Low testosterone can occur at any point in a man’s life. Yet, the older he becomes, the more likely he is to experience it. Find out everything you need to know about low T, including the symptoms, causes, effects and treatment here…
What is testosterone
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and is an anabolic steroid. It’s responsible for giving men their masculine traits, even before they’re born.
Primarily produced in the testes, testosterone plays an important role in a man’s development. It’s what triggers the deepening of his voice, growth of sex organs, and increase in sex drive during puberty. As he begins to enter adulthood, T will also help to regulate:
Facial and body hair
From these factors alone, it’s easy to see how important healthy levels of T are. Men usually hit peak production during adolescence and carry their highest levels into early adulthood.
Medical professionals also recognize testosterone as a fundamental part of a man’s wellbeing for these reasons.
Normal T ranges vary between 300-1000 ng/dL, which can be influenced by health, age and lifestyle factors. For example, alcoholism may lower testosterone, while heavy resistance training might increase it.
If a man’s serum levels fall below this amount, he could be diagnosed with low testosterone.
Low testosterone in men
Low testosterone, also known as hypogonadism, is a growing concern among men today. Not only are we living longer, but sedentary and stressful lives are also affecting our androgens. To put it bluntly many of us are sending our hormone health into decline.
Testosterone naturally declines by approximately one percent a year once a man reaches age 30. Yet, lifestyle, health, or pre-existing medical issues can all influence the process. Believe it or not, factors like stress and diet can be a huge factor too.
According to recent studies a quarter of US men over 30 have low testosterone. But, a much smaller amount of one in 20 have clinical symptoms linked to a deficiency. It is also suggested that because we’re all living longer this number will only increase.
Spotting signs of testosterone decline can be quite a tough time for men. If you feel like you suffer from the following symptoms make time to talk to a doctor.
Signs & Symptoms of low testosterone
Worried about your levels of free-flowing T? Take a look at this list of low testosterone signs and symptoms:
Low libido – you might think it’s just down to getting older, but low libido might mean tanked testosterone
Erectile dysfunction – if your levels of T fall enough you may struggle developing and/or maintaining an erection
Infertility – low testosterone is sometimes linked to low sperm production, leading to infertility
Fewer spontaneous erections – a lower sex drive may also result in less spontaneous erections, especially while sleeping
Rapid hair loss – while it’s normal for men to bald as they age, low testosterone may cause rapid hair loss across areas other than the head
Enlarged breasts – an imbalance of the testosterone and the female sex hormone, estrogen, can result in enlarged breasts (gynecomastia)
Chronic fatigue – if your tiredness does not improve after sleep or rest, you could have low T
Increased body fat – testosterone helps to regulate how fat is dispersed across your body. Lower levels of energy for exercise and reduced lean mass can also increase overall levels of fat.
Depression, anxiety, and mood changes – a drop in free-flowing androgens has been linked to major impacts on mental health and mood. These symptoms can also be amplified due to frustration from dealing with other physical symptoms of low T.
Causes of low testosterone
The causes of low testosterone can vary from man to man. While we’re all susceptible to suffering from the symptoms of a hormone imbalance, we’re still individuals. The way your body reacts to certain stimuluses isn’t always the same as somebody else’s.
Let’s take a look at what could be causing your hormonal decline…
For some men, low testosterone could be due to medical issues in the testes. This is known as primary hypogonadism and may be caused by:
Testicle injury (must be inflicted upon both)
It’s possible for medical issues resulting in primary hypogonadism to happen at any point in your life. For example, if your body doesn’t produce ample amounts of T during fetal development, you may be born with underdeveloped genitals. Furthermore, if you fall victim to injuring both testicles later in life, you might develop hypogonadism.
On the other hand, issues triggered by the pituitary or hypothalamus (inside the brain) results in improper function of the testes. This is referred to as secondary hypogonadism, which could be caused by:
Medication (especially opiate pain medications)
Stress from concurrent illness
Just as with primary hypogonadism, secondary hypogonadism can occur at any point. This may be during fetal development, childhood, puberty, or adult life.
The lifestyle link
But, what about seemingly healthy men who suffer from symptoms of low testosterone? If they don’t knowingly have a medical issue, what could be the root of their problems?
In short – lifestyle. Many men in the modern world live such busy, hectic, and stressful lives it impacts their hormones. Lack of sleep , smoking, excessive drinking , narcotic abuse and stress all create a bad environment for testosterone production.
Diet can also impact how healthy a man’s testosterone levels are. If his diet lacks T-promoting nutrients like zinc, vitamin D and healthy fats, he faces compromised hormones due to deficiencies.
The fix? Aim to stay physically active, eat a well-balanced diet, cut down on alcohol, and sleep for seven to eight hours a night. These three things alone have been shown to help optimize hormonal balance.
While testosterone production might not be optimized overnight, you’ll give yourself the best chance by living healthier. It’s a simple yet effective way to combat the natural decline of your androgens.
Health effects of low testosterone
Low testosterone is a growing concern because of its various health effects. These range from mild inconvenience such as irritability, to rather serious issues such as infertility and depression.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Society, men with low T are also more likely to get a chronic illness . If you have a history of certain illnesses in your family, tanked testosterone might put you at a higher risk.
For these reasons, medical professionals consider healthy testosterone levels to be vital for a man’s wellbeing. Not only does it impact the way men feel about themselves, but their overall enjoyment and quality of life too.
Men diagnosed with low testosterone often face:
Increased risk of cardiovascular disease 
Diabetes and metabolic syndrome 
Damaged cholesterol metabolism
Osteoporosis (reduced bone density)
Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass)
Body fat increase
Lack of concentration/brain fog
Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts)
Understandably, being diagnosed with low testosterone is alarming for a lot of men. The physical elements not only impact the way they look, but how they feel too. His doctor may also tell him he’s at an increased risk of life-threatening conditions, which can make the worrying worse.
Furthermore, the mental side effects of low testosterone can make life challenging. Depression and anxiety could negatively affect both work and home life, while irritability may cause further friction with friend, family, and colleagues.
Loss of libido, sex drive, and sexual performance can reduce confidence and feelings of self-worth. Unfortunately, not only does this further impact mental wellbeing, but often puts a strain on relationships too.
Treatment of low testosterone
Through extensive research into food, lifestyle, and synthetic steroids, men now have a ton of options for treating low testosterone. The extent of how far they need to go will depend on the severity of their symptoms.
Say, for example, you notice a slight drop in libido. All you might need to do is look at your sleeping pattern, relieve some stress, and eat a cleaner diet to refuel your sex life.
However, on the other hand, if you’re medically confirmed as having low testosterone, you may be offered testosterone replacement therapy. This could be your answer to reclaiming your manhood and musclebound physique.
Let’s examine the possible ways of treating testosterone…
Testosterone replacement therapy
A lot of men who receive testosterone therapy claim their mood, sex life, and energy levels improve. For many, being administered medically approved TRT helps them reclaim their vigor, confidence, and physical prowess.
Others however, claim the treatment carries far too many risks to be healthy and/or effective. TRT can also be expensive when used for both short-term and long-term solutions.
Types of testosterone replacement treatment include:
Getting TRT it isn’t as easy as just asking for a prescription from your doctor either. There are many side effects to consider and not all men with low testosterone are eligible for it.
Buying TRT without a prescription is also illegal. Selling it is a criminal offense that might lead to a jail sentence.
Because TRT is a relatively new discovery, the long-term risks aren’t currently known. Consequently, medical professionals cannot say for certain just how men who take it will be affected in the future.
What are normal testosterone levels?
Normal testosterone levels for healthy men are between 350 ng/dL and 1000 ng/dL. Many factors can influence this number such as age, health, and lifestyle.
How do I know what my testosterone levels are?
To find out how your T levels stand up against the average you’ll need to undergo tests from a doctor. If you face any of the symptoms listed earlier, you might have low testosterone.
Can you raise testosterone naturally?
Yes! Testosterone replacement therapy isn’t the only hope for men facing low testosterone. Depending on your circumstance and severity, you may be able to increase levels with a few lifestyle changes.
A good place to start is to reduce overall bodyfat, exercise more, and sleep better. Also, if you’re able to, have more sex.
Every man knows it’s much easier said than done to change their behavior. Yet, making small adjustments can lead to big differences.
Can you self-administer testosterone?
There is a reason that medical professionals prescribe TRT. Abusing testosterone replacement therapy can result in plummeted natural T production, and in extreme cases, stop it altogether.
Synthetic testosterone should only ever be used under the guidance and clearance of a doctor. Even then there are still side effects to consider.
In short – you can, but it’s illegal and dangerous.
Is testosterone a steroid?
Yes and no.
Testosterone in its original form is an anabolic-androgen steroid hormone produced naturally inside the body. Furthermore, the synthetic testosterone used in TRT is a lab-created imitation, which is the “steroid” abused for performance enhancing purposes.
So, yes, it is a steroid, but no it isn’t