Many men will not initially be aware of or notice any symptoms of low testosterone. However, middle-aged spread, lack of motivation, and even a drop-in libido may be signs of 'just getting older.' When you look at the list of symptoms of testosterone deficiency, it may surprise you that this is actually a medical issue.
- Low sex drive
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Reduced lean muscle mass
- Weight gain
- Poor sleep
- Erectile dysfunction
Declining testosterone levels can cause men problems which are often blamed on middle age. But what are the main symptoms of low testosterone, and why is this happening?
Testosterone is a hormone produced primarily by men in their testicles. This hormone plays an important role in male development. Testosterone kickstarts sexual development and maintains healthy sexual function. It also promotes muscle mass and, along with your thyroid, regulates your metabolism.
It is normal after about 30 for a guy's hormone levels slowly decline, typically between 1-2% every year. The decline is usually slow unless other health issues are a factor, such as obesity - one of the major causes of reduced testosterone levels in men. Some younger men have low testosterone levels caused by injury, lifestyle or medical issues, which is called Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (TD) or Low Testosterone (Low-T).
What are the Main Symptoms of Low Testosterone Levels?
A Drop in Energy
A marked drop in energy is very common in men with falling testosterone levels. Not having the energy or inclination to exercise, feeling tired all the time, and lacking motivation are all symptoms. If this doesn't improve with rest and enough sleep, you may have a problem. In turn, this can make sleep patterns even more disrupted. The good news is with the proper treatment - you can correct your testosterone levels and regain control.
Poor sleep is one of the common symptoms of low testosterone. Unfortunately, sleep disturbance causes testosterone levels to decrease further. Low testosterone can cause insomnia and disrupt sleep because of how it interacts with others hormones in the body. So it's a bit like a double-edged sword.
The question of whether low testosterone causes poor sleep is answered simply as no. A lack of sleep causes testosterone levels to decline, and the lack of testosterone then can cause problems.
In one study (Rachel Leproult, Ph.D, and Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D.), they took a group of ten healthy young men with an average age of 24.3. In the first week, they slept eight hours each night in their own homes. They then had three nights of 10-hour sleep followed by eight nights of 5-hour sleep in a sleep laboratory setting.
The results were startling - their testosterone levels had decreased between 10 and 15% compared to previous levels. They also noticed (rather unsurprisingly) that their energy (vigor) levels had significantly reduced.
Another critical factor is that stress increases when you're not getting enough sleep. Stress causes the release of other hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones are what make you feel anxious and on edge. If these levels are always high, this diminishes testosterone production - not a great combination for a good night's sleep.
Memory Fog, Lack of Focus and Concentration
When one thinks about memory or mental function, falling testosterone levels don't usually come to mind. Yet, when we get older, our minds are not as sharp as they were. How many senior moments have you had lately?
It is no coincidence that mental functions may also slow down when testosterone levels begin to decline. Many sufferers of low testosterone levels report that after starting therapy, it is like a fog lifting. Cognitive ability becomes much sharper, and they have improved memory and a better ability to work out problems.
Ultimately testosterone plays a significant role in mental agility. Testosterone affects your ability to perform daily tasks to the best of your ability.
Lack of Libido and Erection Problems
Testosterone is commonly called the sex hormone, and any deficiency can impact libido. For many men, low testosterone is like being in a sports car, running low on gas, and going nowhere fast. It's not only a lack of desire low testosterone can cause, other issues like erectile dysfunction and low satisfaction are common.
Testosterone isn't an exclusive fuel for your libido, but if low, it can reduce desire and the ability to have a satisfying sex life. Defining a normal sex drive is not easy. If a man sees himself as having a low sex drive, his partner may disagree and vice versa. It is also normal for a man's drive to peak and decline from his mid-twenties. What one man thinks is normal compared to another varies. Stress, sleep, and availability all affect sexual desire.
Falling testosterone levels won't always kill your libido. Some will have the same desires even with deficient testosterone levels. For others, libido can be non-existent with relatively normal levels. The fact remains that nearly all men will experience a decline in sex drive when levels are very low.
Pinpointing exactly how testosterone affects sexual function is next to impossible. Falling testosterone can create depression, weight gain, poor sleep, low energy, and other symptoms. All significantly impact a man's ability to perform in the bedroom. With an effective treatment plan, our HRT specialist can reverse many symptoms of low testosterone. Often resulting in improved sexual desire, performance, and satisfaction.
Testosterone and thyroid function power the metabolism. If either of these is out of balance, you won't have the ability you had in your younger life to burn excessive fat. There is no coincidence that as your testosterone levels decline, your waist may expand.
In young, healthy men, testosterone and thyroid work together as the perfect aid for weight loss. Testosterone builds muscle mass, increases insulin sensitivity and maintains metabolic health. All aiding the ability to burn fat.
When you age, this perfect fat-burning system deteriorates due to reduced available testosterone levels. Added to this, in some cases, a lack of thyroid function or both. Unfortunately, this means your body can't deal with fat (especially visceral fat) in the same way, leading to middle-age spread.
As you can see, this system is essential, but once it is faulty, it is tough to fix without help. As fat deposits increase, your testosterone production will decrease, contributing to insulin resistance. So now, instead of your body burning carbs, you store them as fat. Being overweight impairs testosterone production making it more difficult to increase lean muscle. The vicious circle continues.
The main point is that optimum testosterone is vital for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. There is a healthy balance between muscle and fat at which you will look and feel your best. Testosterone therapy is not the ultimate "fix-all." Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are also vital for testosterone production. But testosterone replacement therapy and thyroid medication can ensure both work together.
When your hormones are in balance, your body can function at its best, increase lean muscle mass, and battle the excess bulge. All of which reduce the symptoms of low testosterone.
Inability to Gain Muscle
Muscle loss (wasting) is one of the most widely known symptoms of low testosterone levels. A precursor to this symptom is often feeling weaker, tired, and generally lacking energy. Muscle cells contain androgen receptors that are sensitive to testosterone. When these receptors bind with testosterone, they maintain lean muscle mass. When testosterone levels drop, this process stops, and muscles weaken.
To make matters worse low levels also increase fat deposits, slowing testosterone production. Fat cells promote an enzyme called aromatase which converts testosterone to estradiol. Why is making estradiol from fat bad? Estradiol from fat slows testosterone production, dropping testosterone levels more.
That is why obese men have so many problems. In this case, it is not the estradiol causing the issues. It is fat. Estradiol is simply an innocent bystander that happens to knock down your testosterone.
What Can You Do If You Have Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
The good news is that a solution is now available to men who want to stop the decline in testosterone levels and reach their peak again. Testosterone replacement therapy was only available to guys with low T a few years back. Now it's available for men wishing to achieve optimum levels. By maintaining optimal levels, it's possible to reduce symptoms of low testosterone.
You can increase levels a little through exercise and healthy living, but for many, this may not be enough to ease symptoms of low testosterone. Indeed, if you are overweight, losing excess fat will help with general health and testosterone production. But as discussed before, once this cycle of falling hormone levels has started, it isn't easy to reverse without help.
With an evidence-based approach, Male Excel's HRT specialists look at all your symptoms. Also, using a simple blood spot test that can diagnose exactly what is wrong. From there, we can design a bespoke treatment plan looking at testosterone and thyroid levels to get you back to where you should be.
Adding testosterone therapy allows you to lose weight and gain muscle more efficiently. It will also help with energy levels, improve libido and sexual function, and put the spring back in your step.