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The Effects of Low Testosterone on Your Health

The Effects of Low Testosterone on Your Health

By Mike Kocsis | 7 minutes read | Last updated: June 18, 2024
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

    Evidence Based Research

    Testosterone is a primary male sex hormone produced by the testes and adrenal glands. If you have low testosterone it can have some negative effects on your health. The testes produce over 95% of the endogenous testosterone after receiving signals from the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands produce the remaining. Ovaries also produce testosterone in smaller amounts. 

    Testosterone controls various important functions in both men and women, such as the overall health of bones, skin, and muscles. However, testosterone levels decline in men as they age, and some even develop testosterone deficiency due to a congenital or acquired condition. Since testosterone is an important hormone, having low serum testosterone levels can influence your health in several ways.

    In this article, we will evaluate how low T can affect different aspects of a man’s life.  

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    Testosterone deficiency

    Testosterone deficiency, a condition also called low T, occurs when your testes do not produce enough testosterone to support the normal functioning of sex organs and other body tissues.

    In healthy men, normal testosterone levels range from 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). If your testosterone levels are below 300 ng/dL, you may have testosterone deficiency.

    It develops due to two reasons:

    • An abnormality of the testes due to which they don’t produce testosterone even after receiving signals from the brain
    • An abnormality of the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus due to which they don’t send signals to the testes to synthesise testosterone

     

    Effects of testosterone deficiency on your health and life

    Low testosterone can affect your health in the following ways.

    Low energy levels: You may feel like you are no longer as energetic as you used to be. You feel tired even after sleeping for 7 to 8 hours.

    Drop in your sex drive: It may become difficult to gain and maintain an erection. You may lose interest in sex. It can disturb your relationship with your partner.

    Loss of mental focus: When your testosterone levels are below normal, you have trouble concentrating and develop memory issues. You may forget your plans, what you were just going to say, or where you placed your home/car keys. It is more common in men who have extremely low testosterone levels.

    Change in personality/mood: You may feel sad and depressed most of the time. You lose interest in things that once used to make you happy. You notice a change in your personality and don’t feel like yourself anymore. 

    Men taking testosterone medication feel happy and energetic once again due to the restoration of their testosterone levels.

    Muscle mass changes: You start losing muscle mass and strength. Bodybuilding exercises that you once found very effective may not produce the same results.

    Increase in body fat: You may gain weight due to the accumulation of body fats.

    Reduction in bone mass: Your risk of developing osteoporosis (that makes bones weak and brittle) will increase. Your bones will lose their density, making you more susceptible to bone fractures.

    Loss of facial and body hair: You may start losing your facial and body hair. Your hair will become thin and lose shine.

    Restlessness at night: You may have difficulty falling asleep and may feel tired after waking up in the morning.

    Problems on the job: Depression, low energy levels, and concentration difficulties can make it hard for you to show the same performance at work.

    Low self-confidence: A disturbed relationship with your partner, friends and colleagues could result in a loss of self-esteem.

     

    What should men with testosterone deficiency do?

    If low testosterone is influencing multiple aspects of your health and life, you should try to identify the cause of the problem and get rid of it if you can. Low T can develop due to various reasons, including:

    Primary hypogonadism (when testes do not function normally): It has the following causes. 

    • Undescended testicles
    • Klinefelter’s syndrome
    • Noonan syndrome
    • Myotonic dystrophy
    • Poor development of Leydig cells in testes
    • Testicle removal
    • Testicle injury
    • Testicle inflammation
    • Cancer treatment (chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
    • Usage of certain medication

     

    Secondary hypogonadism (when the brain does not send signals to the testes): It may occur due to the following conditions. 

    • Kallmann syndrome
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
    • Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism
    • Cushing’s syndrome
    • Brain injury
    • Brain tumour
    • Liver disease
    • Renal failure
    • Obstructive sleep apnea
    • AIDS
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Excessive consumption of alcohol
    • Certain medications, such as psychoactive drugs and estrogens

    Identifying the cause of the problem will help you choose the right treatment plan. For instance, if your testosterone deficiency is due to obesity, losing body weight can increase testosterone production. Similarly, if it is due to poorly managed diabetes, taking the right steps to manage diabetes may improve your low T symptoms.

     

    Testing for testosterone deficiency

    Men having low T symptoms should visit a doctor for a physical examination and medical history. The doctor will ask you a few questions about your current symptoms and health. They will also do a physical exam to look for the prominent symptoms of the problem.

    They will ask you to have a testosterone test to find out what your current levels of free and total testosterone are. Free testosterone is the testosterone available to cells, while total testosterone is the sum of free and protein-bound testosterone.

    This test is done in the morning when men have high testosterone levels. If the first test shows low testosterone levels, your doctor will most likely ask you to have another test to ensure you have low testosterone levels.

    They may also ask you to have other tests and imaging to identify what is causing testosterone deficiency.

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    Beat testosterone deficiency with TRT.

    If your testosterone levels are below normal and you are unable to increase them using natural methods, choosing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can help increase your serum testosterone concentration. In this treatment, artificial testosterone is administered through injections, gels, patches, and tablets.

    Men having TRT report the following benefits.

    • Improvement in energy levels
    • Improvement in body fat distribution and muscle health
    • Stronger bones
    • Improved ability to concentrate
    • Improved sexual function

    You may be a TRT candidate if low T is disturbing your life and you do not have any of the following conditions.

    • Prostate cancer
    • Breast cancer
    • Sleep apnea
    • Untreated heart disease

     

    What else you need to know about TRT?

    Although TRT is known to improve muscle, bone, and sexual organ health, it also carries some side effects that you must discuss with your doctor to find out how you can avoid them. Common examples of TRT symptoms are:

    • Acne
    • Shrinkage of testicles
    • Reduction in sperm production/ infertility
    • Fluid retention
    • Increase in male breast size
    • Breast soreness
    • Swelling of ankles and feet

     

    Testosterone and the risk of cardiovascular disease

    Testosterone is often believed to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease; however, studies show mixed results on this issue. Some early studies concluded that taking artificial testosterone may increase the risk of a heart attack. However, some additional studies showed no such relationship between testosterone and cardiovascular disease.

     

    Did you know?

    Sometimes, testosterone deficiency is not a bad thing. For instance, men with prostate cancer need to reduce their testosterone production because it may make cancer grow fast. That is why doctors prescribe them testosterone-reducing medications. 

    Doctors do not suggest TRT to men with prostate cancer. They carefully monitor prostate cancer risk in men when they start TRT. 

     

    FAQs

    What are the natural ways to increase testosterone?

    As mentioned earlier, if your testosterone deficiency is due to a poor lifestyle, making a few lifestyle changes can help you increase its levels. You should exercise regularly, become more active, and eat a balanced diet that is low in saturated fats.

     

    Does low T increase the risk of diabetes?

    Studies show that men with low T have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Testosterone helps with the transfer of glucose from the blood to body cells. Its low levels increase insulin resistance in the body. As a result, your body starts making more insulin to maintain blood glucose levels, leading to type 2 diabetes.

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    Summing it up

    Low testosterone is a common problem among men and can has a negative effect on overall health. It can occur at any age, but it is more prevalent in older men. Men with mild testosterone deficiency may not experience its symptoms frequently; hence, they may not need TRT. However, if your testosterone levels are very low and the condition is influencing your life in multiple ways, you should consider getting timely treatment to avoid further complications. TRT can help you increase your testosterone levels and get rid of the symptoms associated with it. If you feel you may have low testosterone, get in touch with us and we can get you tested and discuss your options. 

     

    References/Scientific studies/Further reading/Bibliography

    Moncada, I., 2006. Testosterone and men’s quality of life. The Aging Male9(4), pp.189-193.

    Tsujimura, A., 2013. The relationship between testosterone deficiency and men’s health. The world journal of men’s health31(2), pp.126-135.

    Miner, M., Canty, D.J. and Shabsigh, R., 2008. Testosterone replacement therapy in hypogonadal men: assessing benefits, risks, and best practices. Postgraduate Medicine120(3), pp.130-153.

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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject. You can read more about our Editorial Process by clicking here.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike KocsisMike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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