Testosterone is a hormone that is produced by the body.
In men, testosterone is produced mainly in the testes and is responsible for stimulating sperm production and sex drive, as well as developing muscle and creating bone mass. As men age, testosterone production and levels decrease (known medically as andropause).
When production falls below certain levels (generally considered to be below 300 ng/dL), several symptoms and complications can begin to occur. Signs of low testosterone (known medically as hypogonadism) can sometimes be subtle and mistaken simply as part of the aging process.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone
LOW SEX DRIVE – Testosterone plays a key role in a man’s libido, sex drive and sexual performance. As men get older, many experience a decreased sex drive. Men with low testosterone experience a more dramatic decrease in their desire to have sex. In addition, low levels of testosterone can make it much more difficult to achieve an orgasm.
DIFFICULTY ACHIEVING AND MAINTAINING AN ERECTION – In addition to testosterone stimulating a man’s sex drive, it also directly aids the body in achieving and maintaining an erection. Indirectly, low levels of testosterone are linked to many conditions that cause erectile dysfunction, including obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
HAIR LOSS – Testosterone plays a role in many functions of the body, including hair production. Balding is a natural part of aging for many men. However, those with lower testosterone may additionally experience a loss of body and facial hair.
LACK OF ENERGY AND STAMINA – Men with low levels of testosterone have reported extreme fatigue and decreases in energy levels. If you are getting normal amounts of sleep yet find yourself constantly tired, or if you have no energy to get through the workday, go to the gym or spend quality time with your friends or family, you could be experiencing the symptoms associated with low testosterone.
DECREASED LEAN MUSCLE MASS AND INCREASED BODY FAT – Testosterone plays a large role in the building and strengthening of muscle. Therefore, men with decreased levels of testosterone may notice a decrease in strength and muscle mass. They may also find it much more difficult to rebuild muscle mass and strength back to previous levels and size. Men with lowered levels of testosterone may also experience an increase in body fat. The genes that control body fat percentage are also responsible for circulating testosterone levels in men, therefore as testosterone levels decrease, body fat levels may increase.
MOOD CHANGES – Men with low levels of testosterone can experience extreme irritability and mood changes. Lowered levels of testosterone in the body are more likely to lead men to experience depression, irritability and a lack of attention and focus. Normal levels of testosterone help to boost mood and mental capacity.