We traditionally think of men in a mid-life crisis as buying sports cars and motorcycles. However, low testosterone is also a marker of aging. Are you losing hair and muscle mass? Do you wonder why your body fat is increasing and your bone mass is decreasing? These are only a few symptoms of low testosterone. In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of low testosterone and why it happens in the first place. Let’s get started!
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a sex hormone. Men and women both carry it in their bodies. Women just have a smaller amount. Testosterone is produced by gonads and adrenal glands in men. For women it is produced in the adrenal glands and ovaries. Testosterone is generally considered a male hormone because it helps to develop the male reproductive organs. It is responsible for many functions as well. Some of them are:
- Developing Bones and Muscles
- Hair Growth and Voice Changes
- Sperm Production
An estimated two out of 10 men over the age of 60 have low testosterone.(6) However, most of these men are not even aware that they have low testosterone levels. Low testosterone is most often diagnosed after patients come for medical advice about a low sex drive. As you get older, it is even more common. This means that three out of ten men between the ages of 70 and 80 have low testosterone levels.(6) Now that we have discussed what testosterone is, we can discuss how you can develop low testosterone in the first place.
How You Develop Low Testosterone
Low testosterone is considered a level that is less than 300 nanograms (ng) of the hormone per deciliter (dl) of blood. Studies have shown that about 2 in every 100 men have low testosterone. (1) It is also more common in men who are obese and have high amounts of stress. (3)
It is normal to develop low testosterone while you are aging. Testosterone starts to decrease once you are over the age of thirty. Many older men have symptoms of low testosterone. Obviously, there is nothing you can do about getting older. Therefore, there is not much you can do about correcting this cause of low testosterone.
Soy based products can cause low testosterone as well. This is because soy contains a high amount of phytoestrogens isoflavones. This is troublesome because they mimic estrogen in your body. Estrogen is the opposite of testosterone, which is the problem. The best way to combat this is by staying away from soy based foods.
Vegetable oils are related to low testosterone too. They have high levels of PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids). This is important to remember because foods high in PUFAs reduce testosterone levels. If you think this is why you have low testosterone, you should substitute with butter, olive oil or coconut oil instead.
Flaxseed has a large amount of lignans. Lignans reduce total and free testosterone levels. It also inhibits testosterone from converting to dihydrotestosterone. You will want to avoid flaxseed entirely if you suffer from low testosterone.
Processed Foods are a major problem because hormones and antibiotics are added to them. Hormones and antibiotics lower your testosterone levels. They can also cause issues in your brain and many other parts of your body. You should avoid these foods as much as possible. Try to buy organic or non-additive foods when you grocery shop.
Alcohol is known to decrease testosterone levels. The correlation of alcohol consumption and testosterone reduction in human males is undeniable. This is shown by the fact that chronic alcoholics have higher estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels. However if you limit your alcohol intake to approximately 2 drinks per day, it can actually be boost testosterone. (5) In fact, a study done in 2013 showed that drinking the equivalent to half a glass of vodka immediately after a resistance training workout boosted testosterone by roughly 100%. (5) So remember, you can drink alcohol but don’t drink in excess.
Lack of exercise is another way your testosterone can decrease. This is because regular exercise increases the demand for muscle building. Muscle building increases the need for the brain to release hormones that lead to increased testosterone levels. (5) You should try to exercise at the end of the day. This is because your cortisol level drops naturally to its lowest level then. This is ideal for exercise. You should try to do one of the following in your routine:
- Endurance Exercise
Now that you know some of the issues that can cause low testosterone you can be more aware of them. Now we will discuss the symptoms of low testosterone.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
There are many symptoms of low testosterone. Some of them are:
- Low Sex Drive
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Hair Loss
- Loss of Muscle Mass
- Increased Body Fat
- Decreased Bone Mass
- Mood Changes
- Affected Memory
Men with low testosterone will commonly say they have a decreased desire for sex. Your sex drive naturally decreases with age. However, when your sex drive decreases because of low testosterone, there is a significant decrease in your sexual desire. (1)
Erections happen when your body releases nitric oxide. However, your body needs testosterone for this to occur. Therefore, if your testosterone level is low, you may not be able to maintain an erection. Sometimes, you may not be able to get an erection at all. Other times your penis may not be firm enough for intercourse. If you have these issues, then you are likely to be suffering from low testosterone levels. However, it is important to remember that there can be several other factors that can cause erectile dysfunction:(2)
- Thyroid Issues
- High Cholesterol
- Stress or Anxiety
- Alcohol Consumption
- High Blood Pressure
Hair loss is also common with low testosterone levels. Men and women both commonly experience hair loss as we age as well. However, you should note that testosterone is crucial for hair growth. Once testosterone levels drop below the normal levels, you will notice your hair does not grow like it used to.
Low testosterone can lead to reduced levels of energy and fatigue. This may still occur even after you have had adequate rest. You also may develop less interest in exercise or movement. This is because testosterone plays a major role in energy production. When your testosterone level dips low, you will become tired more quickly and more frequently. In fact, it is often reported that testosterone deficiency will often feel like you are completely drained of any energy. If you find yourself yawning and feeling exhausted more frequently, you should have your testosterone levels tested.
Muscle mass is also related to reduced levels of testosterone. This can result in a significant loss of muscle mass. Keep in mind that even though your muscles have less mass, they still have the same strength. (4)
Decreased bone mass can also be a result of low testosterone. This is because testosterone helps to produce bone tissue. Low testosterone can lead to a reduction in bone volume, which can make the bones easier to break.
Mood changes can occur with low testosterone as well. There is no doubt that low testosterone levels can affect the patient’s mental state. In return, this can lead to severe irritability, anxiety, and depression. Even if they say they are okay, they could be irritated and angry on the inside. All of this could easily be linked to a low testosterone level. You should definitely consider visiting your local doctor and having your testosterone levels checked if you experience these symptoms.
It can decrease memory as well. This also refers to focus and concentration. Many scientists suspect that this is connected to dementia in older patients as well. (7)
Sleep apnea can occur with low testosterone levels as well. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that causes you to stop and start breathing repeatedly while you sleep. This will disrupt your sleep pattern in the process. It also can cause low testosterone because of the changes that occur in your body due to sleep apnea. (7) If your partner tells you that you have loud snoring at night with periods in which your breathing is interrupted, talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.
Now that we have discussed the causes and symptoms of low testosterone, you need to be aware of them. If you have symptoms like low energy, low libido, daytime sleepiness, or poor concentration, you should talk to your doctor. There is a high possibility that you have low testosterone. If you recently purchased a sports car or motorcycle, its probably just a mid-life crisis.