should be, you are likely to experience certain signs and symptoms associated with low testosterone levels. However, this symptoms are not applicable to everyone, and some men with low testosterone may never experience any symptoms;

1. Difficulties Maintaining an Erection

Testosterone is one of the important male sex hormones that helps in the development of the male sex organs. Without it, the penis may became weak and unable to become or remain erect.

2. Loss of Body Hair

People gradually produce less hair as they grow. This is caused by a depletion of testosterone levels in the body. People with low testosterone could find themselves losing massive amounts of hair due to low testosterone.

3. Reduced Testicle Size

As mentioned earlier, testosterone is responsible for the growth and maintenance of the male sex organs. Without it, the testicles may begin to shrink in on itself and reduce in size.

4. Reduced Sperm Count

A great way to know if you have low testosterone is by the amount of sperm in your ejaculate. Low testosterone will lead to a reduced production of sperm in the body.

5. Insomnia or Difficulty Sleeping

Commonly associated with low testosterone is losing the ability to sleep well, or getting weak and tired easily.

6. Reduced Sex Drive

Your sex drive is fueled by the testosterone in your body. This is why older people often lose interest in sex. Younger men with low testosterone may find themselves experiencing a loss of interest in sex as well.

7. Low Energy Levels

Testosterone helps provide the body with energy, and strength. If your body’s testosterone levels are low, you may find yourself getting tired easily, or experiencing massive fatigue, even after properly resting.

8. Constant Mood Swings

Low testosterone can mess with your mental state and cause constant mood changes. You may also be unable to focus, or get irritated easily.

9. Frequent Hot Flashes

Hot flashes refer to a sudden feeling of intense heat or warmth in your body. This symptom is rare but could be experienced by men with low testosterone levels.

10. Rapid Weight Gain

Testosterone supervises the production of muscle in the body. It also helps maintain the muscle. Without it, the body will be unable to maintain muscle. This will lead to most of the underdeveloped muscle turning to fat.

11. Lower Bone Mass

Testosterone helps maintain bone tissue and adds to bone mass. Without it, the bones will be weaker and more susceptible to breakage and fractures.

Treatment

Presently, testosterone replacement therapy remains the most popular and most recommended treatment for patient’s suffering from low testosterone. For those already showing signs of low testosterone, a medical professional could recommend that you take a blood test to confirm the presence of low testosterone in your body. A positive blood test could lead to you being recommended for testosterone replacement therapy.

The popularity of this particular treatment has been growing over the years. More men above 40 have decided to give this treatment a chance, and some even go as far as taking the testosterone replacement therapy without going through any blood tests. We do not recommend this method, and no certified medical personnel will give you this treatment without adequate procedure and blood tests.

While the treatment advances, your doctor will be monitoring your testosterone levels. Within a couple of weeks, your testosterone levels should have risen back to a regular amount, although you will have to continue taking testosterone therapy to prevent it from going down again. If you happen to through serious health conditions while undergoing treatment, another blood test will be performed to check the state of your body’s testosterone.

Testosterone therapy works fast and patients tend to start seeing results within a few weeks of usage. There are multiple ways to administer this form of treatment. Your doctor will most likely recommend a method they feel will be most effective for you;

  • Creams
  • Injection
  • Transdermal skin patches
  • Creams
  • Implanted pellets
  • Tablets

Natural Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels

Testosterone therapy might be the most popular method of increasing low testosterone in our body, but there are other natural ways you can boost your body’s testosterone levels.

There are various reasons why people might be unable to try out testosterone therapy. They may have suffered an allergic reaction to it in the past, have medical conditions that don’t allow for testosterone therapy, or may be reluctant to commit to the life-long treatment testosterone therapy demands. Either way, there are other methods you could use to boost your testosterone levels easily and without stress.

In the end, it all comes down to basic fitness and staying healthy. A minor alteration to your diet could lead you to eating healthier foods. These foods could help boost your testosterone considerably. Ensure that your meal is filled with lots of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, and so on. Weight loss and frequent exercise can also help increase your body’s testosterone.

Before you try out any natural supplement that claims to be able to lift testosterone levels, make sure you contact a medical professional and discuss thoroughly with them. Your doctor is free to recommend other alternative methods for you to look into. The method that is most cost effective, and appeals best to you would be a perfect choice. Remember that it’s completely normal for testosterone levels to drop in aging men, and the effects of these supplements also vary depending on the age of the user.

Conclusion

Women are likely to go through a major reduction in testosterone levels during and after menopause. However, for men their hormone decrease is going to happen more naturally. Elderly men will probably end up having low testosterone levels.

Before deciding to try out testosterone replacement therapy, you should consider other methods of treatment that are equally as effective, and could work better for you.

While testosterone therapy remains one of the overall best treatments for those with low testosterone, there are many demerits such as the expenses, and the fact that testosterone therapy is usually a life-long treatment. To solve this problem, other better alternatives should be properly considered beforehand.

If you decide to use testosterone supplements, ensure you contact a medical professional and discuss the adverse effects the drug could end up having on you.

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