Low Testosterone Symptoms In Men: What Are The Side Effects?

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Low Testosterone Symptoms In Men: What Are The Side Effects?
Muscular man with a syringe in his hand and testosterone formula. Concept of a strength workout and anabolic steroids usage.

Hormones play important roles in how the body functions. These chemical messengers travel through your blood to different body parts to induce different reactions. Disruption in the amount or quantity of these hormones could have devastating consequences. You can increase testostosterone levels in your body with natural testosterone booster & eat foods that boost testosterone.

Androgen is a category of male hormones, of which testosterone is one. Testosterone is responsible for most of a man’s sexual development and function. While the hormone is present in men and women, it is more in men. Its production peaks around puberty and decreases once a man is 30. The decrease is usually at a rate of 1% each year, which is normal and doesn’t pose any complications. If you have doubts about that, do testosterone boosters work? You can use some of the best natural testosterone boosters.

Testosterone plays a vital role in several critical bodily functions and processes. These include sex drive and sexual function, muscle mass and strength, sperm and red blood cell production, bone density, and fat distribution. With such a critical role, an unusual level dip causes some significant problems.

Some other questions may be: does working out increase testosterone? Or Is it beneficial for testosterone therapy? Or even what is the average testosterone level by age in humans? These questions are all answered.

This article looks at the importance of testosterone, the effects of low testosterone in men, and what causes the dip. In addition, it discusses solutions such as testosterone replacement therapy.

What Is Testosterone?

Testosterone is a hormone present in human beings and other animals. In human beings, men have higher levels of testosterone than women. Testosterone production occurs primarily in a man’s testicles and a woman’s ovaries but at a low rate. Once a male human reaches puberty, they’ll produce plenty of testosterone. This production will remain steady until they hit 30, then it declines.

Testosterone helps maintain your sex drive and is vital in sperm production. Additionally, it’s involved in other physiological and psychological functions, such as red blood cell production and your mood. Therefore, it makes sense to consider testosterone a significant contributor to a man’s virility and vitality.

Testosterone At Different Stages Of Life 

While testosterone is present in both men and women, let us focus on men and testosterone’s role in their lives. As mentioned, testosterone production begins at puberty and continues steadily until the man hits 30. Production then gradually begins to decline at a rate of 1% per year. This has effects, usually subtle, such as a gradual loss of muscle strength and bone density. You may also feel a decreased sex drive.

Furthermore, you may experience memory loss, a loss of interest in certain fun aspects of your life, and a poor mood. As production continues to decline, you may experience impotence and cognitive dysfunctions.

Low testosterone levels as one age can also cause reduced muscle mass. At the same time, you may notice an increased fat mass and abdominal obesity. This will affect your physique and further influence your desire for sex. There will also be a loss of elasticity and thinning of the skin. This, combined with a loss of bone mass,  makes a man look physically old. You may also have movement-related issues.

You’ll notice that these symptoms will increase over time, indicating that a man is getting old. Some even experience hot flashes, similar to what women experience during menopause. That explains why men are said to undergo andropause, the counterpart to menopause. All these changes are regular and a part of life. Therefore, you’ll need to accept and live with them as best as possible.

Variations

It’s important to note that low testosterone is not uniform in all men. Some experience a dip much earlier and begin to show symptoms accordingly. These symptoms of low testosterone also vary. Some men preserve their vitality and virility well into their twilight years, while others lose it much younger.

Despite these variations, a dip in testosterone levels more than the acceptable 1% per year after 30 should not be ignored. It may also require some medical intervention.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

A gradual reduction of the male sex hormone in the body will reveal most symptoms on our list. However, an unhealthy depletion and reduction will exaggerate these symptoms.

Let us look at the signs and symptoms of low testosterone in detail.

  • Low Sex Drive

The male sex hormone, testosterone, is in charge of libido. It’s possible to experience a decline in your sex drive when there is a dip in its levels. However, this is not common in healthy males. So, you should worry if you find you have a significantly low sexual drive.

  • Decreased Muscle Mass

Low testosterone levels result in muscle wasting, which is when your muscles lose bulk and strength. You may not visibly see these signs and symptoms, but you will feel a difference in how your muscles work. An example is how you’ll find weights you used to lift suddenly seeming too heavy. Additionally, you’ll stop moving as fast as before. Since testosterone helps your muscle cells retain their fibers’ strength, low testosterone results in such wasting.

  • Increased Body Fat

Low testosterone level is common in men with increased body fat. While you are likely to gain weight as you age and move less, low testosterone accelerates the process. Studies show that obese individuals tend to have lower than normal testosterone levels. Significant weight gain affects your overall health, leading to an even lower testosterone level. Therefore, you’ll end up in this vicious cycle that leads to other health problems unless you start losing weight.

  • Erectile Dysfunction

Testosterone deficiency leads to difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection. This sex hormone tells the brain to produce nitric oxide, a chemical that begins the process of achieving an erection. Low testosterone levels inhibit such communication with the brain, making it hard to get an erection. Additionally, erectile dysfunction makes it hard to have spontaneous sex.

  • Hair Loss

Low testosterone affects your hairline since it is involved in hair production. While balding is a natural part of aging, those with low testosterone levels will experience it much earlier. Therefore, they will lose facial hair, with others losing body hair.

  • Mood Swings

While most physical testosterone deficiency symptoms are evident, mental changes may not be so apparent. Low testosterone levels combined with high cortisol levels lead to feelings of anger, hostility, anxiety, and overall irritability. On the other hand, you may also experience depression, which further worsens your mood.

  • Hot Flashes

These hot flashes will be similar to what women experience. Therefore, you’ll notice a warm sensation that comes on suddenly, reddening of the skin, and heavy sweating. These symptoms will last for a few minutes, followed by a cold sweat. What’s frustrating about this symptom of low testosterone level is its irregularity. Some people may experience it several times a day, while others will feel it more frequently. There are also reports of individuals experiencing them up to ten times a day.

  • Memory Impairment

Low testosterone levels can lead to memory issues, often called brain fog. Memory impairment is often seen as difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly, and remembering things. You’ll find it hard to pick the right words, bump into objects more than usual, and have depth perception challenges. You’ll also find it hard to organize and stick to a schedule. Furthermore, you may become easily irritable when you realize how these simple things have become problematic.

  • Low Blood Counts

Low testosterone levels put you at risk of anemia. You may notice difficulty concentrating, leg cramps, a rapid heart rate, difficulty sleeping, or dizziness. While these may indicate something else, that combination also shows a low blood count.

  • Fatigue

Low testosterone usually causes a decline in energy levels. Therefore, if you’re constantly tired despite getting plenty of rest, check to see if your testosterone levels are normal. The same applies if you find it mentally taxing getting to exercise.

  • Decreased Penis and Testicle Size

Testosterone is vital in the growth and maintenance of penis and testicle size. Low testosterone leads to a disproportionately smaller penis and testicle and a softer than usual scrotum.

  • Decreased Bone Mass

Osteoporosis, the thinning of bones, is usually common among women. Testosterone is a vital component in bone tissue development and bone volume maintenance. Therefore, a significant loss of testosterone in men will also lead to decreased bone mass.

Causes Of Low Testosterone In Men

While you can expect decreasing testosterone levels as you age, a faster than usual decrease should be alarming. Testosterone levels fall because of these conditions:

  • Diabetes

There is a link between low testosterone and diabetes, where diabetes is likely to affect testosterone production. Similarly, low testosterone makes you susceptible to having diabetes later on. This condition occurs due to insulin resistance prevalent in men with low testosterone. Insulin resistance forces your body to produce more insulin to keep blood sugar at normal levels. Random tests on diabetic men indicate they have low testosterone. Therefore, low testosterone and diabetes will continue to facilitate each other. Research is ongoing to establish which one causes the other, but as of now, this remains a worrying trend.

  • Testicle Injury

Testicular trauma, injuries, and such incidents can lead to low testosterone levels and thus lead to male hypogonadism. Men have two testicles that produce sperm and testosterone. These are protected inside the scrotal sac, a thick, tough skin layer. Excessive rubbing, blunt force, sharp force, or an infection can lead to the testicle unit getting damaged. Alternatively, the injury or infection can block the blood supply to the organs, leading to their malfunction. No matter the cause, an interruption of normal testicular function will reduce or stop testosterone production.

  • Radiation and Chemotherapy

Cancer diminishes life’s quality. Think of what prostate cancer does to a man and his perception of identity and worth. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Research shows that cancer treatment through radiation and chemotherapy causes a significant decline in testosterone levels. Prostate cancer and other cancer survivors may feel fatigued, lose interest in sex, or not perform as before. The situation is worse, especially for those with prostate cancer as the radiation treatment focused on their testosterone production region.

  • Obesity

Obesity and low testosterone are also a combination of conditions that feed off each other. This condition leads to low testosterone levels when fat cells metabolize testosterone to estrogen, thus lowering the levels. Similarly, low testosterone creates a conducive environment for one to gain more weight.

  • Pituitary Gland Tumors

A tumor near the pituitary gland in the brain can cause diminished production of testosterone and other hormones. Additionally, a tumor pressing on the pituitary gland may cause excess hormone production, indirectly leading to lowered testosterone production.

  • Sleep Apnea

This is a sleep disorder in which your breathing is repeatedly interrupted. As a result, your sleep pattern will include short naps pieced together instead of one long stint. While you may appear asleep, your body will constantly wake up and then fall asleep, which is not good. During sleep, your body replenishes its hormone levels, including testosterone. Interruptions hinder adequate replenishment, leading to low testosterone levels.

  • Liver Disease

Advanced liver disease causes testosterone levels in men to drop significantly. As the disease progresses, so does the drop in testosterone levels. Liver cirrhosis patients could lose more than 90% of their testosterone. Low testosterone levels further advance liver disease since the body is not as strong as before.

  • Steroids

Using steroids can inhibit the normal hormone production processes in the body, resulting in low testosterone levels. Other side effects of steroid use include low sperm production, decreased testes function, and shrinking of the testes. Such adverse effects on testosterone production centre further lower testosterone levels.

When Should One Get Tested for Low Testosterone?

Generally, testosterone ensures a man has normal amounts of body hair, muscle mass, and strength. Therefore, a simple way to tell if you need a testosterone level test is when you notice a decline in those traits.

The normal quantity of testosterone in a man is 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). This level may fluctuate, but the rate shouldn’t be extreme. In addition, this level will begin to decline at a 1-2% rate per year once a man reaches 30. Any reduction greater than this percentage range should worry you. Note that obese individuals will experience a significant drop no matter their age.

Therefore, you need to get tested when you notice any of the symptoms mentioned. Men under 40 should especially be on the lookout for such symptoms. A rapid decline will have adverse effects on the rest of their lives. Early testing and intervention are necessary to preserve their quality of life.

The Testing Process

You’ll need a blood test to diagnose low testosterone. For the best results, you should take the test in the morning when your testosterone levels are highest. A confirmatory test may be necessary for accuracy.

It is normal for the doctor to ask you to stop taking certain medications and other substances that could influence your normal testosterone levels. These include steroids, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, opiates, and androgen or estrogen therapies.

Besides the blood test, your doctor may need to perform a physical examination, depending on which symptoms you display. These include abnormal weight gain, height loss, facial hair loss, and an unusual increase in breast tissue size.

It’s important to be prepared for results indicating high testosterone levels, which is no better. Understandably, most men are concerned about low testosterone levels, forgetting they may have the opposite condition. Therefore, brace yourself for that eventuality as well.

Treating Low Testosterone

Your doctor will recommend testosterone treatment therapy only when the blood tests reveal a low testosterone level and you exhibit symptoms of low testosterone. These symptoms are discussed in detail in the relevant section. Several individuals can have low testosterone but none of the associated symptoms.

In addition, it’s possible to address some of the causes of low testosterone without testosterone treatment therapy. Examples include obesity or steroid use. Therefore, your doctor will help you through a weight loss program, which should normalize your testosterone levels. Otherwise, here is the best treatment your doctor will recommend: testosterone replacement therapy.

Testosterone replacement therapy is an efficient way to correct a low testosterone situation in men. This therapy has successfully reversed some of the symptoms of low testosterone. People who underwent this treatment have stronger muscles and denser bones, improved libido, diminished cases of erectile dysfunction, and better mood. Remember, though, that different individuals exhibit varying degrees of success from testosterone replacement therapy. Therefore, your doctor should thoroughly review your case before prescribing any testosterone replacement therapy option. Below are some of the options for testosterone replacement therapy.

  1. Testosterone Injections

Isolated testosterone is placed in the syringe, and you either inject yourself, or a doctor does it for you. This testosterone replacement therapy solution is the least expensive but the most painful. You’ll need to get several injections weekly, where you’ll notice crests and troughs in your testosterone levels.

Perhaps the pain involved in what may be a lifetime treatment would make a person choose another solution. Therefore, those whose cause of low testosterone is treatable should consider testosterone injections. Once their condition is healed, such as cancer, and the body starts producing an acceptable testosterone level, injections will not be necessary.

It’s also important to point out that you’ll need consistency for this type of therapy. Typically, you can expect to regain your libido within six weeks of injections. Such progress should not make you think you are in the clear. Other parts of your body and mind need this testosterone therapy. Therefore, follow your doctor’s advice and remain patient and disciplined.

  1. Testosterone Gels and Patches 

This form of testosterone replacement therapy is one of the most convenient. There is no pain from using the gels and patches. You only need to place the patch on your skin or apply the gel. The supplemental testosterone will then seep through your skin, thus the simplicity and convenience of this solution. In addition, this solution helps you keep a steady testosterone level.

However, you may experience itching and skin irritation at the contact point. Additionally, this solution can cause others who come into contact with you to suffer the side effects. It is why children and women should never touch their skin when they’re using a gel or patch. Kids may experience early-onset puberty. Similarly, women may suffer acne or unusual hair growth. Therefore, you need to be mindful of their presence and practice some restraint to keep them safe.

  1. Testosterone Tablets

Tablets are one of the best forms of testosterone supplementation. These tablets are placed in your mouth between your gums and cheeks. Over time, the pills will dissolve, thus releasing testosterone into your body. This testosterone replacement therapy option is simple to use. However, you may experience sensitive gums, a bitter taste, and headaches.

The good news is those effects tend to subside as the therapy progresses. In addition, you won’t have to worry about coming into contact with women and kids. You can perform your normal activities without transferring any side effects to them.

Risks Of Testosterone Replacement Therapy

While testosterone therapy may be the best solution for low testosterone levels, it is not without risks. Mild forms of side effects from testosterone therapy include itching and skin irritation for topical application. The oral application can lead to mouth cavity sensitivity and a bitter taste. Let us look at the severe side effects and risks of testosterone therapy. Testosterone boosters might also have side effects of testosterone.

  • Prostate Cancer

Testosterone can increase your risk of prostate cancer, which accelerates the cancerous prostate’s growth. Therefore, you need to screen for and treat prostate cancer before starting testosterone therapy. If you find you’re at risk of prostate cancer or have elevated prostate-specific antigen, you’d better avoid this therapy.

  • Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy

The prostate grows at a standard rate as long as your testosterone levels are within a normal range. However, some men’s prostates can grow more prominent than usual, squeezing the urethra, leading to difficulty urinating. Testosterone therapy can make things worse by hypertrophying the prostate even further.

  • Sleep Apnea

While this risk factor is one of the causes of low testosterone levels, testosterone therapy could also cause sleep apnea. Increasing testosterone levels could cause changes to the airways, physiologic response to hypoxia and hypercapnia, and metabolic requirements.

  • Polycythaemia

Polycythaemia is testosterone replacement therapy’s most common side effect, leading to adverse vascular events. The condition is marked by having an unusually high amount of red blood cells in your body. Such a high amount of red blood cells thickens your blood, making movement through blood vessels and organs difficult. Symptoms of polycythemia include high blood pressure, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, and red skin. Therefore, you must consult your doctor immediately if you notice these symptoms.

  • Acne

Testosterone facilitates sebum production, an oily, waxy substance that moisturizes, coats, and protects your skin. T level increments lead to an overproduction of sebum, which can cause an inflammation of the sebaceous glands. The result is an acne outbreak.

Who Should Avoid Testosterone Replacement Therapy?

Testosterone replacement therapy may prove deadly to specific individuals. The first concern is how testosterone causes the prostate to grow. Therefore, if a person has early-onset prostate cancer, elevating testosterone levels will cause that cancerous prostate to grow. Such growth will make an already dangerous situation worse. This risk is why any man who wishes to start testosterone replacement therapy needs a thorough prostate cancer screening.

The same caution should be exercised by those with an enlarged prostate that causes urinary tract complications. Such include difficulty passing urine. In addition, anyone with a lump in their prostate that hasn’t been thoroughly examined yet shouldn’t start testosterone replacement therapy.

You need to avoid this therapy if you have a higher-than-normal number of red blood cells. Testosterone leads to increased production of these cells. This results in thick blood that can’t efficiently move through blood vessels.

Furthermore, those with untreated obstructive sleep apnea should avoid this therapy. During its course, this therapy will aggravate the condition, which can prove deadly.

While it’s uncommon, there are cases of men with breast cancer who should also avoid this therapy. Testosterone’s effect on this cancer is similar to prostate cancer, where it will accelerate its growth and spread.

Conclusion: Symptoms of Low Testosterone Levels In Men

Low testosterone levels in men are worrying, more so when the decrease is unnatural. Men usually produce testosterone steadily once they hit puberty. Production starts to decline when they reach 30, at a rate of 1-2% annually. Any decline higher than this necessitates investigating the cause and applying the correct remedy. Testosterone replacement therapy is the best solution if done right. There are risks associated with the therapy, depending on what caused the decline, individual body conditions, and hormone reactions. This article discussed everything you need to know about testosterone replacement therapy to prepare you well for the journey.

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