Signs of Low Testosterone

Testosterone is a sex hormone produced in the human body. It’s primarily produced in a man’s testicles, affecting his appearance and sexual development. In men, testosterone contributes to sperm production, libido, bone density, and muscle weight. It has other functions, too.

Testosterone production fluctuates with age, typically decreasing with age. The American Urological Association estimates that approximately 20 percent of men over the age of 60 have low testosterone. This rate increases to nearly 30 percent among men in their 70s and 80s.

In some cases, testosterone decreases more than it should. Low testosterone, also known as low T, is diagnosed when testosterone levels fall below the normal range, typically under 300 nanograms per deciliter. This is diagnosed through a special blood test known as a testosterone test.

Signs of low T are often subtle. The following are some of the most common:

1. A flagging sex drive

Testosterone plays a critical role in a man’s libido or sex drive. Though most men experience a decline in libido as they age, men with low T may experience a drastic drop in desire.

2. Erectile difficulties

Testosterone helps men to achieve and sustain erections. While it’s not the only factor in a man’s ability to have an erection, it does play an important role. Low testosterone levels can make it difficult for a man to get an erection prior to sex. It may also prevent a man from having an involuntary erection, which typically happens during sleep.

However, other common health issues can also play a role in erectile dysfunction. These include thyroid problems, diabetes, smoking, depression, anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and alcohol use.

3. Low semen volume

Testosterone plays a role in semen production. Men experiencing low T sometimes experience a decrease in the volume of their semen when they ejaculate.

4. Hair loss

Hair production is a bodily function stimulated by testosterone. For a lot of men, balding is a natural part of the process of getting older. Balding has a genetic component—if you have family members who went bald, you’re more likely to also go bald. Men with low T may find that they lose hair on other parts of their body, such as their face, chest, or back, as well.

5. Fatigue

Men who suffer from low T have reported feeling exhausted. Because testosterone affects energy levels, having low T can leave you feeling extremely tired even when you’re getting plenty of sleep. You might also find it harder to motivate yourself to stay active.

6. Changes to the muscles and bones

Testosterone affects the composition of the muscles and bones. Men with low T may find that they are losing muscle weight. Other changes can include increased body fat, including gynemastia, a condition in which the breast tissue becomes larger than usual. Osteoporosis, a condition associated with thinning bone mass, is another symptom of low T. 

7. Mood swings

Testosterone influences much more than mere physical processes in the body. Men with lower than average testosterone may experience shifts in mood. They may also notice a difference in their ability to concentrate. Research has shown that men with low T may be more likely to experience depression, lack of focus, or irritability.

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