Testosterone is, perhaps, one of the most well-known androgens (male sex hormones) produced in the bodies of men and women. Men have a much higher level of this hormone than women, it is synthesized mainly in the testicles and some of it in the adrenal glands. This hormone is responsible for male characteristics, sexual development and the following functions:
- Sexual (sex drive, erection, semen production)
- Growth and maintenance of the muscle mass
- Muscle-to-fat ratio;
- Bone tissue density
- Production of red blood cells
The decrease in testosterone levels in men is a part of the natural and irreversible process of aging (as well as hair loss and other age-related changes). In addition to natural aging, the overall men’s health, lifestyle, bad habits and other factors play an important part in testosterone decline. Thus, certain chronic diseases lead to lowered levels of hormones. Knowing the main signs of low testosterone in men helps to recognize the problem sooner and get adequate treatment.
The maintenance of the energy function of the body is one of the actions of testosterone. The feeling of constant tiredness, apathy and indifference to hobbies, long period of recovery after intense physical activities – these are the signs of lack of vitality. Testosterone influences the behavior of a man – it is responsible for stress tolerance, ambitiousness, the stability of the mind and zest for life. Prolonged and stable depressed mood as well as drastic mood swings, insomnia, reduced creativity and chronic fatigue may indicate a decrease in the level of testosterone.
Reduced quality of sex life is probably the most disturbing problem men face when experiencing low level of testosterone. Usually this symptom is one of the first signs of hormonal imbalance in male body. Lowered libido implies a decrease or total absence of desire for sexual contact, reduction in erotic fantasies, etc. Many men experience natural decrease in sex drive as they age; however, those who have low testosterone due to other causes also suffer from a drastic decrease in sexual desire.
Decreased strength, muscle mass and stamina
Testosterone has an anabolic influence on the body which means it promotes the development of strength and endurance and the growth of muscles. Many sports depend on the effect of testosterone, including powerlifting and bodybuilding. Male sex hormone interferes with the destructive processes happening in the muscles. That is why loss of muscle mass is an obvious sign of deficiency of androgens.
Testosterone not only stimulates desire for sex in men, it also helps to achieve and maintain erection. On its own it does not cause erection but it activates certain receptors in the brain to produce nitric oxide which in its turn triggers a series of chemical reactions required for the development of erection. Erection is the result of the penis being filled with blood. When testosterone level is too low, a man can have difficulties with erection during sex and with spontaneous erections at night. Although low testosterone can affect erection, it is not always the main cause of such problem.
Increased fat tissue mass
Testosterone plays a key role in protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Decrease in the levels of testosterone is associated with elevated fat mass (particularly, central adiposity which contributes to abdominal obesity). It is important to mention that as low testosterone can cause the deposition of excess fat, obesity also provokes testosterone deficiency – it is a vicious circle which leads to aggravation of the condition.