Testosterone is a hormone produced by the human body for both men and women. In men, testosterone is mostly produced in the testicles. Testosterone levels can affect a man’s appearance, voice, and overall sexual development. It stimulates sperm production as well as a man’s sex drive. It also helps to build muscle and increase bone mass. As men age, their testosterone production typically decreases gradually and naturally. However, there are plenty of people who experience a sudden drop in testosterone levels, compared to the average decrease over time.
Low testosterone, also referred to as low T, is diagnosed when levels fall below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). A normal range is typically 300–1000 ng/dL. A blood test called a serum testosterone test is used to determine your level of circulating testosterone. When testosterone decreases more than it should, men can experience a range of symptoms. The signs of low T often start subtly but can eventually affect men severely. These are the signs a man has low T:
1) Low Sex Drive: One of the key roles of testosterone is libido, or sex drive. In aging men with decreasing testosterone, they may experience a decrease in sex drive. In men with low T, the sex drive takes a dramatic decline.
2) Erectile Dysfunction: A sufficient level of testosterone is required for men to achieve and maintain an erection. Testosterone stimulates the receptors in the brain to produce a molecule called nitric oxide, which triggers the chemical reactions necessary for an erection to occur.
3) Low Semen Fluid: Testosterone also aids in the production of semen. If a man notices a decrease in the volume of seminal fluid, this could be a sign of low T.
4) Hair Loss: While most aging men experience gradual hair loss, a man with low T will lose facial and body hair as well as experience male pattern balding.
5) Fatigue: Despite the amount of rest a man may receive, he can still feel decreased energy levels. It can be harder to find the motivation to exercise with low T, which is why many men will experience the next 2 symptoms.
6) Muscle Mass Loss: Testosterone plays a large role in building muscle, but not the strength or function. Low testosterone will make it harder for men to build or sustain their muscle. Weight training is often suggested for men with low T that want to maintain their physique. Otherwise, the following symptom often occurs.
7) Increase of Body Fat: The imbalance between testosterone and estrogen in men can cause them to accumulate body fat, especially in the mid-region.
8) Decreased Bone Mass: Low T can be a factor of osteoporosis (thinning of bone mass).
9) Mood Fluctuations: All of the above symptoms can create feelings of anxiety, irritability, nervousness, mood swings, and a general reduction of well-being in men with low T. Though other factors can contribute to these mood fluctuations, low testosterone alone can cause this emotional distress. In severe cases, low T can contribute to cases of mental health issues such as depression.
If you think you or your partner could be exhibiting signs of low testosterone, explore your urology options with board-certified urologist Dr. Richard Natale at Carolina Urology Partners. Book your appointment with our industry-leading experts today by calling (704) 786-5131.