A 2008 report of ABC (1) news mentioned that every 1 man out of 4 over the age of 30 suffer from low testosterone levels.
But interestingly, only 1 out of 20 showed some clinical symptoms of the deficiency. Clearly, everyone wasn’t getting equally affected by low T.
So, what’s the standard level that doesn’t need any medication or cure? Well, anything between 300 – 1,100 (ng/dL) (nanogram/decilitre) of total testosterone and at least 5 ng/dL of free testosterone qualifies as an optimum testosterone level.
As you may know, testosterone deficiency is linked to low sex drive, lack of energy, erectile dysfunction, and even osteoporosis. But here’s a catch. All these problems are linked to a host of other hormone secretions as well.
So, to clear out the confusion, today we’re going to talk about some of the warning signs of low testosterone. Let’s start with the note that a low T isn’t synonymous with TRT.
Watch out for these warning signs.
Low sex drive
We’d suggest not to get into overthinking if your sex drive hasn’t been too high lately. But if there’s a sudden drop in your desire to have sex, maybe the testosterone levels in the body are below average. This is one of the most straightforward symptoms of having low T levels, although not a definite one.
In other words, a low sex drive also has to do with mental health, stress, and other hormonal secretions because of these issues. For instance, depression (2) can be a significant factor behind not feeling that warmth and will to cuddle up with your partner. So, watching out for pending psychological issues is also very important, and low T may not always be the culprit.
Low semen volume
Even more than a low sex drive, this symptom qualifies to be a more severe sign of lower T levels. For those that don’t know, semen isn’t synonymous with sperm, but it’s the milky fluid that secretes before ejaculation to aid the sperm’s mobility. Men with low T will observe a decrease in their semen levels post-ejaculation, but there comes a chance of confusing it with low sperm count (3).
So, it’s advisable to check with your doctor and find the actual levels of semen and sperm instead of random guessing.
Erections become a fuss!
Well, having proper erections and maintaining them will face a tough challenge if you suffer from low T. There are a heck lot of reasons behind loose erections or not having them at all, but we’ll deal with its relation with low T first.
Contrary to the myths, testosterone isn’t directly responsible for erections. Instead, an optimum T level hits specific receptors in the brain, which results in the production of nitric oxide. As nitric oxide induces a series of chain reactions in the body, it’s one of the key elements responsible for an erection before sex or to have spontaneous erections (during sleep). This entire bubble of reactions finally helps you have an erection.
So, people with low T will face difficulty in maintaining erections due to less production of nitric oxide. Then again, it’d be wrong to self-diagnose this problem and conclude you’re suffering from lower than normal testosterone levels, as there are several other factors responsible as well.
A study (4) proved that close to half of the people suffering from erection difficulties showed no improvement with TRT. So, we have reasons to believe this isn’t the sole contributing factor, and some of the most common ailments showing this symptom are:
- Thyroid problems
- Performance Anxiety
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Alcohol abuse
- High Blood Pressure
The thing is, our body is one large repository of chemical reactions that also get affected by our surrounding environments. So, even if your body’s suffering from low T, it may not be small enough to give you a hard time having or maintaining erections. But that little lack may be causing some other problem that prevents the necessary chemical reactions for an erection. Got the point?
If you feel a sudden decrease in your energy levels or extreme fatigue to perform the basic life tasks, it’s a tell-tale sign of low T. People who have testosterone levels below 250 ng/dL may feel tired all the time despite getting plenty of sleep. Or they may also find it difficult to get themselves motivated for different tasks, as well as face difficulty concentrating.
Lack of focus is one of the significant symptoms for low T levels, although GAD is also symptomatic of the same. However, fatigue, lack of focus, a low sex drive, all combined points towards lower testosterone levels.
Sleep disorder or Insomnia
In 2011, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) published a report (5) which demonstrated a link between sleeping patterns and testosterone levels in the body. 10 men volunteered for the experiment, and within the testing week, they were allowed less than 5 hours of sleep. All the 10 men showed about a 10 – 15% decrease in their daytime testosterone levels, apart from fatigue and restlessness.
Moreover, a chronic breathing disturbance during sleeping, called sleep apnea, is linked with low T. So, yeah, the patterns and correlations are too straightforward to ignore. Thus, if you’re facing a consistent lack of sleep or a combination of fatigue and sleep-deprivation, it’s time to have a thorough endocrine check-up.
Losing muscle mass
Well, don’t confuse this with decreasing strength or muscle function. Muscle mass is the measurement of the weight of the muscles in your body, and it doesn’t have a direct correlation with strength. Testosterone is the primary male hormone responsible for building muscles, and with its low secretion, you’ll notice a gradual decrease in the overall muscle size of the body.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that you may not ‘feel’ any major change in any of your physiological activities due to decreasing muscle mass. You gotta observe and find it, and a doctor will help you with that. Increase Muscles by using these testosterone boosters.
Well, not much has been proven about this theory that claims a link between memory loss and low T. But in various universities (6) and medical institutions, the betterment of verbal and spatial memory has been linked (7) to increasing testosterone levels in the body.
In an experiment conducted at the University of Washington, 11 men between the age of 50 to 70 were divided into 2 groups. One group was given a testosterone enanthate and the other, a simple placebo pill with no actual effect. Before the test, experimenters went through some memory and brain development tests, which were repeated after a week of medication.
The testosterone-induced group showed significant improvement in the spatial memory tests, although no changes were noticed in the areas of attention, language, and other behavioral practices. Like the proven connection between memory and estrogen (8) in women, we have reasons to believe the same for men as well.
Smaller testicle size and low blood count
New research (9) suggests that a low blood count is related to a decrease in testosterone amounts in the body. While low blood count isn’t always synonymous with anemia, you might feel a bit of dizziness throughout the day, or get tired quickly after a bit of manual labor. That’s because the red blood cells are unable to carry much oxygen because of their crescent moon shapes, a typical characteristic of anemia-affected blood (10).
This usually happens with older adults whose enzyme secretion centers (pituitary, hypothalamus) deplete with time, leading to a host of problems, one of which is low T secretion.
And talking about smaller testicle size, this isn’t just because one may have lower hormone secretions. But someone with low T has a higher chance of getting less-than-average sized testicles. That’s because this hormone in men is responsible for the development of the primary sexual organs, the penis, and the testicles.
Due to lower-than-normal amounts of the hormone present in the body, one may end up with a disproportionately smaller penis. But as there are many other reasons to affect the penis and testicle (11) sizes, it’s not always a sign of your testosterone waning away.
Hypogonadism: the most significant warning and a severe threat!
Well, if you’re looking for signs of low T, you must have come across the term ‘Hypogonadism’ at least once. It’s a condition that prevents the splurge of testosterone in a male body as a result of which the identifying male organs (not just the sexual organs but voice, muscle mass, body, and facial hair) do not grow to their normal levels.
And contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t just affect older people, but it could happen to any biological male right from the fetal stage. With different stages in the life of a male, the symptoms differ, and for an extensive report on the detailed effects of the disorder, you can click here (12).
Treatment procedures for Low Testosterone
Well, to have a precise diagnosis that you suffer from a lack of the ‘manly’ hormone in your body is quite a task. For that, you gotta be aware of your entire medical history, whether you have taken any psychiatric drugs previously, any pending psychological issue, and rule them all out.
Sure, you can’t do it on your own, and only a series of tests apart from an experienced urologist can ascertain testosterone to be the culprit behind your deteriorating health. Once you’re diagnosed, there are certain kinds of treatments available whose efficiency and long-term benefits are still under scrutiny. However, if taken in the proper dosage and over a brief span of time, they prove to be quite efficient.
Skin patch: It’s usually applied once a day unless prescribed otherwise. This is a clean and easy-to-use transdermal remedy for low T.
Gel: A bit more complicated than the skin patches out there as it’s difficult to determine what’s the exact amount of gel that you are rubbing on your skin. The gel gets absorbed through the skin and is supposed to affect the overall testosterone secretion.
Injections: As the name suggests, doctors inject testosterone directly into your body through intravenous injections.
Foods: Some foods help in boosting testosterone levels too. Click here for details.
Does it work?
Well, this is a question that has raised ripples in various medical associations with equally convincing research and arguments on both sides.
However, it doesn’t take an expert to understand that all these treatment procedures (collectively known as Testosterone Replacement Therapy) focus on raising the levels of that specific hormone. Because testicles are the production powerhouses of the hormone, its artificial supply from outside is bound to make them lazy (13).
That’s why people are still skeptical (14) about it.
Nature shows the way…
We would like to end this piece with an often forgotten piece of wisdom: our bodies are a product of some billion years of evolution. They have carved out from the bottomless pits of knowledge, much of which is still foreign to science and technology.
Therefore, before starting to tamper with this hormone or that, maybe we could try leading a healthier and active lifestyle. Well, that includes some positive habits, quitting smoking altogether, and a lot of sleep. Trust us, a LOT!
We shouldn’t forget we’re living in a sleep-deprived world, and we also tend to underestimate the potential of waking up early and going for a walk. It’s the remedy of almost all diseases, mental and physical.