Hormonal issues are often primarily associated with women, but men can experience imbalances as well. One of the most common hormone problem men face is low testosterone. When testosterone levels are low and out of balance with the other hormones in the body, it is called Testosterone Deficiency (TD) or Low Testosterone (Low T).
Testosterone levels in men gradually decline as they age, leading to certain symptoms like lowered libido and sexual performance. However, aging does not automatically mean a man will have testosterone deficiency. And often, men with low T will experience these symptoms (among others) in more pronounced ways. Low testosterone in men can be caused by a number of things not related to age, including:
- Testicular damage
- Removal of testicles due to cancer
- Chemotherapy or radiation
- Autoimmune disease
- Medications like antidepressants and narcotics
- HIV and AIDS
- Medical conditions related to Testosterone Deficiency
- Noonan syndrome
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Ambiguous Genitalia
When to See a Doctor
But how do you know if you have low testosterone? You might want to see a doctor if you have the following signs of low testosterone in men:
1. Erectile Dysfunction: One of the most common symptoms of low testosterone in men that prompts them to visit the doctor is erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction means a man has difficulty either achieving or sustaining an erection sufficient for intercourse.
Not being able to get or keep an erection only occasionally is not considered erectile dysfunction. To be erectile dysfunction, it must happen about 75% of the time intercourse is attempted.
Low testosterone is not the only cause of erectile dysfunction (other health and lifestyle issues are often at the root of the problem), and some men with low testosterone do not have erectile dysfunction, but there is often a link between the two.
2. Low Sex Drive: Another common symptom associated with low T is lowered libido. Men usually experience a natural, gradual decline in sex drive as they age. However, men with low testosterone often notice a drastic difference in their sexual desire.
3. Fatigue: Men with low testosterone levels often report feeling fatigued even when they have gotten plenty of rest. Energy levels also decrease and it can be harder to muster the motivation to get moving and exercise.
4. Insomnia: Sleep disturbances are also sometimes associated with low testosterone. This can include being unable to fall asleep and stay asleep as well as waking multiple times in the night.
5. Changes in Mood and Cognition: Testosterone can have an effect on mood as well as physical processes. Men with low testosterone may experience mood changes, irritability, depression, and anxiety. Men also report difficulties with other cognitive functions like focus and memory. Some describe experiencing a kind of “brain fog.”
6. Increased Body Fat: Low testosterone can cause an increase in body fat in some men. One way this happens is in a condition called “gynecomastia,” which is enlarged breast tissue in men. This may be due to the imbalance of testosterone in relation to estrogen in the body.
7. Loss of Muscle Mass: In addition to gaining fat, men with low testosterone can lose muscle mass. It can become harder to build and maintain muscles when testosterone is low. While the strength and function of the muscles do not seem to be affected, the mass of muscle will decrease. This is another reason for weight gain is common in men with low testosterone, as muscle tissue burns more calories than body fat, even at rest.
8. Loss of Bone Mass: Many people associate osteoporosis, or loss of bone mass, with women going through menopause. However, testosterone helps produce and strengthen bones, so low T will affect bone volume as well. Older men with low testosterone are especially susceptible to bone loss and potential fractures.
9. Hair Loss: Because testosterone plays a role in producing hair, low testosterone will sometimes cause hair loss. Facial and body hair may diminish and baldness is sometimes a problem. However, it should be noted that balding on the head is sometimes inherited and is not always a sign of low T.
10. Low Volume of Semen: The volume of semen released during ejaculation can noticeably decrease in men with low T. Testosterone is an important part of the production of seminal fluid, which is important for sperm motility. Men with low testosterone can still produce healthy sperm, but the number of sperm, or sperm count, may decrease.
Make an Appointment
If you are experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone, Chapel Hill Gynecology can help. Although we offer gynecological services and a lot of our patients come to us for menopause management, we can also treat men with low testosterone through hormone replacement therapy.
We offer pellet therapy that uses bioidentical hormones and provides a sustained level of testosterone rather than the varying levels associated with other types of treatment. To make an appointment, call us at 919-960-2720. You can also request an appointment online.