Approximately one in four men over the age of 30 currently struggle with low testosterone levels.
Low testosterone has become an increasingly common problem among men. But, many men who suffer from don’t even realize it. This is often because they chalk their symptoms up to simply getting older.
If you’re walking around feeling less than your best, your testosterone levels could be contributing to the issue.
Read on to learn more about the symptoms of low testosterone and how you can figure out if you need to see a doctor for a testosterone check.
What is Testosterone?
Before getting into the symptoms of low testosterone, let’s briefly go over what testosterone is.
Testosterone is a hormone that is responsible for the development of male sexual traits. It is produced primarily by cells in the testicles known as Leydig cells.
Testosterone helps to regulate a number of important bodily functions, including:
- Healthy sperm development
- Maintaining healthy bone density levels
- Healthy fat distribution
- Muscle growth and strength
- Production of red blood cells
The brain and pituitary gland control the body’s testosterone levels. Women produce testosterone, too, but in much smaller amounts.
How Much Testosterone Do Men Need?
Generally speaking, the normal range of testosterone for males falls between 270 and 1,070 nanograms per deciliter.
Some doctors believe that the healthiest levels for men are somewhere between 400 and 600 nanograms per deciliter.
Testosterone tends to peak for men around age 20. From there, in most cases, levels slowly begin to decline.
A decrease in testosterone is normal. But, if your testosterone drops too low, you may begin to experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
Signs You Need a Testosterone Check
It’s true that not all men who have low testosterone experience symptoms. But, it’s still important to know what the symptoms of low testosterone are.
That way, as soon as you start to notice them, you can reach out to your doctor for a testosterone check. The sooner you have your testosterone levels tested, the sooner you can identify and treat the cause and start feeling like yourself again.
A lack of energy is one of the most common symptoms men experience when their testosterone levels are low.
If you have low testosterone, you may find that you feel tired all the time, even after getting a full night’s sleep. You may also have a hard time getting motivated to exercise or do other things that you used to enjoy.
If you’re struggling chronic fatigue and are constantly reaching for coffee or caffeinated drinks to keep yourself awake, low testosterone could be the cause.
Increased Body Fat
Many men also notice an increase in body fat when their testosterone drops too low.
People who have high testosterone tend to be quite lean, while people who have low testosterone tend to have higher body fat percentages. Men with low testosterone are especially likely to carry a lot of fat around their abdominals.
One study even found that men with very low testosterone (near zero) experienced a 22 percent increase in the amount of visceral fat surrounding their abdominals.
If you’ve recently gained weight, particularly around your midsection, a drop in your testosterone could be to blame.
Loss of Strength and Muscle Mass
In addition to contributing to an increase in body fat, low testosterone can also contribute to a decrease in muscle mass and strength.
Testosterone plays a significant role in muscle protein synthesis (the process of breaking down proteins and using them to build muscle mass).
If your body isn’t producing adequate amounts of testosterone, you’re going to have a hard time getting stronger and increasing your muscle mass, no matter how much time you’re putting in at the gym.
Erectile dysfunction is very common among men with low testosterone.
This is because testosterone is responsible for triggering the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is essential for the development and maintenance of an erection.
Low testosterone means reduced nitric oxide release. This, in turn, can lead to erectile dysfunction.
You may have a hard time becoming aroused when you’re with your partner. You may also notice that you no longer experience spontaneous erections (when you’re sleeping, for example), or that they don’t happen as frequently as they used to.
In addition to affecting your ability to achieve and maintain an erection, low testosterone can also cause your libido to plummet.
Men who have low testosterone tend to be less interested in sexual activity.
This, not surprisingly, can have a serious effect on romantic relationships. If your libido has suddenly decreased dramatically, you should get a testosterone check to make sure low testosterone isn’t the culprit.
Depression and Mood Swings
Testosterone levels are correlated with a positive mood, feelings of confidence, and an overall positive quality of life in men.
If you’re experiencing low testosterone levels, you may feel depressed.
You may also experience mood swings and sudden, unexplained bouts of irritability, anger, and/or nervousness.
Testosterone also plays an important role in cognitive health and memory retention. Men with low testosterone may find that they are more forgetful. They may also experience brain fog and have difficulty focusing during the day.
Poor memory is often a sign of low testosterone in older men.
One study of men aged 70 and older found a link between cognitive decline and testosterone levels. When testosterone decreased, so did their memory and cognitive abilities.
What Causes Low Testosterone?
There are many different conditions that can contribute to low testosterone levels.
Age is, of course, the most common. A certain decrease in testosterone is expected after about age 20 and isn’t necessarily cause for alarm.
At the same time, low testosterone can also be a symptom of another, more serious health problem. The following are some other conditions that can cause low testosterone:
- Inherited conditions like undescended testicles or hemochromatosis (which causes testicular failure or damage to the pituitary gland)
- Physical damage to the testicles (can be brought on by an injury or infection, as well as by chemotherapy or radiation treatments)
- Pituitary disorders
- Inflammatory diseases like tuberculosis, histiocytosis, or HIV that damage the pituitary gland
- Medications (including opioid painkillers and steroid drugs)
Severe stress (physical or emotional) can also throw off the body’s hormone balance and contribute to low levels of testosterone.
What Should You Do if You Have Low Testosterone?
It’s easy to read through a list of low testosterone symptoms and start panicking. But, that’s not exactly productive, is it?
If, after reading through these common symptoms, you think you might be experiencing low testosterone, take the following steps to figure out what’s causing your condition.
Get Your Testosterone Levels Checked
The first thing to do if you suspect you have low testosterone is to visit your doctor and get yourself tested.
The easiest way for doctors to test testosterone levels is with a blood test.
Blood tests check both your total testosterone and your free testosterone levels. Free testosterone is unattached to proteins and is more easily used by the body.
If your doctor finds that either your total or free testosterone levels are low, they will recommend some different steps you can take to start increasing your testosterone.
They will also likely perform additional tests or talk to you about your lifestyle to try and determine what has caused your testosterone levels to drop.
Learn about Your Treatment Options
There are several different approaches you can take to increase your testosterone levels.
Sometimes, some simple lifestyle changes (minimizing stress, losing weight, exercising more frequently, etc.) are all you need to get your levels back up within a normal range.
At the same time, though, you may need additional help to increase your body’s testosterone production and improve your symptoms.
One of the most common approaches doctors take to do this is known as testosterone replacement therapy.
What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
The purpose of testosterone replacement therapy is to use either synthetic or bioidentical testosterone supplements to boost testosterone levels and improve symptoms.
There are many different forms of testosterone replacement therapy, including:
- Skin patches
- Topical gels
- Oral patches
- Testosterone pills
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to help increase testosterone levels. Men find benefits from using all of these different modalities. But, it’s worth noting that many men’s health experts are partial to testosterone injections.
With an injection, the medicine does not have to pass through the digestive tract (like it does with pills). This means that more medicine makes it directly into the bloodstream and can be used more easily by the body.
There’s also less room for error when you use testosterone injections since it’s easy to measure your dosage and ensure you’re getting the proper amount.
Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Testosterone replacement therapy offers a wide range of benefits to men who are struggling with low testosterone levels. Some of the most well-documented benefits of this treatment include:
- Improved libido
- Increased ability to achieve and maintain an erection
- Better cognitive abilities
- Increased muscle mass
- Improved bone density
- Improved red blood cell production
Testosterone replacement therapy can also improve the mental and emotional symptoms of low testosterone (depression, anxiety, mood swings, low energy, etc.).
Can You Have Too Much Testosterone?
Some people are hesitant to try testosterone replacement therapy because they’re worried about getting too much testosterone.
It’s true that there are some negative symptoms associated with having too much testosterone.
Some of the most well-known side effects include:
- Mood swings and changes in temperament
- Oily, acne-prone skin
- Shrunken testicles
- High blood cell counts
- Increased estrogen levels
Obviously, none of these potential side effects sound particularly pleasant. But, you shouldn’t let them deter you from looking into testosterone replacement therapy.
As long as you’re working with a qualified medical doctor when you begin your testosterone replacement therapy, it’s unlikely that you’ll get too much and deal with these symptoms.
Your doctor will make sure you get the appropriate dose for your needs. He or she will adjust this dose as necessary to minimize any side effects you may experience.
Who is a Good Candidate for Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy can be a very helpful treatment option for men who are struggling with low testosterone. But, it’s a better treatment option for some men than others.
The following men are generally considered to be the best candidates for testosterone replacement therapy:
- Men who have had their testosterone checked and are below the normal range
- Men who do not have active prostate cancer or other forms of cancer
- Men who do not have a history of elevated red blood cells counts or heart problems
- Men who are middle-aged or older
- Men who are finished having children
Of course, you could still potentially benefit from testosterone replacement therapy even if you don’t meet these criteria. You’ll have to talk to your doctor to determine whether or not it’s the right course of action for you.
Always Work with a Doctor
If you think you’re a good candidate for testosterone replacement therapy, it’s imperative that you work with a qualified medical professional.
You can buy testosterone supplements online and in some health food stores. These products might seem legitimate, and they’ll likely be much cheaper. But, they’re definitely not of the same quality as the supplements you’ll receive from a doctor.
These supplements could also contain dangerous substances and fillers that might end up making your condition and symptoms worse.
They’re not regulated by the FDA or any other governing body, so there’s no way to know for sure.
Do You Have Low Testosterone?
After reading through the symptoms of low testosterone, do you think you could benefit from a testosterone check?
If you’re in need of a testosterone check, contact us at Mantality today.
When you work with us, you’ll receive safe, effective testosterone replacement therapy under the guidance of certified doctors and nurse practitioners.
We’ll carefully monitor your treatment and help you work toward feeling like a better version of yourself. We accept most insurances, too!