What Happens When a Man's Testosterone Is Low?
Testosterone is one of the most important hormones for men. It is responsible for the development of such male attributes as voice, physical appearance, and even some behavioral features.
The Role of Testosterone in the Male Body
Like some other hormones, testosterone is produced in the testes (testicles). Testosterone levels in males impact the development of secondary and tertiary sexual characteristics.
- Physical appearance, including the development of the skeleton, face, and facial expressions according to male characteristics.
- The size of the reproductive organs and their function.
- Production of prostate secretions.
- Physical strength and endurance.
- Voice pitch (men with a normal level of testosterone have a deep or resonant voice).
- Hair density, facial hair growth (mustache, beard).
- The intensity of the body odor.
- The increase in muscle mass and its distribution in a «male pattern.»
- Mental and emotional state — attentiveness, reaction time, general behavior, response to threat.
The normal or healthy level of testosterone in males ranges from 12 to 33 nmol/L. However, testosterone levels in the blood can fluctuate throughout the day. For example, sexual activity and sports increase testosterone levels. In addition, different laboratories use various methods to determine the concentration of testosterone. Therefore, each laboratory indicates its own normal testosterone value.
With increasing age, the production of sex hormones decreases. Testosterone levels in men typically decline by about 1 percent each year, starting around age 30.
What are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Reduced Sex Drive
First of all, it affects sexual function. Some men with low testosterone experience a drop in libido (sexual desire). This is manifested in avoiding sexual contact or a drastic drop in desire. Even the thought of possible intimacy makes men feel tired and irritated. They tend to prefer to get busy with work.
Men with low testosterone may find it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection during sexual intercourse. Low testosterone causes erectile dysfunction. However, there are many reasons for a weak erection. Testosterone deficiency is one of the possible causes.
Decreasing Semen Quality and Quantity
Normal semen volume ranges from 2 ml to 5 ml. If it hardly reaches 2 ml, it is recommended to look for a reason.
Chronic Fatigue, Depression
Common signs of a drop in testosterone levels include drowsiness, the unremitting feeling of tiredness, irritability, symptoms of depression, a state of despondency, decreased concentration, hopelessness, and despair.
Increased Body Fat and Female Body Features
Both women and men have female sex hormones (estrogen) and male sex hormones (testosterone). In the case of hormonal imbalance, the level of estrogen in the body can increase. This affects the formation of body fat and men with low testosterone levels can get a more feminine body shape. Sometimes it leads to a condition called gynecomastia, or the development of larger breasts in men.
Reduced facial hair growth (men cannot grow a beard or have patchy beards) and baldness.
Frequent Bone Fractures
Low testosterone levels contribute to diminished bone density. Testosterone deficiency, particularly in older men, is one of the most important causes of bone fragility. It results in an increased risk of fractures.
A Reduction in Testicle Size
Hormonal imbalance, which is associated with obesity, can sometimes cause testicular atrophy. Studies show that smaller testicle size corresponds to reduced production of testosterone. This phenomenon leads to worse conditions. Besides, the use of anabolic steroids is also linked to decreasing testicular volume.
Loss of Muscle Mass
Having low testosterone can significantly reduce muscle mass. It is one of the most unpleasant symptoms that affect men and athletes. Especially when it is accompanied by an increase in belly and chest fat.
Low testosterone can lead to insomnia. As a result, sleep disturbance can cause an even greater decrease in testosterone levels.
How to Test Testosterone Levels?
Blood and urine tests are used to determine the level of testosterone. If osteoporosis (low bone density) is suspected, a physician may order a bone marrow test. Once the test results are available, physicians at Buckhead Clinic will prescribe testosterone boosters, if necessary. It should be also noted that your therapist chooses methods that affect not only the level of testosterone but also the reasons that led to a reduction of this hormone in the body.