What Low Testosterone Means for Your Health
Here’s what men can expect as they age.
January 27th, 2014 by: Jennifer Hughes
As men age, their testosterone levels begin to decline. This change is a natural part of growing older, and can be accompanied by several symptoms and side effects, including substantial physical and emotional shifts. Read on to learn more about the functions that testosterone performs, and how it affects your body and mind.
WHO IS AFFECTED BY LOW TESTOSTERONE?
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 13 million men have low testosterone levels.
TESTOSTERONE’S MAIN FUNCTIONS
In men, testosterone helps maintain crucial bodily functions, like sex drive, sperm production, muscle mass and strength, fat distribution, bone density and red blood cell production.
HOW LOW TESTOSTERONE AFFECTS SEX
Men with declining testosterone levels are often concerned about the hormone’s effects on their libido and sexual performance. These symptoms can include a reduced desire for sex, a decrease in the number of spontaneous erections (for instance, those occurring during sleep) and infertility. The American Diabetes Association reports that 70 percent of men with low testosterone experience erectile dysfunction, while 63 percent of that group experiences a low sex drive.
HOW LOW TESTOSTERONE AFFECTS YOUR BODY
You may notice several physical changes occurring as your body’s testosterone levels decline. Men commonly experience an increase in fatigue and body fat, and a decrease in strength and muscle mass. Other side effects of lower testosterone include decreased body hair growth, swelling or tenderness in breast tissue and hot flashes. Lower testosterone also causes cholesterol levels to rise.
HOW LOW TESTOSTERONE AFFECTS SLEEP
Though low testosterone can cause fatigue, it can also trigger changes in sleep patterns, including insomnia. It’s important to know that some therapies to treat low testosterone levels can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea: a significant sleep issue that causes breathing to stop and start throughout the sleep cycle.
HOW LOW TESTOSTERONE AFFECTS YOUR EMOTIONAL WELLNESS
Dealing with the emotional changes that come with declining testosterone levels can be a challenge. Lower testosterone can lead to decreased self-confidence, sadness, depression, lack of motivation or an overall decrease in emotional well-being.
CONCERNED? GET CHECKED OUT
Though the listed symptoms may result from lower testosterone levels, they may also result as side effects of normal aging. Thyroid conditions, medication and alcohol use can cause some of the listed symptoms. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a blood test.