Low testosterone levels can manifest themselves in different ways, and sometimes the signs can be subtle and easily missed. Although male testosterone levels naturally drop with age, in some cases they can drop to abnormally low levels which affect physical health and quality of life. Here are some of the most common signs of testosterone deficiency.
A low sex drive
A reduced desire to have sex is one of the most common and noticeable signs of low testosterone. This is because it is the primary male sex hormone and plays a huge role in sperm production and libido levels.
Difficulty getting an erection
Even if the desire to have sex is there, many men with low testosterone have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, referred to by the medical term erectile dysfunction (ED). However, it is important to note that there are multiple physical and psychological causes of ED, so it’s always best to discuss the problem with a doctor.
Men with low testosterone levels are more prone to gaining extra body fat, especially around the belly. This is due to extra oestrogen in the body, which may also cause gynecomastia, or ‘man boobs.’
Loss of muscle and bone mass
Testosterone plays an important role in building and strengthening bones and muscles. Men with low levels of testosterone may find that they lose muscle mass and bone volume, and may suffer broken bones and fractures more easily.
Increased anxiety and depression
Testosterone influences mood, and one side effect of low levels is an increased tendency to anxiety and depression or mood swings. There is also evidence that depression decreases the body’s ability to produce testosterone, so this can feed the cycle.
Testosterone is linked to healthy hair growth, so thinning hair may be a sign that levels are low. It may also be a hereditary condition called male pattern baldness, which affects about half of all men over the age of 50.
Low testosterone can deplete energy levels, resulting in chronic fatigue or feeling unusually tired out by everyday activities. This may result in giving up on hobbies or exercise routines, or needing to take extra naps during the daytime.
Testosterone plays a role in cognitive function because it is linked to certain receptors in the brain. Therefore, men with low testosterone levels may experience problems with recalling information and thinking logically.
Men with low testosterone may be at increased risk of anaemia, which occurs when there are not enough red blood cells in the body. The main symptoms include tiredness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and dizziness.
Men with low testosterone may experience hot flushes and night sweats as a result of an imbalance of hormone levels.
What to do about low testosterone levels
It’s important not to self-diagnose if you suspect that your testosterone levels are low. The best course of action if you are experiencing some or all of the above symptoms is to visit your GP, who may arrange for tests to be carried out.
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