Testosterone is a hormone that the testicles in men produce. If you are experiencing shifts with the sexual urge where there are “high” and “low” moments, this hormone has a part to play.
The hormone has a role in the male physique and sexual development including muscle and bone mass. It is also responsible for stimulating the production of sperm and the sex drive.
Is there a link between low testosterone and a declining sex drive? Men older than 60 years old usually have low testosterone.
Men can experience a variety of symptoms once there is a significant drop in the level of the hormone. A man has low testosterone if the level drops below 300 ng/dL. The normal range is within 300-1000 ng/dL. Generally, a blood test specifically serum testosterone test helps determine the level of the circulating hormone in the body.
What are the usual causes?
Among young men, a decline in the level of testosterone can be due to certain ailments including COPD, type 2 diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, and pituitary gland conditions.
Some of the hereditary causes among men include Klinefelter syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, and Kallman syndrome. Hemochromatosis is also a condition that causes low testosterone where the body stores large amounts of iron.
Doctors categorize hypogonadism as primary or secondary. The primary form stems from an issue in the testicles. It might be due to a developmental issue, damage to the testicles and chemotherapy or radiation treatment. For the secondary form of hypogonadism, the testicles are normal but function incorrectly due to an issue with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.
Signs of low testosterone
There are various symptoms that arise if there is a drastic drop in the level of testosterone. If you are experiencing a decline in your sexual performance or there is something wrong at the “peak” of the activity, you might be low on testosterone.
The indications of low T are often subtle. If you are worried that your performance is “out of sync” most of the time, it might a sign of low testosterone. There are various signs that you should watch out for.
Low sex drive
Testosterone has a vital role in libido or sex drive among men. Some men face a decline as part of the aging process. Nonetheless, some with low levels are likely to end up with a significant drop in their desire to have sex.
Since testosterone stimulates the sex drive, it also helps in reaching and maintaining an erection. Remember that the hormone alone will not cause an erection but also stimulates the receptors in the brain to release nitric oxide. This is an essential molecule that triggers a sequence of chemical reactions necessary to allow an erection to occur. Once the level is too low, this results in difficulty in achieving an erection before sexual activity or experience spontaneous erections.
It is important to note that testosterone is only one of the various factors that aid with erectile function. There are various health conditions that affect erectile function such as:
- Thyroid conditions
- High cholesterol
- Alcohol use
Poor semen volume
Testosterone has a role in the production of semen which is the milk-like fluid that promotes the motility of sperm. Men with a low level of testosterone often notice a reduction in the volume of semen during ejaculation.
The hormone is also important for various bodily functions including the production of hair. Balding is part of the natural aging process for most men. Although there is a hereditary component to balding, men with low levels might experience loss of both facial and body hair.
Men with low testosterone often experience significant fatigue and a drop in the energy level. One might have low levels if tired most of the time despite getting enough sleep at night or if there is difficulty in getting motivated to exercise or engage in other physical activities.
Loss of muscle mass
Since the hormone has a role in building muscle in the body, men with a low level might end up with poor muscle mass. In one study, it reveals that testosterone can affect the muscle mass, but not necessarily its function or strength.
Increase in body fat
If testosterone drops to a low level, men might also experience an increase in overall body fat. Generally, men oftentimes develop gynecomastia or enlargement of the breast tissues. The effect is likely to occur due to an imbalance between the hormones estrogen and testosterone in men.
Poor bone mass
Thinning of the bone mass or osteoporosis is often associated with women. Nevertheless, men who have a drop in the level of the hormone can also experience bone loss.
It is important to note that testosterone aids with the production and strengthening of bone. If there is a low level, especially among older men, they have poor bone volume and prone to fractures.
Men with low testosterone might experience changes in the mood. Since the hormone affects several physical processes within the body, it also influences the mood and mental capabilities. In one study, having a low level puts one at high risk for depression, lack of focus or irritability.
Unlike women who undergo a rapid decline of the hormonal levels upon reaching menopause, men experience a gradual decrease of testosterone over time.
The older the man, the more likely he is going to experience a decline in the level of testosterone in the body. Men with levels below 300 ng/dL might experience a few symptoms.
The doctor might require a blood test and suggest the suitable treatment. The doctor can discuss the potential risks and benefits of testosterone replacement therapy if suitable.