Testosterone is a hormone. It’s what puts hair on a man’s chest. It’s the force behind his sex drive. During puberty, testosterone helps build a man’s muscles, deepens his voice, and boosts the size of his penis and testes. In adulthood, it keeps a man’s muscles and bones strong and maintains his interest in sex. In short, it’s what makes a man a man (at least physically).
After age 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in testosterone. A decrease in sex drive sometimes accompanies the drop in testosterone, leading many men to mistakenly believe that their loss of interest in sex is simply due to getting older.
Not only can this hormonal drop contribute to erectile dysfunction and ruin the mood for sex, but it can also affect your man’s attitude in general — low testosterone levels can be associated with depressed moods, low energy, motivation, and self-confidence. It can also lead to low bone density, increasing his risks of osteoporosis. Low testosterone can also lead to reduced muscle mass and increased body fat, all of which can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Low Sex Drive
Testosterone plays a key role in libido (sex drive) in both men and women. Men may experience some decline in sex drive as they age. However, someone with low testosterone will likely experience a more drastic drop in his desire to have sex. Low testosterone can also decrease the sex drive in women, along with other factors, such as other hormonal and mood changes. Testosterone is highest in the morning (hence those morning erections) therefore men should have their blood drawn before 9 a.m. — closer to 8 a.m. is even better.
Difficulty Achieving Erection
Testosterone stimulates a man’s sex drive — and it also aids in achieving an erection. Testosterone alone doesn’t cause an erection, but it stimulates receptors in the brain to produce nitric oxide — a molecule that helps triggers an erection. When testosterone levels are too low, a man may have difficulty achieving an erection prior to sex or experience spontaneous erections (for example, during sleep). Other health problems can influence erectile function, so it is important to determine whether low testosterone is causing this symptom.
Low Semen Volume
Testosterone plays a role in the production of semen, which is the milky fluid that aids in the motility of sperm. It’s pretty simple: The more testosterone a man has, the more semen he produces. Men with low testosterone will notice a decrease in the volume of their sperm during ejaculation.
Testosterone plays a role in several body functions, including hair production. Balding is a natural part of aging for many men. However, men with low testosterone may experience a loss of body and facial hair.
Fatigue & Lack of Energy
Men with low testosterone have reported extreme fatigue and a noticeable decrease in energy levels. You might be experiencing symptoms of low testosterone if you are tired all of the time, despite getting plenty of sleep, or if you are finding it harder to get motivated to hit the gym or exercise.
Loss of Muscle Mass
Because testosterone plays a role in the building and strengthening of muscle, men with low testosterone might notice a decrease in both muscle mass and strength. Those who try to reverse the muscle loss through weight training might find it difficult to build or rebuild muscle.
Increase In Body Fat
Men with low testosterone may also experience increases in body fat. In particular, they sometimes develop “gynecomastia”, a condition in which they develop enlarged breasts. Although the reasons behind this are not entirely clear, research suggests that testosterone influences the way your body stores fat.
Decrease In Bone Mass
The thinning of bone mass (osteoporosis) is often thought of as a condition that women experience. However, men with low testosterone can also experience bone loss because testosterone aids in the production and strengthening of bone. Men with low testosterone — especially older men who have had low testosterone for years — are more susceptible to bone fractures.
Treatments for Low Testosterone
For most men with symptoms, low testosterone is easy to treat, and in most cases, medication can boost testosterone back into normal range and improve many of his symptoms.