10 Facts About Low Testosterone

  • man-and-woman-smiling
    Low testosterone can impact many aspects of a man's life.
    Testosterone is a male hormone (or androgen) produced in the testicles and regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary unit in the brain. During puberty, testosterone helps develop a man's muscles and the size of his genitals. It also deepens his voice. In adulthood, this hormone helps maintain a male's muscles and bones as well as his interest in sex. A low testosterone level (or hypogonadism) can impact many aspects of a man's life.

  • middle-aged-couple-biking
    Fact: Signs and symptoms of low testosterone vary depending on the age it occurs.
    Low testosterone can occur at any age. If it occurs during the fetal stage, it can lead to ambiguous or abnormally developed genitalia.  During adolescence, it can delay the onset of puberty, as well as hamper the growth of the testicles, penis and body hair. Sometimes, a person with low testosterone may appear to have disproportionately longer arms and legs compared with his trunk. In adulthood, it may cause a number of symptoms.

  • frustrated-couple-in-bed
    Fact: Low testosterone can hinder your sex life.
    The pressure and stress you are currently under may not be the only reason for a lack of interest in sex. Experts say low testosterone (or low "T") can be a contributing cause to a decrease in sex drive. It may also play a role in erectile dysfunction. However, other medical issues, like diabetes, can lead to difficulty getting erections, so it is important to discuss this issue with your physician. Also, since testosterone affects sperm count, infertility issues may occur when hypogonadism, a condition where the body does not produce enough testosterone, is present.

  • depressed-tired-man
    Fact: Low T can lead to low energy, difficulty focusing and depression.
    Diminished testosterone can trigger fatigue and difficulty with concentration. Some studies even correlate low testosterone with feelings of depression. When under stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. According to experts, this "stress" hormone makes it difficult for the body to produce testosterone. There are some things you can do to deal with the symptoms of low T. Studies suggest taking deep breaths and participating in yoga to help alleviate stress and boost your mood. Fitness experts say certain yoga poses like "salutation seal" and "tree stand" can help your ability to concentrate.

  • man-in-bathroom-looking-at-mirror
    Fact: Low testosterone can affect your appearance.
    Testosterone plays a critical role in developing muscle bulk. Studies say lack of this male hormone may cause decreased muscle mass and decreased facial hair growth. "Low T" can also lead to increased body fat and over-developed breasts in men.  Following a proper diet and performing a regular exercise routine that includes strength training can help develop and maintain your muscles. Fitness experts say high-intensity interval training, which involves cycles of short bursts followed by rest periods, has been shown to increase testosterone levels.

  • man-lying-in-bed-with-hand-on-forehead
    Fact: If you don't snooze, you may lose ...testosterone.
    Lack of sleep reportedly may contribute to lack of testosterone. Experts say low testosterone can cause disruption in sleep cycles. Disrupted sleep cycles in turn can lead to low testosterone production, creating a vicious cycle.  One study states daytime testosterone levels were decreased by 10% to 15% in a group of healthy young men who were restricted to 5 hours of sleep per night for one week.  Some reports suggest a correlation between sleep apnea and lower testosterone levels. Experts suggest aiming for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

  • Man outdoors holding shoulder in pain
    Fact: Low testosterone = low bone density.
    Testosterone plays a critical role in building bone density. When the levels in the body are depleted, it can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where the bones become brittle and weak. This can put you at risk for fractures. Low testosterone is reportedly a common cause of osteoporosis in men. To help maintain bone mass, experts suggest taking adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D and performing weight-bearing exercises. Balance exercises may also help prevent falls, especially since brittle bones are more at risk for fractures.

  • obese-man's-stomach
    Fact: Low testosterone has been linked to obesity.
    Studies show a link between low testosterone and obesity. Fat tissue contains an enzyme known as aromatase, which converts testosterone into an estrogen component. Excess aromatase activity decreases testosterone and increases estrogen levels, resulting in body changes for men. The good news is low testosterone levels related to obesity reportedly can be improved with weight loss. Following a healthy diet and performing a cardio routine for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, regularly can help address weight issues.

  • man-testing-blood-for-diabetes
    Fact: Health conditions like diabetes can lead to low T.
    It is important to determine the cause of your low testosterone levels. Serious conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes or pituitary and thyroid dysfunctions among others can lead to low levels of this hormone.  Low T levels reportedly can also occur as a result of certain cancers and their treatments like testicular cancer, as well as some medications. Studies also say it can be a result of a man's aging process.

  • blood-vile-test-tube
    Fact: A simple blood test can determine if you have low T.
    Be completely open and discuss with your doctor any signs or symptoms you may be experiencing. The clinical diagnosis of hypogonadism can be made by testing your testosterone levels in your blood two days in a row. Your physician can administer the test.  Experts recommend taking the sample early in the morning between 7 and 10 a.m., which is when the levels are typically at their peak. Your doctor may also want to examine your pituitary function and perform other hormone tests.

  • man-speaking-with-doctor
    Fact: You should weigh the benefits and risks of testosterone therapy.
    If you have low testosterone, discuss treatment options with your physician. There are different testosterone-replacement therapies available. These include injections, gels and patches that can be placed on your skin, or tablets that are placed on your gums. If you are undergoing testosterone therapy, be sure other people do not touch your skin where you applied the testosterone solution.  TRT is not for everyone. Reports state testosterone therapy may be contraindicated with certain conditions including: prostate and breast cancers, uncontrolled congestive heart failure, severe lower-urinary-tract symptoms, and erythrocytosis (increased circulating red blood cells). It's also important to discuss any medications you may be taking with your physician prior to beginning any testosterone therapy.

  • doctor using microscope
    Fact: Risks of testosterone therapy are still being studied.
    Currently the effects of testosterone therapy, particularly on cardiovascular outcomes, are still being investigated.  Reports say there is still uncertainty about the safety of testosterone treatments in men with a history of cardiovascular disease. Some reported risks with testosterone treatment include an increased red blood cell count, breast enlargement, acne, further prostate enlargement, exacerbation of sleep apnea, and fluid buildup in legs and feet. It is recommended that you discuss these risks and benefits with your doctor.

10 Facts About Low Testosterone

About The Author

  1. Deborah Tolmach Sugerman, MSW. (2013). Low Testosterone. JAMA. 310(17):1872. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.28072.
  2. Vigen, Rebecca, MD, MSCS, O’Donnell, Colin I, MS, et.al. (2013). Association of Testosterone Therapy With Mortality, Myocardial Infarction, and Stroke in Men With Low Testosterone Levels. JAMA. 310(17):1829-36. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280386.
  3. Shores MM, Moceri VM, et al. (2005). Low Testorone Levels Predict Incident Depressive Illness In Older Men: Effects of Age and Medical Morbidity. J Clin Psychiatry. 66(1):7-14.; Wahl P1, Mathes S, et.al. (2013).
  4. Acute Metabolic, Hormonal, and Psychological Responses to Different Endurance Training Protocols. Horm Metab Res. 45(11):827-.33 doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1347242.
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Last Review Date: 2019 Mar 22
Explore Low Testosterone
  • You’ve probably seen commercials on TV addressing the symptoms of low testosterone, often called “Low-T”. Testosterone is a hormone responsible for male development, though it’s also present in lesser amounts in women. Produced mainly in the testicles, testosterone plays a role in hair and muscle growth, bone density, libido, sperm production, and red blood cell formation.
    September 30, 2016
  • Testosterone is the defining hormone for boys and men. It's responsible for male traits. Your body starts making testosterone when you're still in the womb. Testosterone production rises until about age 17. Then it starts to slowly fall in middle age. By age 80, your testosterone level will be half of what it once was. However, not having enough testosterone can affect you at any age.
    June 28, 2016
  • There can be bothersome symptoms of low T, but not all men with low T need treatment.
    June 27, 2016
  • The effects of low T are not just part of getting older. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these sexual or non-sexual symptoms.
    June 17, 2016
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