Testosterone is an important hormone produced by the body. It is mostly produced by the testicles. It is responsible for a variety of crucial functions in a man’s body, including building muscle, stimulating the production of sperm, sexual development, appearance, bone density, and more.
The production of this key hormone usually declines with age. The American Urological Association estimates that around 2 out of 10 men over age 60 have insufficient levels of testosterone, or low T. When the age range increases to 70s and 80s, this number goes up to 3 out of 10.
Clinically, low T is categorized as less than 300 nanograms per deciliter. 300 to 1000 ng/dL is considered the healthy, normal range. A serum testosterone test can be used to determine your exact level.
Inadequate T levels can cause an array of unwanted symptoms. Read on to learn the symptoms that may signal an issue in your hormone levels.
Changes in Mood
Testosterone plays a role in various physical processes in the body, including mental capacity and mood. Research indicates that inadequate T levels put guys at increased risk of irritability, difficulty concentrating, and depression.
Decreased Sex Drive
Testosterone plays a significant role in determining libido, or sex drive, in men. It is natural for men to expire a decreased sex drive as they get older. However, men suffering from too little of this hormone will notice a more drastic decrease in their sexual desire.
Along with stimulating sexual desire, T also plays a role in getting and maintaining erections. While it takes more than this hormone to cause an erection, it does stimulate brain cells to make nitric oxide. This molecule triggers chemical reactions that are required to achieve an erection. If levels are inadequate, a man may struggle with achieving erections.
However, inadequate T isn’t necessarily the only cause of sexual difficulties. Other health problems may be to blame. These may include:
- Alchohol Use
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Thyroid Problems
Decreased Semen Volume
This key hormone helps produce semen, the fluid that improves sperm mobility. Males without enough T may notice decreased semen volume during ejaculation.
Along with the other body functions it is responsible for, T also affects hair production. While balding is considered a natural part of getting older, males lacking enough T may notice an increased loss of facial or body hair.
Without enough T, excessive fatigue and decreased energy levels are often reported. If you feel exhausted all the time even if you get enough sleep, it may be worth talking with your doctor about your hormones.
Decreased Muscle Mass
This critically important hormone also helps build muscle. Therefore, inadequate T levels may cause decreased muscle mass. While studies have shown lack of this hormone has an effect on muscle mass, it may not necessarily affect muscle function or strength.
Raised Body Fat Levels
An increase in body fat is another sign to watch for if you think you might be suffering from insufficient T levels. Body fat may even accumulate in the breast tissue and enlarge it, causing a condition known as gynecomastia. This is believed to be a result of an imbalance between estrogen and testosterone.
Decreased Bone Density
Decreased bone mass, known as osteoporosis, is something adults usually associate with women. However, insufficient T levels can also cause a loss of bone density. Testosterone assists in bone production and strength. This means insufficient T levels may cause lower bone volume. Without adequate bone volume, the risk of bone fractures increases.
Unlike females, who know to expect a sudden drop in hormones around menopause, guys T levels drop more gradually over time. The greater the age, the more likely a guy will experience below-normal T levels.
If you are experiencing symptoms, your physician can conduct blood tests to determine your levels and decide if you need treatment. Treatment typically involves Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT for short. HRT patients take specific prescriptions as advised by their doctors.