August 1st, 2016
According to latest estimates reported by the Urology Care Foundation, about 4 of 10 males over the age of 45 years have low testosterone levels (also clinically referred to as hypogonadism). Unfortunately, the diagnosis of hypogonadism is delayed in most cases since most symptoms are non-specific, such as loss of sexual drive, lethargy and difficulty in concentrating at work.
Low testosterone levels not only affects your sexual life but can also have a negative impact on your overall physical and mental health. Various clinical studies have linked hypogonadism to an increased risk of developing diabetes type2, hypertension, and high cholesterol levels in the men (2). Following are the 10 alarming signs that indicates you might have low levels of testosterone. It is highly recommended to seek help from a registered practitioner to detect testosterone deficiency at an early age for prompt management.
1. Increase in body weight:
Risk of hypogonadism is fairly high in obese males. This is mainly because, accumulation of fat cells alters the normal hormonal metabolism. According to a new study reported in the European Journal of Endocrinology (2) journal, investigators suggested that high concentration of adipose tissues facilitate the peripheral conversion of testosterone into estrogen (via an enzyme known as aromatase).
Modification in lifestyle, such as eating healthy food and regular exercise can help in restoring normal testosterone levels (2). However, it is imperative to mention that investigators are not completely certain if a person develops obesity due to declining testosterone levels or vice versa (2). It is therefore advised to see a healthcare professional for medical workup.
2. Tiredness Or Unexplained Fatigue:
Feeling tired or fatigued after mild work or feeling less motivated to engage in day-to day activities can also be a sign of low testosterone levels (2, 3). This is mainly because testosterone is an anabolic hormone i.e. it increases basal metabolic rate (or energy generation via degradation of dietary nutrients).
3. Low Sexual Drive
Gradual loss of interest in sexual activities is normal with advancing age, but unexpected, abrupt or sudden loss of libido is almost always suggestive of testosterone deficiency. It is also one of the most common reason why people see a healthcare professional for the evaluation of hypogonadism (3).
Inadequate serum levels of testosterone also interferes with the normal quality of sleep. For example, sleep apnea is a common disorders that is not directly related to hypogonadism but has been reported more frequently in obese or overweight individuals (2, 3). Various clinical studies also indicates that patients with sleep apnea also have concomitant low testosterone levels (and therefore has a dual relationship). Therefore, if you are experiencing sleep disordered breathing, excessive weariness and you snore too much, then you should consult your doctor for possible hypogonadism.
5. Erectile Dysfunction
Your sex hormone, testosterone is responsible for maintaining your erections for sufficient amount of time because it regulates several sexual functions including, proper flow of blood and circulation towards penis, induction of sexual drive and sensations etc. Therefore, men who have low testosterone levels often experiences difficulty in achieving or maintaining normal penile erections (3).
Due to disturbance in the levels of estrogen and testosterone, some men develop a condition called gynecomastia, which is marked by excessive development of male breast tissues (3).
Depression is one of the most important and common symptom of low testosterone levels (4).
8. Lack Of Concentration
Besides sexual functions, testosterone is also responsible for regulating higher mental functions such as concentration and focus. Therefore, hypogonadal men often reports difficulty in concentrating while taking care of important tasks or work, problem solving, multi-tasking and memory related issues (4).
9. Joint And Muscle Pain
Reduced levels of testosterone also decreases the mass and strength of muscles due to which muscle aches and pain in the joints are also experienced by men with low testosterone levels (5).
It is a common misconception that only women and elderly males develop osteoporosis, which is not true. Lower testosterone levels can reduce the density of bones, leading to osteoporosis and other bone related problems in hypogonadal men (5).
1. Jankowska, E. A., Tkaczyszyn, M., Węgrzynowska‐Teodorczyk, K., Majda, J., Haehling, S., Doehner, W., … & Ponikowski, P. (2014). Late‐onset hypogonadism in men with systolic heart failure: prevalence, clinical associates, and impact on long‐term survival. ESC Heart Failure, 1(1), 41-51.
2. Corona, G., Rastrelli, G., Monami, M., Saad, F., Luconi, M., Lucchese, M., … & Maggi, M. (2013). Body weight loss reverts obesity-associated hypogonadotropic hypogonadism: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Endocrinology, 168(6), 829-843.
3. Yassin, D. J., Doros, G., Hammerer, P. G., & Yassin, A. A. (2014). Long‐term testosterone treatment in elderly men with hypogonadism and erectile dysfunction reduces obesity parameters and improves metabolic syndrome and health‐related quality of life. The journal of sexual medicine, 11(6), 1567-1576.
4. Lašaitė, L., Čeponis, J., Preikša, R. T., & Žilaitienė, B. (2014). Impaired emotional state, quality of life and cognitive functions in young hypogonadal men. Andrologia, 46(10), 1107-1112.
5. Saad, F., Haider, A., Doros, G., & Traish, A. (2014, March). Progressive improvement of T-scores in middle-aged hypogonadal men with osteoporosis upon long-term treatment with testosterone. In JOURNAL OF MENS HEALTH (Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. A3-A3). 140 HUGUENOT STREET, 3RD FL, NEW ROCHELLE, NY 10801 USA: MARY ANN LIEBERT, INC.