Written by: Centre for Men's Health
Low testosterone, low T, male menopause, andropause, late onset hypogonadism and testosterone deficiency syndrome are just some of the names given to the condition that can wreck many men’s health and love lives, with a range of signs and symptoms, some of them serious. So what is low testosterone, what causes it and could you be suffering from it too?
What is testosterone?
First of all, let’s start with the basics: what is testosterone? In short, it is the hormone – the body’s chemical messenger – responsible for normal sexual development and function in men. However, its role in men’s bodies is wider ranging than that. The level and effectiveness of testosterone can have an impact on many aspects of men’s health, from their ability to get erections and enjoy sex to the strength of their bones and the functioning of the brain.
What is low testosterone?
A man suffers from low testosterone levels when the hormone is either not present in the blood in sufficient quantities or not enough is available for use by the body’s tissues.
Out of the total testosterone circulating in the blood, 40-50% is weakly bound to a type of protein called albumin and 50-60% is tightly bound to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), a protein produced by the liver. This means only 1-3% is left circulating as free testosterone. This is just one of many factors that can affect how active testosterone actually is in a man’s body,
Low testosterone causes
As the Centre for Men’s Health’s founder, Professor Malcolm Carruthers, explains in his book Testosterone Resistance, low testosterone levels and activity can be caused in many different ways. Infections like mumps, stress, heavy drinking, obesity, trauma to the testes and certain prescription drugs can all have a negative impact.
All this means that your total testosterone level on its own, while important to test and monitor before and during any treatment, can’t tell you whether you are suffering from low testosterone or not. In order to reach a diagnosis of low testosterone or testosterone deficiency syndrome you will need a full blood test covering a wide spectrum of measures to reach a complete understanding of your hormonal health. Your doctor should also take a complete medical history and undertake a physical examination, in addition to a detailed discussion of your symptoms. This is to exclude the possibility that your symptoms might be related to other health problems.
16 Signs of low testosterone
Low testosterone can show itself in a number of different ways. Low T symptoms include:
- Decline in feeling of general wellbeing and health;
- Decrease in libido/sexual desire
- Joint pain and muscular ache, including general back ache or lower back pain;
- Excessive sweating/night sweats and hot flushes;
- Decrease in the number of morning erections;
- Decrease in the ability to perform sexually/frequency of sex;
- Decrease in beard growth;
- Feeling burnt out and having reached rock bottom/that you have passed your peak;
- Depressive mood or mood swings and lack of drive;
- Decrease in muscular strength;
- Physical exhaustion and lack of vitality;
- Increased need for sleep/often feeling tired;
- Sleep problems including difficulty in falling asleep, difficulty in sleeping through, waking up early.
- Brain fog or confusion;
The effects of low testosterone in men can be devastating for their quality of life. If you think you might be suffering, and want to know how to check for low T, try taking the free low T symptoms questionnaire. This has been validated by international researchers and will allow you to assess the level of your low testosterone symptoms.
What can I do about low T?
The good news is that low testosterone in men can be successfully treated with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), involving supplementing or stimulating the testosterone that a man’s body is already producing. There are a range of treatments to correct your low T levels that can be tailored to your needs and lifestyle, ranging from gels to testosterone injections. You can find out more about your low T therapy and treatment options here.