Falling testosterone levels can cause men all sorts of problems which are often just attributed to middle age. But what are the main symptoms and why is this happening?
Testosterone is a hormone produced primarily by men in their testicles. This hormone plays a hugely important role in male development. This hormone kick starts sexual development and crucially maintains healthy sexual function, the ability to maintain muscle mass, and along with your thyroid regulates your metabolism.
It is normal after about the age of 30 for a guy’s hormone levels to start to reduce, typically between 1-2% every year. The decline is usually slow unless other health issues are a factor such as obesity, one of the major causes of reduced testosterone levels in men.
Many men will not initially be aware, or even notice any symptoms of this fall in levels however, middle-aged spread, lack of motivation, even a drop-in libido, may all be passed off “as just getting older.” When you start to look at the list of symptoms that are associated with testosterone deficiency it may surprise you that this is actually a medical issue.
What are the Main Symptoms of Falling Testosterone Levels?
A Drop in Energy.
A marked drop in energy is very common in men with falling testosterone levels. Not having the energy or inclination to exercise, feeling tired all the time, and a lack of motivation are all symptoms. If this doesn’t improve with plenty of rest and enough sleep, you may have a problem. In turn, this can make sleep patterns even more disrupted. The good news is with the right treatment, you could correct your testosterone levels and regain control.
Sleep and falling testosterone levels are interconnected. Rather annoyingly sleep disturbance and a lack of exercise can also cause testosterone levels to decrease. Testosterone issues can cause insomnia and other disruptions to your sleep pattern because of how this hormone interacts with others in your body. The question of whether low testosterone levels can directly cause interrupted sleep is answered very simply as no. It is a lack of sleep which causes testosterone levels to decline and the lack of testosterone then causes the problems.
In one study (Rachel Leproult, Ph.D, and Eve Van Cauter Ph.D.) they took a group of ten healthy young men, with an average age of 24.3. In the first week, they slept eight hours each night in their own homes. They then had three nights with 10-hour sleep followed eight nights of 5-hour sleep in a sleep laboratory setting. The results were startling, their testosterone levels had decreased between 10 and 15% compared to their previous levels. They also noticed (rather unsurprisingly) that their energy (vigor) levels had significantly reduced.
Another important factor is that when you are not getting enough sleep you become more stressed. Stress causes the release of other hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. These stress hormones are what make you feel anxious and on edge. If these levels are constantly elevated this diminishes testosterone production. Not a great combination when it comes to a good night’s sleep.
Memory Fog, Lack of Focus and Concentration
When one thinks about memory or mental function, falling testosterone levels don’t normally come to mind. Yet, when we get older our minds certainly are not a sharp as they used to be. How many senior moments have you had lately?
It is no coincidence that when testosterone levels begin to decline, mental functions may also slow down. Many sufferers from falling testosterone levels report that after starting replacement therapy it is like a fog lifting, cognitive ability becomes much sharper, they have improved memory and a better ability to work out problems. Ultimately testosterone plays a major role in mental agility, affecting your ability to perform daily tasks to the best of your ability.
There are very few definitive studies into this however, it could possibly be due to testosterone’s positive effects on sleep patterns, energy levels, and general wellbeing. When you are well-rested and generally fit and healthy you tend to be sharper mentally and have more ability to think clearly.
Lack of Libido and Erection Problems
Being such an important sex hormone, testosterone deficiency can have a huge impact on libido. For many men low testosterone is like being a sports car running low on gas, going nowhere fast. It is not only a lack of desire which can be a problem though, indirectly falling testosterone levels can cause other sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction and a lack of satisfaction during sex.
Testosterone isn't the exclusive fuel for your sexual desire, but it can reduce the desire and ability to have a satisfying sex life. Defining what is a normal sex drive is not easy, it is also normal for a man's drive to peak and decline from his mid-twenties. What one man thinks is normal compared to another is impossible to quantify, how sexual desire varies and is affected by stress, sleep, and availability. If a man sees himself as having a low sex drive, his partner may totally disagree and vice versa.
Falling testosterone levels won't always kill your libido. Some will have the same desires even with really low testosterone levels. For others, libido can be non-existent with relatively normal levels. The fact remains though that nearly all men will experience a decline in sex drive when levels are very low.
Pinpointing exactly how testosterone affects sexual function is next to impossible. falling testosterone levels can create depression, weight gain, lack of confidence, poor sleep patterns, a drop in energy levels, and other issues. All have a huge impact on a man's ability to perform in the bedroom. With an effective treatment plan in place, all these symptoms can be dealt with and will inevitably improve your sexual desire, performance, and ultimately satisfaction.
Your metabolism is powered by testosterone and thyroid function, if either of these is out of balance then you won't have the ability you had in younger life to burn excessive fat. There is no coincidence that as your testosterone levels decline your waist may start to expand.
In young healthy men, testosterone and thyroid are working together as the perfect aid to weight loss. Testosterone helps build muscle mass, which in turn increases your insulin sensitivity, maintaining metabolic health, and a better ability to burn fat.
When you get older this perfect fat-burning system starts to deteriorate, due to a slow in the levels of available testosterone, in some cases a lack of thyroid function, or both. Unfortunately, this means your body cannot deal with fat (especially visceral fat) in the same way, leading to middle age spread and even obesity.
As you can see this system is incredibly important but once the system is faulty, it is very hard to fix without help. As your fat deposits increase your testosterone production will generally decrease, contributing to insulin resistance. So now instead of carbs being used up by your body, some are shipped off to your fat deposits. Being overweight impairs testosterone production, your body finds it more difficult to increase lean muscle mass and the vicious circle continues.
The main point is that optimum testosterone is vital for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. There is a healthy balance between muscle and fat at which you will look and feel your best. Testosterone therapy is not the ultimate "fix-all," exercise and a healthy lifestyle are also vital in terms of testosterone production, maintaining a healthy weight, and being at your peak. However, testosterone replacement therapy and thyroid medication can ensure they are working in tandem for optimal performance. This will enable your body to function at its best, increase lean muscle mass, and battle the excess bulge.
Inability to Gain Muscle
Loss of muscle is called 'wasting' and is a sign of falling testosterone levels. A precursor to this symptom is often feeling weaker, tired, and generally lacking in energy. Muscle cells contain androgen receptors that are sensitive to testosterone when these receptors bind with testosterone, they maintain lean muscle mass. When testosterone levels drop this process stops and muscle starts to become weaker.
To make matters worse low levels also increase fat deposits which slow testosterone production further. Fat cells promote the production of an enzyme called aromatase which converts testosterone to Estradiol. Why is making estradiol from fat bad? Estradiol from fat has a negative feedback mechanism on the production of testosterone thus dropping your testosterone levels. That is why obese men have so many problems. In this case, it is not the estradiol causing the problems it is the fat. The estradiol is simply an innocent bystander that happens to knock down your testosterone.
What Can You Do About Falling Testosterone Levels?
The good news is that therapy is now available to men who want to stop the decline in testosterone levels and reach their peak once more. Testosterone replacement therapy used to be only offered to guys with clinically low-T. It is now available off-label for those who wish to reach optimum levels for the preservation of their long term health and well being. By maintaining healthy testosterone levels, you can avoid the pitfalls and, in most cases, reverse the decline and alleviate symptoms.
You can increase levels somewhat through exercise and healthy living but for many, this may not be enough to alleviate symptoms of lower testosterone levels. Certainly, if you are overweight, losing excess fat will help with general health and testosterone production. But as discussed before once this cycle of falling hormone levels has started it is very difficult to reverse without help.
With an evidence-based approach, Male Excel's specialist doctors will look at all your symptoms along with a simple blood spot test that can accurately diagnose exactly what is wrong. From there we can design a bespoke treatment plan looking at testosterone and thyroid levels to get you back to where you should be. Adding testosterone therapy allows you to lose more weight and gain muscle more easily. It will also help with energy levels, improve libido and sexual function, and put the spring back in your step.