Signs of Low Testosterone (Low T) are often subtle and can be mistaken as a natural part of aging. Testosterone is a hormone that is produced by the body in testicles and is responsible for stimulating sperm production and sex drive, as well as building muscles and bone mass.
As men age, testosterone production decreases. When production dramatically drops or ceases, a range of symptoms and complications can occur. Low T is diagnosed when levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter. Andropause, a decline in testosterone production, is the male counterpart to menopause. While women experience a drastic decrease in estrogen at a certain age, the production of testosterone in men decreases gradually.
One of the first signs of Low T is a low libido. As men age, most of them experience a decline in sex drive in varying degrees. However, someone with Low T will likely experience a more drastic drop – which is often noticed by his partner. During sex, Low T can also make it difficult to achieve an orgasm.
Since testosterone stimulates a man’s sex drive – it also aids in achieving an erection. However testosterone alone doesn’t cause an erection, but it does stimulate receptors in the brain to produce nitric oxide – a molecule that helps trigger an erection. Low T is linked to many conditions that cause erectile dysfunction, including obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
Low T doesn’t only affect your sex drive. It also plays a role in the production of semen, a fluid that aids in the mobility of sperm. The more testosterone a man has, the more semen he produces. Men with Low T will notice a decrease in the volume of their sperm during ejaculation.
Testosterone also plays a part in other bodily functions like hair production. Balding is a natural part of aging for many men. However, a man with Low T may experience a loss of body and facial hair. Other signs of Low T are extreme fatigue and a noticeable decrease in energy levels. If you are tired all the time, despite getting plenty of sleep, or if you’re finding it harder to get motivated, you might be experiencing symptoms of Low T.
Because testosterone plays a role in the building and strengthening of muscles, men with Low T might notice a decrease in both muscle mass and strength. This is noticeable especially in the arms, legs, and/or chest. Unfortunately, due the loss of muscle mass, men with Low T will start to notice an increase in body fat. Research has shown that the genes that control body fat percentage are also responsible for circulating testosterone levels in men.
Other warning signs to watch for with Low T include a decrease in bone mass. The weakening of bones is a condition called osteoporosis and is often thought of something that only affects women. However men with Low T can also experience bone loss because testosterone aids in the production and strengthening of bones. Men with Low T are susceptible to bone fractures – usually in the hip, feet, ribs, and/or wrists.
Women often experience mood changes with menopause and low estrogen levels. However a man with Low T can also experience similar symptoms. Testosterone is often described as the “fuel” for men. It drives many physical processes in the body and can help boost moods and mental capacity when levels are low, men will experience mood swings, depression, irritability, and/or lack of focus.
If you think you may be experiencing Low T, or showing some of the signs mentioned above, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician at the Boston Medical Group to discuss your testosterone options.