Low testosterone, also called hypogonadism, is a condition whereby levels of the male sex hormone drop below the 300 ng/dL threshold. When testosterone levels become too low, men may experience a variety of symptoms. These include:
- Reduced libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced muscle mass
- Mood changes
- Lack of energy
- Worsened physical performance
What causes low testosterone in men?
Hypogonadism is one of the main causes of low testosterone in men. The condition is due to the testicles not producing enough of the hormone because of disruptions in brain signaling.
There are a few other causes for low testosterone, these include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
Various research studies have shown that obesity is a major risk factor for reduced testosterone levels. Scientists expect that this is due to excess levels of insulin hampering the production of testosterone. One study in 2,100 men found that low testosterone was 2.4x higher in men with obesity, 2.1x higher in diabetics and 1.8x higher in those with high blood pressure.
An analysis of multiple research papers found that men with low testosterone may also have an increased risk of diabetes whilst high levels may be protective against diabetes.
If you think you may be experiencing low testosterone levels, do not panic. Testosterone naturally declines in men as they age. This process could begin in your 20s but is more likely to become noticeable after the age of 40 years when hormone levels decline by about 1.5% per year.
Make sure you see a doctor to have your blood tested if you experience any of the symptoms above or have been diagnosed with one of the main causes of low testosterone.
Hypogonadism in young men
Testosterone levels naturally decline with advanced age. In patients aged 40 years or younger, symptoms of the condition may already become apparent at levels below 400 ng/dL. Symptoms include:
- A drop in energy levels
- Mood changes (feeling depressed or sad)
- Reduced physical strength and endurance
- Reduced work performance
If you suspect low testosterone, it’s best to make an appointment for a blood test. This will quickly help determine if your hormone levels are too low.
- Grossmann, M., Tang Fui, M., & Dupuis, P. (2014). Lowered testosterone in male obesity: Mechanisms, morbidity and management. Asian Journal of Andrology, 16/2: 223. https//doi.org/10.4103/1008-682x.122365
- MULLIGAN, T., FRICK, M., ZURAW, Q., STEMHAGEN, A., & MCWHIRTER, C. (2008). Prevalence of hypogonadism in males aged at least 45 years: the HIM study. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 60/7: 762-769. https//doi.org/10.1111/j.1742-1241.2006.00992.x
- Scovell, J., Ramasamy, R., Wilken, N., Kovac, J., & Lipshultz, L. (2015). Hypogonadal symptoms in young men are associated with a serum total testosterone threshold of 400 ng/dL. BJU International, 116/1: 142-146. https//doi.org/10.1111/bju.12970
- Sargis, R., & Davis, A. (2018). Evaluation and Treatment of Male Hypogonadism. JAMA, 319/13: 1375. https//doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.3182
- Yao, Q. M., Wang, B., An, X. F., Zhang, J. A., & Ding, L. (2018). Testosterone level and risk of type 2 diabetes in men: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Endocrine connections, 7(1), 220–231. https//doi.org/10.1530/EC-17-0253