Low Testosterone in Men
Table of Contents
- Written by Dr. Patricia Shelton on April 14, 2022
Testosterone is a very important hormone for men. A lack of testosterone in males can lead to a variety of symptoms. Men who have low testosterone often feel low in energy, and they may lack interest in sex. Fortunately, there are ways to help get the levels back up to normal, so that a man can fully enjoy his life again.
What are the symptoms of low testosterone in males?
If they have low testosterone, men’s symptoms may include:
- Low energy
- Lack of sex drive
- Trouble getting or keeping an erection
- Decreased hair growth, especially on the face and body
- Gynecomastia, or development of female breast tissue in a man
- Loss of muscle mass
- Loss of bone mass
It’s important to note that some of these symptoms are actually the same as the symptoms of high testosterone in males. For example, changes in mood, infertility, and even low sex drive can all be symptoms of either high or low testosterone. This is why it’s very important for a man to get his testosterone level tested if he’s having symptoms. Sometimes, men simply assume that their symptoms are due to low testosterone and start supplementing. If they actually have high testosterone, then this will make the problem worse. It’s important to check your levels before you start taking any supplements, so that you know what the problem truly is.
What are the causes of low testosterone in males?
There are many different potential causes of a low level of testosterone in males. These include:
- Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Certain medications
- Severe injury to both testicles
- Hemochromatosis (a disease of too much iron in the blood)
- Certain chronic diseases
- Congenital or genetic conditions
How is low testosterone treated in men?
If his levels aren’t extremely low, a man can try boosting his testosterone level naturally, through increasing exercise, managing stress, and eating a healthy diet. For some men, this may be enough to bring testosterone levels up to the normal range. For those who are significantly overweight, losing weight can sometimes help to raise testosterone levels.
However, natural methods won’t be enough for all men. For many men with low testosterone, the problem is treated with supplemental testosterone. This is often given in the form of a gel or cream that’s applied to the skin. The testosterone is easily absorbed into the bloodstream through this route. Another option is testosterone injections, although this method can lead to undesirable fluctuations in hormone levels. Testosterone is usually not given orally (as a pill or capsule), because research indicates that this can have negative effects on the liver. Giving testosterone through the skin or as an injection bypasses the liver and gets the medication straight into the bloodstream.
If a man is using testosterone cream, then it’s important to avoid allowing the cream to get on his female partner before it’s absorbed all the way into his skin. If she gets the cream on her, then she can absorb it through her skin and may start to experience the symptoms of high testosterone.
How to check male testosterone level?
In order to find out whether he has low testosterone, a man needs a blood test. This is not something that’s included in a standard STD panel. One option is to visit your doctor and ask for them to order a blood test. You will then visit a laboratory to have blood drawn for the test. Another option is to get a home test kit for hormonal health. Some of these kits use blood for the test, while others use saliva. Some research suggests that saliva is a reliable way to measure testosterone, but not all studies confirm this. If you have abnormal results on your salivary testosterone test, then you may want to follow up with a blood test to be sure about the results.
How does low testosterone affect a man?
In general, having low testosterone will have a variety of effects on a man’s health. The symptoms of testosterone deficiency in males include depression, lack of energy, and low sex drive are all signs of low testosterone in men. There is also a significant association between chronic disease and low testosterone in males, making it even more important to test for and treat this problem.
How common is low testosterone in young males?
Low testosterone is more common in older men. However, low testosterone certainly can also occur in young males. One large study showed that 22.6% of men ages 20 to 39 had low testosterone. By contrast, in older men, the rate was about 35%. This study shows the importance of paying attention to the possible low testosterone signs in males, no matter their age.
Fui MNT, Dupuis P, et al. Lowered testosterone in male obesity: mechanisms, morbidity and management. Asian J Androl. 2014 Mar-Apr; 16(2): 223–231. doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.122365
Keevil BG, MacDonald P, et al. Salivary Testosterone Measurement by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry in Adult Males and Females. Ann Clin Biochem. 2014 May; 51(Pt 3): 368–378. doi: 10.1177/0004563213506412
Male hypogonadism. Mayo Clinic (2021). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/male-hypogonadism/symptoms-causes/syc-20354881. Accessed 12 April 2022.
Peterson MD, Belakovskiy A, et al. Testosterone Deficiency, Weakness, and Multimorbidity in Men. Sci Rep 2018 Apr 12;8(1):5897. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24347-6
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