Low testosterone levels can lead to sexual dysfunction, chronic fatigue, mental health changes, loss of self-confidence, and a host of systemic health issues.
Testosterone (T) is a sex hormone and steroid hormone found in both men and women. Men have a significantly higher amount of T, contributing to increased muscle mass, bone density, and body hair compared to women. Testosterone also helps develop male reproductive tissues.
Normal range of testosterone levels are different for men and women:
- Men — 300-1,000 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter), or 10-35 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter)
- Women — 15-70 ng/dL, or 0.5-2.4 nmol/L
Low testosterone (low T) is when your T levels fall below that range. It’s natural for testosterone production to decrease over time. Almost half of men over 45 experience low T, but not everyone deals with noticeable symptoms.
Below, we’ll cover the 15 most common symptoms of low testosterone levels, including ways to manage each symptom. However, remember that the best treatment is to address the root cause. We’ll discuss some low testosterone treatments, later on.
1. Low Sex Drive
Because testosterone directly impacts your libido, lowered sex drive is a common symptom of low testosterone levels. Low testosterone may mean you lose your desire for sexual activity. It could mean you lose some of your libido or all of it.
2. Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Testosterone regulates sexual function, including erectile function. Low testosterone levels may lead to difficulty getting or maintaining an erection. This erectile dysfunction can lead to loss of self-confidence and difficulty with sexual performance.
Check out these natural ways to address ED:
- Anti-inflammatory diet
- Regular exercise
- Weight loss
- Stress reduction
- Quitting alcohol and tobacco
- Therapy, by yourself or with your partner
3. Low Sperm Count
Although low testosterone levels don’t always cause infertility, low levels of testosterone leads to low sperm count. Testosterone is required in the production of sperm, along with follicle-stimulating hormone.
Limiting drug use is a great way to boost sperm count. Hormone therapy is another treatment method for low sperm production.
4. Hair Loss
Hair loss may be caused by age, genetics, trauma, or low testosterone levels. Technically, it’s low dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels that lead to baldness, but DHT is directly produced from testosterone. Low testosterone can also lead to loss of body hair or facial hair.
Some simply accept hair loss or even shave their head for aesthetic purposes. However, treatments like Rogaine and Propecia are effective hair growth treatments against male-pattern baldness.
5. Increased Body Fat
Low testosterone levels are associated with slower metabolism and increased body fat. Sometimes, low testosterone causes increased body fat, but sometimes high amounts of body fat decreases testosterone levels. Consider this a vicious cycle.
Most understand that high body fat leads to an increased risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Regular exercise is known to help decrease body fat and increase testosterone levels. Same with a healthy diet.
6. Decreased Muscle Mass
If your testosterone is below the normal level, muscle mass decreases, which results in a slower metabolism. This domino effect can lead to increased body fat, diminished strength, chronic fatigue, constipation, headache, and depression.
Plenty of dietary protein and regular strengthening exercises may help address decreased muscle mass. But the best treatment is getting your testosterone levels back to normal.
7. Loss of Bone Density
Low testosterone results in loss of bone density. Testosterone plays a significant role in young men’s bone formation. Testosterone acts directly on osteoblasts, which are cells that secrete the matrix for bone formation.
The bones of women, who have less testosterone than men, are generally less dense than men’s bones. Low bone density leaves you more vulnerable to bone fractures and osteoporosis.
To prevent weak bones, consume plenty of the following vitamins and minerals in your diet:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
- B vitamins
As a result of low testosterone, the penis may lose both length and girth. Without a steady stream of testosterone in your bloodstream, the penis, scrotum, and testicles can shrivel.
As George Constanza of Seinfeld would say, “Significant shrinkage!” ED medication may help while you’re working to increase overall testosterone levels.
The testicles may also shrink — sometimes to half the size. (It’s worth noting that too much testosterone may also shrink the testicles, according to the University of Utah Health Hospitals and Clinics.)
9. Excess Breast Tissue
You may experience excess breast tissue (gynecomastia) when testosterone levels are low — more accurately, when testosterone and estrogen levels are imbalanced. Breasts may also become swollen or sore.
Years of clinical studies show that testosterone typically stops or slows breast tissue growth. This does not necessarily mean that high levels of testosterone will reduce or tighten breast tissue.
Anemia is when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron deficiency is the most common cause, but other vitamin deficiencies could be the underlying cause. Constant fatigue, lightheadedness, and cold sensitivity are the most common symptoms of anemia.
Low testosterone levels may lead to anemia, but more often, low testosterone is simply a sign of larger health problems which contribute to anemia. Beware that treating anemia alongside treating low T may lead to increased risk of blood clots.
11. Hot Flashes
Men can get hot flashes too — about a third of older men, and 3 in 4 men who experience low T, according to John Hopkins Medicine. 75% of all women get hot flashes sometime in their life — usually for 2 years or less during menopause.
Hot flashes and night sweats are both symptoms of low testosterone levels. This symptom includes sudden feelings of heat across one’s body and sweating profusely, to the point of soaking your clothes.
This condition is commonly explained by low testosterone, but other conditions could be the root cause of night sweats:
- Liver disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Certain types of cancer
Low testosterone leads to many symptoms which result in chronic fatigue and low energy levels. Low testosterone levels can cause anemia, slowed metabolism, increased body fat, decreased muscle mass, and mood changes which can all contribute to fatigue.
A lot of health conditions can lead to fatigue, and fatigue is highly detrimental to your overall health. Get your testosterone levels in check, and your fatigue may disappear.
13. Trouble Sleeping
According to this 2014 study, “Low testosterone may affect overall sleep quality”. Even though below-normal testosterone can cause fatigue, it can also result in trouble sleeping and lower quality sleep. That means you’re tired all the time, but you’re not getting enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep is critical for your whole-body health and quality of life. Consider these lifestyle changes to improve sleep quality:
- Cut off technology an hour before bed
- Avoid caffeine within 8 hours of bedtime
- Exercise regularly in the first half of your day, and avoid exercise in the second half
- Wear special glasses to reduce blue light exposure that can screw up your circadian rhythm
14. Mood Changes
When your testosterone levels drop below normal, mood changes are likely to follow. Certain brain cells actually have testosterone receptors. Testosterone deficiency is associated with depression, anxiety, nervousness, irritability, and mood swings.
Less sensitive names for these mood changes include “irritable male syndrome” and “male menopause.”Don’t feel ashamed by these mood changes. They are natural, but they can also be treated.
How can you tell if you have low testosterone levels? You can tell if you have low testosterone if you experience common symptoms of low T, such as mood changes, loss of sex drive, fatigue, hair loss, and even memory loss.
15. Difficulty Concentrating/Memory Loss
Because of those brain cells with testosterone receptors plus testosterone’s impact on energy levels, the male brain’s frontal lobe depends on testosterone for proper function. Low testosterone levels may lead to difficulty concentrating, brain fog, memory loss, loss of cognitive function, and other brain health issues.
Even though low testosterone may result in cognitive decline, supplementing testosterone does not necessarily reverse that decline. It may turn out to be a one-way problem.
Common Causes of Low Testosterone
There are many risk factors and root causes which can contribute to low testosterone levels, including:
- Testicular injury
- Testicular infection
- Testicular inflammation (orchitis)
- Absence of testicles at birth (anorchia)
- Undescended testicles (cryptorchidism)
- Old age
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Alcohol, drug, or steroid abuse
- Too much or too little iron
- High cholesterol
- Pituitary gland or hypothalamus disorders
- Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes
- Certain tumors
- Genetic medical conditions, such as Klinefelter syndrome or Noonan syndrome
- Certain medications, such as estrogens, androgens, psychoactive drugs, corticosteroids, or opioids
How is low testosterone diagnosed? To diagnose low testosterone, your healthcare provider may ask about your current symptoms, perform a physical examination, inquire about your medical history, and order a blood test to measure total testosterone, prolactin, or luteinizing hormone in your blood. Your doctor may send you to a specialist, such as an endocrinologist or urologist.
Low Testosterone Treatment Options
Here are the most effective medical treatment options for low testosterone levels:
- Testosterone replacement therapy
- Testosterone injections administered every 7-14 days
- Skin patch which regularly releases little amounts of testosterone
- Topical gels which release testosterone into your bloodstream
- Testosterone pellets implanted under your skin which slowly release testosterone
- Testosterone capsules to swallow and absorb into your blood
According to guidelines from the American Urology Association, inadequate evidence cannot estimate the risk of testosterone replacement therapy in men who have had prostate cancer. Men’s health is an ever-evolving field, which needs more progress to be made.
You can try these all-natural lifestyle changes to increase testosterone:
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Eat a healthy diet rich in protein, vitamin D, zinc, and healthy fats
- Get plenty of high-quality sleep
- Supplement zinc, fenugreek, or magnesium
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco
- Reduce your stress levels
How can I raise my testosterone level? You can raise your testosterone levels with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of sleep — and by limiting alcohol, tobacco, and stress. The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements as medicine, but some low T sufferers report success with zinc, fenugreek, and magnesium supplements.
Need More Guidance?
If you’re interested in more personalized guidance, you’re not alone. Millions are contacting functional practitioners who treat root causes instead of masking symptoms. Low testosterone levels are a common health condition with multiple possible treatment paths.
Schedule an appointment with us at Sano Health Club to get the best out of your individualized healthcare experience. And follow us on Instagram for free tips on living your healthiest life!
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