Low testosterone levels can have a significant impact on men’s health and can cause a range of symptoms, including erectile dysfunction, sleep disturbances, mood changes, and decreased muscle mass. In some cases, low testosterone levels can also cause changes in the size of the testicles.
Low testosterone levels can also affect women’s health, leading to reduced bone mass and a decreased sex drive. In both men and women, low testosterone levels can increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, which can negatively impact overall health and quality of life.
In this text, we will cover all the essential information related to low testosterone, its symptoms and the wheys for its treatment.
Note: Our team has conducted extensive research and gathered information from reputable health sites, including WebMD, Health Line, Medical News Today, and Urology Care Foundation. We have also analyzed studies to ensure that the information presented is accurate and relevant to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the impact of low testosterone levels on the body.
What is a Low Testosterone Condition?
Male hypogonadism, also known as low testosterone, is a medical condition characterized by inadequate production of the male sex hormone testosterone by the testicles. The Leydig cells within the testicles are responsible for the production of testosterone. This condition can result in a range of symptoms that vary depending on the age of the affected person.
As men age, testosterone levels naturally decline, leading to a decrease in sexual function and other symptoms. However, low testosterone can affect individuals of any age, including biological men, non-binary individuals assigned male at birth, and transgender women who have not undergone feminizing hormone therapy.
Low testosterone is also known by other names, including:
- Testosterone deficiency syndrome
- Testosterone deficiency
- Primary hypogonadism
- Secondary hypogonadism
- Hypergonadotropic hypogonadism
The Importance of Testosterone and How It Affects Men and Women
Testosterone is a critical hormone that is responsible for the development of male physical features, such as muscle mass, bone density, and sex organs, as well as for sperm production in individuals assigned male at birth. However, testosterone also affects people assigned as females at birth, but at much lower levels. Therefore, maintaining adequate testosterone levels is crucial for many bodily functions, such as muscle mass, bone density, and sexual and reproductive function.
The levels of testosterone in your body are carefully regulated by your hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Any disruption to this process can cause low testosterone levels, which is also known as male hypogonadism. Signs of testosterone deficiency can manifest in different ways, such as decreased sexual desire, maintaining an erection, fatigue, reduced muscle mass, and reduced bone density.
Fortunately, there are treatment options available for low testosterone, such as testosterone replacement therapy. However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any treatment to determine the underlying cause of low testosterone and to discuss the potential risks and benefits of treatment.
In conclusion, low testosterone can have a significant impact on physical and emotional health. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate medical attention can help individuals improve their quality of life and overall well-being.
How Widespread is Low Testosterone?
The prevalence of low testosterone, or TD, among men varies depending on age and other factors. According to available data, approximately 2.1% of men may have TD, with as few as 1% of younger men and up to 50% of men over 80 years old being affected. It is worth noting that different studies and experts may use different cutoff points for the numbers, leading to variations in reported prevalence rates.
TD is more common among men who are overweight or have diabetes. According to a study, 30% of overweight men have low testosterone levels compared to only 6.4% of men with normal weight. Similarly, another study found that 24.5% of men with diabetes have low testosterone levels compared to 12.6% of men without diabetes.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Males
Low testosterone can have significant impacts on an individual’s physical and emotional health. Here are some common signs and symptoms to look out for:
1) Decreased Muscle Mass
Testosterone plays a critical role in the growth and development of muscles. A decline in testosterone levels can lead to a decrease in muscle size. On the other hand, the study shows1 that although low testosterone levels decrease muscle size, it doesn’t affect muscle functionality and strength.
2) Decreased Bone Mass
Testosterone is also involved in the production of bone tissue and maintaining bone volume. Low testosterone can result in a reduction in bone volume, making bones more susceptible to fractures.
3) Loss of Sex Drive
A decrease in testosterone levels can cause a reduction in sex drive, also known as libido. Men with low testosterone may experience a significant decline in sexual desire and motivation.
4) Low Energy Levels
Low testosterone levels can cause feelings of tiredness, weakness, and lethargy. Individuals may feel tired, even after getting good rest, or lose interest in exercise or physical activities.
5) Impact on Work Performance
Low testosterone can have a significant impact on an individual’s overall well-being, including work performance. Common symptoms of low testosterone, such as difficulty to focus, mood swings, and low energy, can make it challenging to stay productive and focused at work.
If an individual’s work or home life has changed dramatically for the worse, a complete medical examination may be necessary to determine the underlying cause. For example, a blood test can help determine if low testosterone levels are the cause of the symptoms.
6) Increased Body Fat
Low testosterone can cause an increase in body fat. In some cases, it can also cause gynecomastia, which is the enlargement of breasts in males.
7) Decreased Size of Testicles and Penis
Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays a crucial role in the development of the penis and testicles. Low testosterone levels may contribute to a smaller penis or testicle size. However, other conditions and circumstances can also cause a smaller penis or testicles, such as hypogonadism, varicocele, undescended testicles, prostate surgery, Peyronie’s disease, aging, and obesity.
Hypogonadism refers to a condition in which the body does not produce enough hormones, including testosterone. Varicocele is a condition in which the veins in the scrotum become enlarged, potentially leading to testicle shrinkage.
8) Hair Loss
Although hair loss is a natural part of aging, low testosterone levels can also cause hair loss.
Studies2 have suggested that the use of testosterone implants can help in the regrowth of hair among individuals who are undergoing treatment for sex hormone deficiency.
9) Symptoms of Depression
Research indicates3 that low testosterone can contribute to a range of physical and emotional symptoms, including depression, that can affect both men and women. Low testosterone levels in men can lead to changes in mood and mental function, as testosterone has an impact on various physical and cognitive processes in the body.
10) Impact on Memory
With age, both testosterone levels and cognitive function, particularly memory, can decline. This has led some doctors to theorize that lower testosterone levels could contribute to memory issues.
Research studies have investigated the connection between testosterone levels and memory. A review of studies in 2019 found that testosterone supplementation may be linked with a preventive measure against memory loss4 in older men with low testosterone levels, although the effect may be small.
One research study in 2017 investigated the effects of testosterone supplementation on memory in men with low testosterone levels. The study found no improvement in memory among those who took testosterone or a placebo.
Signs of Testosterone Deficiency in Women
Although testosterone is commonly associated with males, females also produce testosterone, and low levels of the hormone can lead to specific symptoms. Here are some low testosterone symptoms in females:
1) Heat sensation
Low testosterone levels can lead to a sensation of heat or warmth in the body, similar to the hot flashes associated with menopause caused by fluctuating estrogen levels.
2) Changes in Menstrual Cycles
Irregular menstrual cycles can be a symptom of low testosterone in females. Low testosterone levels can lead to hormonal imbalances that may cause menstrual cycles to become shorter or longer than the typical 28-day cycle.
3) Decreased vaginal lubrication
Vaginal dryness is a common issue for many women, particularly during and after menopause. It is often caused by low estrogen levels; however, low testosterone levels can also be a contributing factor.
4) Low count of red blood cells
Testosterone has a significant impact on the production of healthy red blood cells. Low testosterone levels can lead to anemia, a blood disorder characterized by a decrease in RBCs, resulting in fatigue.A study conducted in 20065 revealed that older women with low testosterone levels, specifically those over the age of 65, may have an increased risk of anemia due to lower hemoglobin levels.
How to Diagnose Low Testosterone
A healthcare provider can diagnose low testosterone by conducting a physical examination, reviewing your medical history, medications, and symptoms. Blood tests may also be ordered to confirm low testosterone and determine its underlying cause.
While many symptoms may be associated with low testosterone, a total blood testosterone level is the most important indicator of testosterone deficiency. However, your doctor will also consider other specific signs and symptoms in addition to your testosterone blood level to make a diagnosis.
During your medical visit, your doctor will take your health history, conduct an exam, and look for signs and symptoms of low testosterone that have been discussed in this article.
How is Low Testosterone Treated
Treatment options for low testosterone levels include testosterone replacement therapy. Different forms of testosterone replacement therapy include:
- Testosterone skin gels: Applied daily to clean, dry skin.
- Intramuscular testosterone injections: Administered by injection every 1 to 2 weeks, or every 10 weeks for long-acting testosterone.
- Testosterone patches: Applied daily to the skin and rotated to avoid skin reactions.
- Testosterone pellets: Implanted under the skin every three to six months.
- Buccal testosterone tablets: Applied to the gums twice a day.
- Testosterone nasal gel: Applied into each nostril three times a day.
- Oral testosterone: A pill form of testosterone called undecanoate is available for people with low testosterone due to specific medical conditions.
It is important to note that individuals with a history of prostate cancer, an unevaluated lump on the prostate, breast cancer, or uncontrolled heart failure may not be suitable candidates for testosterone replacement therapy. Prostate screening is necessary before starting this therapy.