Testosterone is a hormone found in humans. Men have much higher levels of testosterone than women. Production increases during puberty and starts to decrease after age 30.
For each year over age 30, the level of testosterone in men starts to slowly dip at a rate of around 1 percent per year. A decrease in testosterone level is a natural result of aging.
Testosterone helps maintain a number of important bodily functions in men, including:
Because testosterone affects so many functions, its decrease can bring about significant physical and emotional changes.
Testosterone is the hormone most responsible for sex drives and high libidos in men. A decrease in testosterone can mean a decrease in libido. One of the biggest worries faced by men with declining testosterone levels is the chance that their sexual desire and performance will be affected.
As men age, they can experience a number of symptoms related to sexual function that may be a result of lowered levels of this hormone.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is not commonly caused by low testosterone production. In cases where ED accompanies lower testosterone production, hormone replacement therapy may help your ED.
These side effects typically don’t happen suddenly. If they do, lower testosterone levels may not be the only cause.
A number of physical changes can happen to your body if you have low testosterone levels. Testosterone is sometimes referred to as the “male” hormone. It helps increase muscle mass, leads to body hair, and contributes to an overall masculine form.
Decreases in testosterone can lead to physical changes including the following:
Low testosterone can cause lower energy levels, insomnia and other changes in your sleep patterns.
Testosterone replacement therapy may contribute to or cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that causes your breathing to stop and start repeatedly while you sleep. It can disrupt your sleep pattern in the process and raise your risk for other complications, like having a stroke.
On the other hand, changes in the body that occur as a result of sleep apnea can lead to low testosterone levels.
Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, low testosterone can still contribute to a decrease in the hours of sleep. Researchers aren’t yet sure why this happens.
In addition to causing physical changes, having low levels of testosterone can affect you on an emotional level. The condition can lead to feelings of sadness or depression. Some people have trouble with memory and concentration and experience lowered motivation and self-confidence.
Testosterone is a hormone that affects emotional regulation. Depression has been linked to men with low testosterone. This could result from a combination of the irritability, decreased sex drive, and fatigue that can come with low testosterone.
While each of the symptoms above may be a result of a lowered testosterone level, they may also be normal side effects of aging. Other reasons that you might experience some of these symptoms include:
To determine what’s causing these symptoms for you, schedule an appointment with your doctor
According to a study published in Clinical Endocrinology, the testosterone-level goal for men over 65 is approximately 350–450 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). This is the midpoint of the normal range for the age group.
Regardless of the reason you’re experiencing low testosterone, treatment options are available to increase testosterone or reduce unwanted side effects.
Testosterone therapy can be delivered in several ways:
- injections into the muscle every few weeks
- patches or gels applied to the skin
- a patch that is applied inside the mouth
- pellets that are inserted under the skin of the buttocks
Testosterone therapy is not recommended for those who have experienced or are at a high risk of prostate cancer.
Losing weight and being physically active
Exercising more and losing weight can help slow the decrease of testosterone your body is experiencing.
Erectile dysfunction medication
If your most concerning symptom from lower testosterone is erectile dysfunction, erectile dysfunction medications may help.
If you’re unable to get relief from insomnia using relaxation and natural remedies, sleeping medications may help.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of low testosterone, ask your doctor to test your levels. A diagnosis can be made with a simple blood test, and there are a variety of treatment options to reduce unwanted side effects of low T.
Your doctor can also help you determine if there’s an underlying cause triggering your low testosterone.