Low Testosterone: Symptoms, Causes And Treatments

Low testosterone treatment

Introduction

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males and plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testes and prostate. It also helps in the development of secondary sexual characteristics of males such as bone and muscle mass and the growth of body hair. Additionally, it also affects the metabolism levels in men.

Diagnosis

Although testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, the normal range rests between 300ng/dl and 1000ng/dl. Testosterone levels of the body can be tested through a blood test that is usually conducted in the morning because that is when our testosterone levels are the highest in the body.

In some cases, doctors diagnose low testosterone levels through a physical exam where they check the peripheral vision, amount of hair in the body, and the size of primary sexual organs. This might be accompanied by a detailed analysis of medical history where the doctors check whether the patient has any current or prior history of illness, genetic conditions in the body, and their libido.

Symptoms

Testosterone is an important hormone that regulates our day-to-day functioning and its low levels can severely impair a healthy life. Some of the common symptoms of a low level of testosterone production in the body are:

  • Impact on sexual health: Low levels of testosterone negatively impacts sexual health as it reduces libido and decreases the volume and motility of sperms. Men with low testosterone levels often struggle with erectile dysfunction which decreases sexual arousal and self-confidence. 
  • Hair loss: Low testosterone levels can speed up hair loss on the head and face in men. Although hair loss may be genetic in some people, low levels of testosterone have been linked with speeding up the onset of male pattern baldness in men.
  • Fatigue: Men with impaired testosterone production in the body feel extreme fatigue accompanied by insomnia and frequent headaches. It significantly decreases energy levels, and in extreme cases can also lead to photosensitivity.
  • Decreased Bone and Muscle Mass: Testosterone plays an important part in developing secondary sexual characteristics in men like muscles. Low levels of testosterone can decrease muscle and bone mass and bone volume. In extreme cases, some men are diagnosed with osteoporosis which makes them more susceptible to bone fractures.
  • Mood Swings: Cortisol is a hormone associated with fear, anxiety, and stress. Low levels of testosterone create a hormonal imbalance that leads to an increase in cortisol levels in the body. Therefore, men with low levels of testosterone often feel anger, hostility, anxiety, and general mood swings.

Since testosterone directly impacts our sexual health, low levels of testosterone production can make us feel anxious and under-confident too.

Causes

Low levels of testosterone can be caused due to poor eating or lifestyle habits or other ailments and diseases. Some of the major causes of low testosterone are –

  • Food: Several food items that decrease the level of testosterone production in the body. Soy products, which replicate the effects of estrogen in the body, reduce testosterone in the body. Menthol, which is one of the key ingredients of mint, also reduces the level of testosterone in the body. Heavy drinking and smoking tobacco products are also associated with low levels of testosterone production in the body. Processed and frozen foods are also bad for testosterone levels in the body because it contains trans-fat that kills testosterone. 
  • Lifestyle: Testosterone and mental health are inter-dependant. While low levels of testosterone negatively impacts mental health, high levels of stress and anxiety can negatively impact testosterone production in the body. Sex hormone building globulin (SHBG) is a protein that carries testosterone in the blood. Obesity reduces SHBG in the blood. Further, fat cells metabolize testosterone to estrogen which reduces the testosterone levels in the body.
  • Co-morbidities: Chronic diseases affecting the kidney and liver affects the level of testosterone in the body. Diabetes and high blood pressure cause low levels of testosterone in the body. Moreover, hormonal disorders are one of the major reasons for low testosterone levels in men. 

Treatment     

Low testosterone can be easily treated with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. Some common courses of action are:

  • Eating testosterone rich food: Changing our diet to include food that promotes testosterone production in the body is the most natural way to fix low testosterone levels. Some foods that boost testosterone production in the body are:
  • Garlic: It reduces the level of cortisol in the body which automatically boosts the level of testosterone
  • Eggs: They are a rich source of Vitamin D which aids testosterone production
  • Almonds: They have high levels of zinc which raises the level of testosterone in the body
  • Spinach: It is rich in magnesium which boosts testosterone production
  • Salmon: It is rich in magnesium and Vitamin B which are crucial to the production of testosterone in the body.

Medication:

Medicines to increase testosterone levels in the body are available as gels, oral pills, skin patches, and injections. 

  • Injections: Testosterone can be directly injected into the muscles from where it gets absorbed in the bloodstream. Testosterone injections are usually injected through thigh muscles. The injections can be self-administered and prescribed as a part of testosterone replacement therapy.
  • Skin Patches: There are medicated patches available that contain testosterone. The testosterone is absorbed through the skin and enters the bloodstream. It helps increase the level of testosterone in the body. The skin patches can be applied on the back, stomach, thighs, or upper arms and have to be left in place for 24 hours to show results.  
  • Oral Medication: The deficiency of certain minerals and nutrients like zinc and Vitamin D can affect the level of testosterone in the body. Zinc and Vitamin D supplements help us increase testosterone levels in the body. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is a crucial hormone linked to the production of testosterone, is also available as a supplement in the market 
  • Testosterone Gels: There are medicated gels that contain androgens and are applied on shoulders, upper arm, or in the abdominal region. In some cases, they are also applied inside the nose. The gel is to be applied once daily. The medication is absorbed by the skin and increases the level of testosterone in the body.

Changing Lifestyle Habits:

A sedentary lifestyle often leads to obesity which causes low levels of testosterone production in the body. Testosterone levels also depend on proper blood circulation in the body. It is important to have about 25 minutes of exercise each day for proper blood circulation and the production of hormones.

Anxiety and stress create a hormonal imbalance in the body which increases the level of cortisol and decreases testosterone. It is important to seek therapy and mental health support to treat stress and anxiety. 

Conclusion

Low levels of testosterone can negatively impact our lives and prevent the smooth functioning of our day to day activities. If a person faces any of the symptoms of low testosterone production in the body, he should not avoid it and immediately consult a doctor. Testosterone levels can be improved through medication and lifestyle changes.