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Mar 25, 20227 min read

Low Testosterone in Men - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Testosterone is the main sexual hormone in men, although women also produce it in small amounts. Low testosterone in men can lead to a variety of symptoms, and it can be caused by a wide range of conditions. Identifying low testosterone levels is important, since it can allow you to seek treatment for symptoms and any underlying conditions.

According to the Hormone Health Network{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"}, testosterone is produced by the testicles. In addition to helping the male body change and develop during puberty, testosterone is also involved in the process of producing sperm so a male is able to have children. Testosterone also helps regulate different biological processes.

Read to discover everything you need to know about low testosterone in men, its causes, symptoms, and how it can be treated.

Causes of low testosterone in men

Many different conditions can lead to testosterone deficiency in men. Although testosterone production naturally decreases with age, this decrease shouldn’t lead to deficiency under normal circumstances.

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Use of certain medications
  • Testicular injuries
  • Pituitary disease
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Long-term steroid use
  • Autoimmune disease

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Other conditions

On rare occasions, other conditions and diseases can lead to low testosterone in men. Some of these causes include:

  • Klinefelter syndrome
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Myotonic dystrophy
  • Hemochromatosis
  • HIV infection
  • Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Symptoms of low testosterone

According to the Urology Care Foundation{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"}, low testosterone is defined as having serum levels of testosterone below 300 ng/dL. Since testosterone is involved in many different processes in the male human body, its deficiency can cause a wide range of manifestations.

Symptoms of low testosterone include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced testicular volume
  • Decreased ejaculate
  • Low libido
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increased body fat
  • Decreased bone density
  • Mood changes
  • Cognitive difficulties

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Now, let’s go over each of these symptoms…

Erectile dysfunction

According to Mayo Clinic{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"}, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection that is firm enough{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"} for intercourse.

Keep in mind that erectile dysfunction doesn’t automatically mean that there’s anything wrong with your testosterone levels. Other factors related to ED include:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship issues
  • Stress

Men with low testosterone can also experience a decrease in their testicular volume, and a reduced amount of ejaculate or semen.

Low libido

Testosterone is also involved in both male and female sexual drive, and low testosterone can lead to a decreased libido. A study published by The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"} found that men who report low libido have an increased chance of being diagnosed with decreased testosterone.

Hair loss

Both men and women can experience hair loss as a result of low testosterone, although alopecia is far more frequent in men. Testosterone deficiency is also linked to decreased body and facial hair.

Loss of muscle mass and increased body fat

Testosterone is important for the development of muscle mass, so a decrease in testosterone levels can cause a subsequent reduction in your muscle mass. A study published by the PLOS ONE{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"} academic magazine found that men with low testosterone experienced lower muscle mass, although their muscle strength wasn’t affected on average.

Low testosterone can also promote the increased storage of body fat, and some men with testosterone deficiency can even develop gynecomastia, or the enlargement of male breast tissue.

Decreased bone density

Bone density naturally decreases as we grow older, but this process can be accelerated by low testosterone. A study published by the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"} found that low testosterone in men is related to bone density and an increased risk of bone fractures in seniors.

Mood changes

Testosterone is also involved in mood regulation, and there are cells in the human brain with testosterone receptors. Mood changes caused by low testosterone can include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Mood swings

Cognitive difficulties

Low testosterone levels can literally affect the way your brain works, leading to cognitive symptoms. According to a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"}, cognitive symptoms related to low testosterone include:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Slower processing speed
  • Poor memory
  • Speech delays
  • Impaired spatial ability

Treatments for low testosterone

In many cases, specialists only recommend treatment for patients who develop symptoms, since some patients remain asymptomatic.

If your low testosterone levels are related to an underlying disease, your physician will most likely recommend treating the cause before addressing the low testosterone itself. Your doctor could also recommend lifestyle changes and strategies to boost testosterone naturally{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"}.

Treatment for men who don’t produce enough testosterone because they don’t have testes or have lost one or both of them typically includes testosterone supplementation.

However, supplemental testosterone can affect sperm production, so your physician may not recommend it if you want to preserve your fertility. Testosterone therapy can also be associated with a higher risk of stroke and heart disease, so it’s important to take this treatment under strict medical surveillance.

According to Harvard Health Publishing{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"}, supplemental testosterone is available in different forms, including:

  • Oral therapy
  • Skin patches
  • Gels
  • Injections
  • Subcutaneous pellets

Written by Andrea Pinto Lopez{: target="_blank" rel="noopener"} on July 13 2021



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