Although commonly referred to as the “male hormone,” the hormone testosterone” appears naturally in both men and men. Testosterone is vital for bodily functions to be working correctly, so it’s essential to look out for symptoms of Low T, especially as you become older.
Low testosterone is far more common than the medical community would like to admit. Why is this? In many cases, the only measurement taken is total testosterone. What matters more is calculating free testosterone because even men with high total testosterone levels may also have low free testosterone levels. This means that their bodies cannot take advantage of their high testosterone levels because the testosterone in their blood is not bioactive (your body can’t make use of it).
Testosterone has effects on various parts of the body, including metabolism and cognition. It regulates muscle mass, fertility, and how blood cells replicate. One of the most significant effects of Low T in men is that of infertility.
Testosterone imbalances vary widely from person to person. Still, if you have Low T symptoms and suspect there might be a problem, it’s vital to get advice from a medical professional.
Low Testosterone in Men
For men, Low-T, or low testosterone, is defined as less than 300 ng/dL of total testosterone or less than 9 ng/dL of free testosterone. Hypogonadism is a broader term that includes low testosterone.
Male hypogonadism is “…a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough of the hormone that plays a key role in masculine growth and development during puberty (testosterone) or enough sperm or both.”
Low-T for many men has little to do with arbitrary measurements of hormones and much more to do with how they feel. Testosterone levels naturally decline with age. Even if your total or free testosterone levels are considered above normal, they may have fallen so far from the testosterone levels they were when you were young that you might experience symptoms of Low T
Similarly, young men can have testosterone levels above these thresholds, but if they’re experiencing symptoms, their testosterone is low for them. They may not meet conventional medicines’ clinical definitions of Low-T, but that doesn’t make their symptoms disappear—they still need treatment.
Low Testosterone in Women
As previously mentioned, women also have testosterone, and it’s essential for their bodies to function correctly, even though their levels are about 1/10th to 1/20th that of a man. For women, testosterone levels below 25 ng/dL are considered low in women under 50. We need to think not in terms of arbitrary levels but rather in terms of symptoms of Low T.
If a woman is experiencing Low-T symptoms, even if her levels are above normal, it may be the case that she has low testosterone levels for her body. Remember, everyone’s body is different. A testosterone level may be acceptable for one person, while the same level is considered low for someone else. Numbers aren’t the ultimate sign of low testosterone — low T symptoms are.
The Symptoms of Low T
Low-T has a wide variety of symptoms, including, but not limited to:
- Decreased Sex Drive. Testosterone plays a central role in our sex drive or libido. It’s natural for someone’s sex drive to decrease with age, but Low T can reduce the sex drive even further. It’s much more apparent when your sex drive drops because of Low T than simply because of aging. Since low testosterone can happen to anyone at any age, it’s fortunate some treatments can restore testosterone levels to normal.
- Low Semen Output. If one has no significant changes in their sex drive but happens to notice they’re producing less semen than usual, then low testosterone may be the culprit.
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Difficulty getting and maintaining an erection is a common symptom of Low T. Testosterone stimulates the brain’s neuroreceptors that produce nitric oxide, the necessary chemical used for getting and maintaining an erection. With lower levels of testosterone, this chemical reaction becomes impeded.
- Chronic Fatigue. Exhaustion seems to affect everyone nowadays, but your fatigue might have resulted from Low T. Many doctors have determined that their patients decreased energy was related to hormone levels. Low T might be to blame if you get plenty of sleep at night but still feel tired.
- Sleep Problems. If you eat right and get regular exercise but still have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, Low T might be the problem. Compounding the problem, many men with Low T also have sleep apnea.
Other symptoms of Low T include depression or anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and weight issues.
Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and not all these symptoms have to be present. Some people don’t experience any Low T symptoms at all yet still have clinically low testosterone. Everyone is different. If you have even typical symptoms of Low T, it may indeed indicate low testosterone, or it may be an indication of another illness or disease. The only way to know for sure is to get your levels tested.
If you have symptoms of Low T, let’s talk.