Low Testosterone: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

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Feb 27, 2024
Low Testosterone: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

What symptoms of low testosterone are present, and how may one increase it?

Men who have low testosterone levels may experience erectile dysfunction. They might also affect mood, sleep patterns, and the size of the testicles, among other things. Low testosterone can cause decreased sex drive and decreased bone mass in both males and females.
Although testosterone is a sex hormone frequently associated with men, females do have small amounts of it.
It serves a variety of crucial purposes, such as:
  • the growth of the muscles and bones
  • the growth of hair, a deeper voice, and other features linked to appearance
  • the process of sperm production
As one ages, testosterone production can decrease, and low testosterone symptoms are common in the elderly.
Low testosterone is defined by the American Urological Association as having fewer than 300 nanograms (ng) of the hormone per deciliter (dl) of blood. Additionally, they state that roughly 2 out of every 100 males have low testosterone.

A note about sex and gender

Gender and sex are spectrum concepts. When referring to sex assigned at birth, this article will use the terms "male," "female," or both.

Symptoms of low testosterone

The symptoms and indicators of low testosterone are listed below.
Symptoms of low testosterone
Symptoms of low testosterone

Reduced muscle mass

Because of its role in the formation of muscle mass, testosterone levels below normal might lead to a notable loss of muscular mass.
Yet, a 2016 analysis found that although low testosterone results in a loss of bulk, the muscles' ability to operate and their strength do not decline.

Reduced bone mass

Testosterone contributes to the production and upkeep of bone mass. This volume can be decreased by low testosterone, which increases the risk of fractures in the bones.

Reduced sex drive

Sex drive is often reduced in people with low testosterone.
Males will notice a considerable decline in their desire for sex when low testosterone is the cause, although a decreased sex drive is a natural part of aging.

A decrease in energy levels

Fatigue and low testosterone levels can go hand in hand.
Even after getting enough sleep, a person may experience fatigue or lose interest in physical activity.

An increase in body fat

A decrease in testosterone levels may cause a rise in body fat.
Gynecomastia, or breast enlargement, is a possible side effect of the hormone deficit in certain individuals.

Hair loss

Hair loss is a common side effect of aging for many people, and age-related hair loss can affect anyone.
In a previous study published in 2012, the authors discovered that in certain women undergoing treatment for symptoms associated with sex hormone insufficiency, testosterone implants promoted hair growth.

Symptoms of low testosterone in males

Certain signs of low testosterone levels might also affect men.

Problems with erections

Erections may be difficult to get or keep when testosterone levels are low. Nevertheless, erectile dysfunction is not always directly brought on by low testosterone levels. It might be challenging for someone with high testosterone levels to get an erection, and vice versa for someone with low levels.
Nitric oxide is produced by the penile tissues when testosterone is present, and this initiates a series of events that culminate in an erection. A man might not be able to get an erection if his hormone levels are too low.
A few more things that can lead to erectile dysfunction are:
Research indicates that men with mild erectile dysfunction may benefit from testosterone replacement treatment.

Reduction in testicle size

A man experiencing low testosterone may observe a decrease in testicular size unrelated to cold weather.

Reduction in the amount of semen

The fluid that comprises most of a man's ejaculate is called semen. This kind of fluid facilitates the sperm's approach to the egg.
Reduced semen levels may be a sign of a decline in testosterone since testosterone aids in the stimulation of semen production. Hormonal problems may also result from it.

Difficulty sleeping

It may be difficult for people with low testosterone levels to fall or stay asleep.
Males suffering from sleep apnea frequently have low testosterone levels. Breathing becomes difficult for a while due to this potentially serious illness, which might interfere with sleep.

Changes in mood or mood swings

There is evidence to show that depression, irritability, and lack of attention are common in people with low testosterone levels.
According to a 2017 assessment, testosterone replacement therapy considerably raised the quality of life for people with low testosterone levels overall and reduced their symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of low testosterone in females

Certain symptoms of low testosterone can also affect women; these include the following.

Irregular menstrual cycles

An irregular menstrual cycle can be the result of a hormonal imbalance brought on by low testosterone levels.

Anemia

The hormone testosterone aids in the body's production of red blood cells (RBCs). Anemia is a blood condition that can arise from low testosterone levels, wherein the red blood cells decrease in number. The primary sign is exhaustion.
According to a previous study from 2006, women over 65 who had low testosterone also typically had lower hemoglobin levels, which increased their risk of anemia.

Causes of low testosterone levels

The production of testosterone often starts to decline after menopause and after the age of thirty. Nonetheless, low testosterone levels can also occur in younger individuals.
Any age can be affected by hypogonadism in males, a disorder in which the testicles generate little to no testosterone.
The following conditions can result in hypogonadism:
  • testicular damage, infection, or injury
  • hereditary diseases like Klinefelter syndrome
  • radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer
  • illness of the pituitary gland or other hormone problems
  • drugs, such opiate-based painkillers
  • abuse of drugs and alcohol
Low testosterone levels in females can be caused by the following conditions:
  • adrenal gland insufficiency
  • surgical removal of the ovaries
  • taking oral estrogen therapy

When to contact a doctor

Not everyone with low testosterone has symptoms, and some only find out about it during a standard physical examination that includes blood tests.
However, medical assistance should be sought by anyone exhibiting one or more of the aforementioned symptoms.

Diagnosis

A doctor would frequently conduct a physical examination and go over the patient's symptoms in order to identify low testosterone. In order to search for more indications, the doctor could additionally ask for tests.
For instance, a test for bone density may reveal decreased bone mass, which is one effect of low testosterone.

How can a person treat low testosterone levels?

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is the most widely used treatment.
Usually, a doctor will only recommend TRT in cases where the patient exhibits several low testosterone symptoms and has blood test results that support the diagnosis.
TRT can be delivered in a number of ways, such as:
  • skin patches
  • gels
  • tablets that dissolve in the mouth
  • injections
  • surgically implanted pellets that release the hormone
After beginning TRT, most patients get symptom alleviation in three to sixty weeks. Depending on the ailment, this may change.

Can a person naturally boost testosterone levels?

Exercise and weight loss are two common natural ways to naturally raise testosterone levels.
Although dietary and lifestyle modifications by themselves might not be enough to raise levels, they frequently can.
It's crucial to keep in mind that as men age, they usually lose testosterone and that there are less long-term advantages to changing their lifestyle.
While zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidant vitamins help enhance testosterone production, diets high in trans fats can have a deleterious effect on an individual's testosterone levels.
A balanced diet low in trans fats and high in nutrient-dense whole foods may help raise testosterone levels in the body.

In brief

Roughly 2 out of every 100 men suffer with low testosterone, according to the American Urology Association. Even while most people naturally lose testosterone as they age, the risk increases with age.
Being aware of the symptoms can aid in an early diagnosis and course of treatment for the majority of cases with low testosterone.

Frequently asked questions

Some frequently asked questions concerning low testosterone are listed below.

What happens when a male’s testosterone is low?

Low testosterone levels in men can result in a number of symptoms. These may include diminished lean muscle mass, depression, erectile dysfunction, low libido, and irritability.
In addition, it may result in smaller testicles, less semen, and trouble falling asleep.
A person should consult a doctor if they observe these symptoms. After that, a doctor can develop a plan of care to raise their testosterone levels. Testosterone therapy is frequently used in treatment.

Can low testosterone cause diabetes?

Research indicates that low testosterone levels in men are linked to type 2 diabetes, which is the most prevalent kind of the disease.
In response to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar, testosterone aids the body's cells in producing more glucose, or blood sugar. Insulin resistance may be impacted by decreased testosterone. The body may have to create more insulin as a result to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
The body stores extra glucose in fat cells when cells are full, which can result in diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Does someone with low testosterone see an endocrinologist or urologist?

A patient may be sent by their primary care doctor to an endocrinologist, who focuses on disorders of the hormone-related system, or to a urologist, who specializes in problems of the male reproductive system.

Does low testosterone affect fertility?

15% of men who experience infertility also have low testosterone.
Low testosterone, however, is not the cause of infertility. Low testosterone may not be the root cause of infertility in those with fertility disorders, but rather a sign of a problem with testicular function.
For instance, a person's testosterone levels can drop and infertility can result from testicular atrophy. Here, low testosterone is not the cause of infertility; rather, it is a sign of an underlying illness.

Is low testosterone genetic?

There may be a greater chance of low testosterone as a result of genetic variations affecting the Y chromosome and the sex hormone-binding protein. One protein that aids in getting testosterone into the body's tissues is called SHBG.
The synthesis of testosterone can also be impacted by rare genetic conditions like Klinefelter syndrome, in which males have an extra X chromosome.
141 novel genetic markers that may help determine the risk for low testosterone were found in a 2021 study.