Falloff of hormone production with age is common for both women and men. Testosterone, the principal sex hormone in men, falls below 300 nanograms per deciliter of blood for about 2% of men. However, levels don’t need to fall that low before you experience the effects of declining testosterone production.
These effects aren’t predictable. It’s not fully understood why, but some men suffer the symptoms of low testosterone more severely than others with similar levels. Here are five common symptoms that may reveal signs that your hormone production is in decline.
Low sex drive and erectile dysfunction
Perhaps the most potentially upsetting change resulting from low testosterone is a reduction in the desire and ability to have sex. Testosterone stimulates the production of nitrous oxide in the body, which in turn begins several reactions that create erections.
Generally, though, there are other conditions that contribute to erectile dysfunction, so the problems may not be exclusively caused by low testosterone.
In many cases, treating other factors, such as diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, restores erectile function. Testosterone hormone therapy may be more important when your desire for sex drops below critical levels. Medications to treat erectile dysfunction still require that you have sexual desire in order to work.
Changing testosterone levels can have varied effects on the hair of your body. It’s difficult to predict exactly what hair growth changes are due to low testosterone, since genetic factors also play a role. There are different forms of testosterone in your body, either bound or unbound to proteins. Unbound, or “free,” testosterone is available for use in your body and is used by hair follicles, among other things.
Low testosterone can cause male-pattern baldness or contribute to it if you’re already genetically susceptible. At the same time, low testosterone can cause excessive hair to grow in other places.
With low levels of testosterone, you may find it harder to fall asleep, stay asleep, or fall back asleep when you wake in the night. Men with low testosterone are also more likely to have sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops during sleep, forcing the brain to wake you to restart breathing.
When you combine this with difficulty going back to sleep, you can imagine the potentially growing scope of the issue. Further, low testosterone may leave you chronically fatigued, also a symptom of sleep apnea, so it’s another complex and intertwined health issue.
Loss of bone mass
When women start to suffer from low levels of estrogen, they become prone to a loss of bone mass, called osteoporosis. In men, testosterone plays a role in replacing bone and muscle tissue, so less testosterone means that you may lose bone mass in a similar way.
Rather than a solid structure, your bones have tiny pockets inside, like the composition of sponge toffee. As you lose bone mass, these pockets get larger, making bones more fragile and prone to fracture.
Mood and concentration problems
Your ability to focus can change when your testosterone level drops. You may feel more easily irritated, and you could suffer depression more easily. Once again, these are all symptoms of other conditions as well, so you may or may not have a testosterone issue also contributing.
Diagnosing why you’re displaying certain symptoms is important when considering treatment for low testosterone, since hormone therapy produces few results if your levels are within normal ranges.
When low testosterone is the culprit, however, you may see dramatic improvements. Contact the men’s health specialists at Ethos Integrative Medicine today to schedule your personal assessment and consultation.