If you’re feeling weak, depressed, or less frisky sexual than usual, you may have low testosterone levels. Testosterone is often considered the “male sex hormone,” but it plays a role in far more than sex and reproduction. Symptoms of low levels can be difficult to pinpoint, especially when they occur from middle age and beyond, a time when they can be mistaken for effects of aging. If you’re experiencing the below symptoms more than occasionally, schedule an exam. Low testosterone is treatable, and early diagnosis can help prevent complications down the road.
Testosterone plays an important role in emotional wellbeing. If you’re on the low side, you might notice that activities that normally bring you joy or lift your spirits don’t do so as much. In some cases, low testosterone (low T) is linked with clinical depression, which is more severe. If you’re already prone to depression low levels of the hormone could exacerbate or trigger symptoms flare-ups. When this is the case, seeing your therapist can be an important treatment measure as well.
If you find yourself more interested in sleep or watching TV than engaging in sex as often, you could have low testosterone levels. Diminished sex drive is one of the most common symptoms of low T, and commonly mistaken for a byproduct of aging. And while there’s nothing wrong with desiring sex less frequently, these symptoms could lead to relationship difficulties and prevent you from reaping potential benefits of sex, such as reduced stress and stronger immune function.
Another reason sex may seem less appealing when you have low testosterone levels is its potential impact on your sexual function. It’s not uncommon for men with low T to experience erectile dysfunction, or consistent difficulty achieving or maintaining erections.
Low or missing sexual desire and erectile dysfunction associated with low testosterone levels can make pregnancy less likely, due to a reduction in intercourse. But that’s not the only reason low T can fuel infertility. Low testosterone levels can lead to reduced sperm production, so when you do engage in penetrative sex, less sperm is available for fertilizing your partner’s eggs.
Testosterone helps your body build muscles during puberty and maintain them through adulthood, so as levels decline, so might your muscle mass. As a result, you could feel weaker physically and have a more difficult time engaging in weight-bearing activities such as weight training or lifting heavy objects. After exerting yourself even moderately, low T can lead to a sense of fatigue and weakness — two other common symptoms that bring patients in for testing.
Testosterone helps ensure strong, healthy bones. When your levels dwindle and go unaddressed, your bones can become increasingly fragile, leading to osteoporosis and a greater likelihood of fractures. If low T has you exercising less frequently, you’ll also miss out on the bone-strengthening benefits of weight-resistance exercise. Luckily, early diagnosis and treatment of low testosterone can help prevent these problems.