The production of testosterone spikes during puberty and gradually declines after a man is 40 years. The decline rate averages at 1% every year and by the time a man is 70 years, the production of testosterone may have decreased to about 30%.
Healthy males have an average production of 6mg testosterone daily and most males sustain healthy production into old age, which is why men in their 80’s can father children.1 Low testosterone levels in men have significant physical, emotional, and psychological impacts on men.
5 Common Side Effects of Low Testosterone in Men
The emotional changes of low testosterone levels are the most overlooked yet their impact is deep. Men rarely want to talk about this condition for fear of being judged and this combined with other physical effects like fatigue, low libido, and irritability, they may fall into depression.
Testosterone aids with emotional regulation in men and low levels lead to feelings of sadness and eventually low self-confidence.
As a result of low testosterone, you may start experiencing low energy levels accompanied by changes to your sleep patterns including insomnia. Replacement therapy may also cause sleep apnea, a condition where your breathing repeatedly starts and stops while you sleep.
Ironically, sleep apnea also causes body changes that can result in low testosterone levels.
Increased body fat and loss of hair
Hair growth is one of the body functions that testosterone helps with, including facial hair and head hair. While balding is usually a genetic condition that is associated with aging, low levels of testosterone speed up hair loss, even in young males.
Low testosterone also increases the amount of body fat in a man’s body, causing them to look flabbier. This combined with hair loss may result in self-esteem issues.
Swelling of breast tissue
Gynecomastia is a common side effect of low testosterone levels in men which causes the breast tissue to grow abnormally, making them appear female-like. The hormonal imbalance causes the breast gland tissue to grow and become tender.
This condition affects at least 30% males2 and is self-diagnosable and treatable.
Low sex drive
Testosterone is responsible for a man’s sex drive and increasing libido. Low testosterone levels result in a decrease in libido and men find their desire to have sex is greatly reduced. As men age and their testosterone production decreases they may also have low spontaneous erections and in some cases be rendered infertile.
Erectile dysfunction is often associated with low testosterone levels but there is little correlation. There are cases, however, where both conditions accompany each other, in which case hormone therapy would help.
Treatment of low testosterone in men
Low testosterone in men is treated through testosterone hormone therapy that is done in 3 common variations; a transdermal patch, testosterone injections, and gel applications. These treatment options help to increase the sex drive, deepening of the voice, body fat redistribution, hair growth, among others.
Links to sources used
- Testosterone, aging, and the mind - https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Testosterone_aging_and_the_mind
- Gynecomastia: Clinical evaluation and management - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3987263/