Testosterone is primarily found in men, but also in women in small amounts. It is naturally produced by the body to help balance different functions. It is secreted in the testicles in men and in the ovaries in women. Also, the adrenal glands contribute a small percentage of the testosterone produced.
By monitoring the hormone levels in the body, the endocrine system signals the responsible organs to produce testosterone. Commonly, testosterone is associated with men and its production begins at puberty. The hormone is responsible for mood and sex drive, which are affected when testosterone levels shoot up. Decreased levels also cause a variety of other symptoms.
While it is important to watch out for signs of Low T, it is also important to understand its main functions. It has multiple uses like regulating blood cell replication, improving cognitive function, regulating fertility, enhancing metabolism, and increasing muscle mass. When men suffer from low testosterone levels, the risks of infertility increase, among other negative effects.
That said, if you experience any of the following signs then there are high chances that it is low testosterone.
Low Sex Drive
Testosterone advantage largely impacts sex drive. Naturally, sexual appetite declines with age with men but so do the testosterone levels, which also decrease the libido further. The effects of low sex drive caused by Low T are more evident when compared to aging.
Low testosterone occurs at any age for various reasons and at any of the stages, sexual desires might change. While there are different ways of restoring testosterone to normal levels, it is important to consult a physician once you start experiencing imbalances.
Reduced Testicular Size
Smaller testicular size than normal is also another sign of decreased testosterone levels. In addition, the scrotum might also start feeling softer than it normally is. For the testicles and penis to develop, adequate amounts of testosterone are required in the body.
This is why Low T contributes to shrunken testicular size, as their growth and development are not supported. It is also important to note that reduced testosterone levels are not the only reasons for smaller testicles than usual, there are also other causes.
Loss of Bone Mass
Testosterone is responsible for most male characteristics, including muscle mass gain. When the hormone levels drop, the bone density decreases. While osteoporosis is a common condition in women Low T can also cause the same in men.
Difficulty Getting or Maintaining Erections
While testosterone does not directly lead to an erection, it plays a significant role. It works by stimulating brain receptors to produce nitric oxide which is responsible for erections. Nitric oxide is a molecule that promotes the chemical reaction that aids with getting and maintaining an erection.
When the levels of testosterone reduce, it prevents the chemical reaction making it more difficult to get an erection. While testosterone can impact the ability to gain an erection, other contributing factors include depression, alcohol use, diabetes, smoking, thyroid problems, stress, anxiety, high cholesterol, etc.
Sleep apnea is also a common sign of low testosterone. While a lot of individuals have challenges getting the required amount of sleep even with enough testosterone, decreased levels tend to make it worse. Usually, sleep apnea can be severe and temporarily stop one from breathing hence interrupting sleep.
Lack of enough sleep can affect testosterone levels, but hypogonadism(Low T) can also cause insomnia. Treating sleep apnea, therefore, can help to restore testosterone levels. Changes like sleeping consistently, getting rid of distractions, avoiding electronic screens before sleep, avoiding afternoon sleep, and keeping your bedroom cool can help improve the situation.
There might not be changes in your sex drive, but the semen count might be affected. Low semen output could be a result of low testosterone. The hormone is responsible for the body’s ability in the production of semen, and as such, a decline in it also translates to a decrease in semen volume.
Testosterone does not directly produce semen. Follicle-stimulating Hormone(FSH) is the hormone responsible for the production of semen. When testosterone levels drop, it also contributes to the decrease of FSH. That’s why in worst-case scenarios where infertility occurs due to testosterone, the problem can be reversed.
Normal testosterone levels in the body aid with different functions such as hair growth. As testosterone levels drop with age, it causes hair loss. In some instances, balding is inherited, but Low T can also cause the loss of both facial and body hair.
Exhaustion is very common, especially when you have to work for long hours. While there are different reasons for extreme fatigue, testosterone might be a culprit, especially when it is constant. “Low energy levels are also linked to Low T. Even after 7.5-8 hours of sleep you still feel fatigued, the problem might be caused by decreased testosterone,” says Sean, co-founder of Prolong Labs.
Mood Swings and Memory
Testosterone levels are also linked to behavior and mood changes. It is a known cause of lack of focus, irritability, as well as depression. Cortisol is the stress hormone responsible for controlling moods. When testosterone levels reduce, it causes an increase in cortisol which affects behaviors like anxiety, anger, irritability, and hostility.
Evidence from studies has also shown a close connection between testosterone and memory. Low levels have been linked to poor memory.
Increase in Body Fat
One of the main functions of testosterone is the development of muscle mass. Also, it helps prevent fat gain. Usually, consuming a diet meant to build muscle might not work with extremely low levels of testosterone. This means that there is zero muscle development since the food is stored in fat form. Gynecomastia is also very common for men with testosterone deficiency. The breast tissues start to develop because of improper hormone imbalances.
While women experience hormonal issues with age, men also get testosterone imbalances. The drop in testosterone levels is gradual and comes with noticeable signs which are treatable. For some of the above signs, testosterone deficiency is not the only cause, so it is important to seek expert advice before ruling out the other possible causes. Also, self-diagnosing should be avoided.