Testosterone is a hormone mainly found in males. It causes sex features like muscle mass, body hair, bones, and sexual attraction. It also helps create red blood cells and sperm.
Having low testosterone may come from diseases. Signs of low testosterone can include: no sex drive, impotence, tiredness, less body and facial hair, less muscle mass, hot flashes, depression, and other mood/behavior changes. If not treated, it can lead to infertility and risk of osteoporosis.
To know your testosterone level, you need to go to a doctor or endocrinologist. Different tests measure different hormones that control testosterone. To treat the low levels, the cause needs to be found first. Treatments may vary depending on the cause.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is found in both men and women. But, it is much higher in males. It is important for sperm production, sex drive, muscle mass, hair growth, bone density, red blood cells, and moods. Too high or too low levels can cause health issues, such as erectile dysfunction and infertility.
To make sure testosterone levels are normal, a blood test (serum testosterone) is used. The normal range for an adult male (age 19-49) is between 240ng/dl and 950ng/dl. Most males should measure between 350ng/dl and 900ng/dl.
A dangerously low level is usually accepted as any reading below 300ng/dL. Some medical professionals might even consider 250 ng/dL and lower as dangerously low.
Normal Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is a major hormone in the body. It helps with male growth and health. It is usual for testosterone levels to change slightly every day. Yet, there are some situations where testosterone levels can be far too low. This could be a warning sign of an ailment.
In this article, we will look at the regular testosterone levels and the risks of having low testosterone:
Normal testosterone levels for men are 300 to 1,200 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). This is the range given by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, this number can vary depending on the laboratory.
Testosterone levels peak in the early morning. In older men, a morning level less than 300 ng/dL might indicate a problem. Low testosterone can cause symptoms such as fatigue, depression and sexual dysfunction. These signs can also result from other medical issues, so it’s best to discuss any health concerns with your doctor.
It’s important to note that a low testosterone level doesn’t always mean “low T.” Doctors may use other tests to diagnose hypogonadism, such as:
- Hormone levels
Treatment includes lifestyle changes, supplements and injections of replacement hormones, like testosterone, to restore normal hormone production.
Women’s normal testosterone levels vary by age. Testosterone is a hormone made mostly in the ovaries and is essential for sex drive and keeping muscles and bones strong. Low testosterone can be caused by issues with the ovaries, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, or hypothalamus.
An exact test is needed for low testosterone because normal levels can differ a lot. The most suitable range for reproductive-aged women is 0.3-2 ng/dL according to ACOG. For postmenopausal women, the range may be lower. This is due to changes in ovarian functioning that normally occur during menopause. A woman’s testosterone level should never be lower than 0.2 ng/dL because this could show a deficiency needing treatment or lifestyle changes such as hormone therapy.
If a woman isn’t receiving treatment for hypogonadism or another condition causing low levels of testosterone, any reading below 1-2 ng/dL raises her risk of serious health issues like osteoporosis, anemia, decreased sex drive, and depression. Women whose normal test results are 0-1 ng/dL should get professional medical help right away to make sure they get the appropriate assessment and care if needed.
Causes of Low Testosterone
Testosterone is key for male sexual health. Low testosterone can have bad physical, mental, and emotional effects. Causes of low testosterone can be from lifestyle choices or medical conditions.
- Lifestyle causes include recreational drugs, lack of vitamins or nutrients, and physical or mental stress.
- Medical causes are age-related diseases, trauma, organ damage, pregnancy, and genetic defects.
Low testosterone can also be caused by hypothalamic issues. Aging messes with hormone releasing factors in the hypothalamus. This leads to decreased muscle mass, infertility, hot flashes, and depression. It’s important to talk to a healthcare provider if you have Low T, as it can lead to long-term health problems if left untreated.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Low testosterone, also called hypogonadism, occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone. Testosterone is the main male hormone and affects sexual development and features. It also helps keep muscle mass, bone density, sperm production, and general health. Low testosterone levels can cause uncomfortable symptoms and worse health issues if not dealt with.
Common symptoms of low testosterone include:
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Lack of muscle mass and strength
- Loss of body hair
- Decreased bone density
- No motivation or focus
- Enlarged or sensitive breasts (gynecomastia)
It is important to note that some men have lower levels than others and may not have any symptoms of low testosterone. However, if you experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor quickly for the right diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosis and Testing for Low Testosterone
Low testosterone, or hypogonadism, can be identified with a simple blood test. The physician looks at the total testosterone level. Adult males usually have a range from 300-1000 ng/dL. Anything below 300 is too low.
Age affects normal testosterone levels. As men age, the body produces less. Men aged 70+ have lower values than younger men (less than 250 ng/dL). Doctors must consider age when testing and diagnosing.
Further tests may be needed to find medical problems causing low testosterone levels. Tests for SHBG, prolactin, TSH and LH are used.
Treatment for Low Testosterone
Low testosterone levels can bring about many bad health results. These can include weak libido, loss of muscles and tiredness. Thankfully, there are treatments which can bring your hormone levels back to normal. This article will cover the treatments on offer and the hazards that come with them.
For low testosterone cases, lifestyle changes can be beneficial.
- Regular physical activities such as running, biking and swimming can increase testosterone levels and overall health.
- Strength training is also important for muscle mass and hormone balance.
- Reducing stress is vital for optimal hormone balance. Stress reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, breathwork or massage can help reduce cortisol and promote better functioning hormones.
- Make sure to get enough sleep. Proper rest helps the body to recuperate and produce hormones regulating fertility and libido. It also helps improve testosterone production.
- A healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals is essential for increasing natural testosterone levels. Foods rich in zinc, iron and magnesium should be included daily in meals. Fruits and vegetables are recommended for overall well-being and improved hormonal production.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an option for men with low testosterone. It involves giving the body a form of testosterone, either topically or by injection. This can help raise and maintain blood levels. Research has suggested HRT may improve symptoms like low desire, ED, fatigue, muscle loss, low bone mass, mood, and anemia.
Injections are usually the first step until the blood level is raised. After that, a topical form such as cream or gel can be applied daily. Pellets in combination with other treatments can also be used, depending on the individual’s needs.
Before therapy starts, the potential risks should be discussed with a medical provider. These include:
- Water retention
- Abnormal skin reactions due to topical gels and creams
It’s important to consider these risks before any Low Testosterone treatment.
Risks of Low Testosterone
Too little testosterone can be just as bad for health as too much. Men with low levels of testosterone are at risk of long-term health issues, including:
- Mood changes
- Fertility problems
- Lower bone density
- Poor attention span
- Reduced recall ability
- Cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke
- Low energy
- Decreased libido
- Muscle wastage
- Difficulty sleeping
It is suggested that men have their testosterone checked yearly. If it is low, treatment may be required for optimal health. Men should talk to a health professional about any related worries before treatment decisions are made.
Everyone’s “dangerously low” testosterone level is different. Age, health, and lifestyle all affect the “normal” range. So, work with your doctor to find the right testosterone level for you.
If you have a dangerously low level, take steps to increase it. Your doctor might suggest hormone replacement therapy, or changing your diet, exercising, and reducing stress. Zinc supplements can help your body make more testosterone.
Knowing the normal testosterone level for your age, and understanding how habits can lower testosterone, can help you keep safe levels into adulthood:
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Changing your diet
- Reducing stress
- Taking zinc supplements
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a dangerously low testosterone level?
A: A dangerously low testosterone level is a level that falls below 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). This can cause a range of symptoms including erectile dysfunction, infertility, decreased muscle mass, and decreased bone density.
Q: How is a low testosterone level diagnosed?
A: Low testosterone levels can be diagnosed through a blood test that measures the amount of testosterone in the body. The test is usually done in the morning when levels are at their highest.
Q: What causes low testosterone levels?
A: Low testosterone levels can be caused by a range of factors including aging, obesity, diabetes, and certain medications. It can also be caused by certain medical conditions such as hypogonadism.
Q: What are the symptoms of low testosterone levels?
A: The symptoms of low testosterone levels can include fatigue, decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, infertility, decreased muscle mass, and decreased bone density.
Q: What treatment options are available for low testosterone levels?
A: Treatment options for low testosterone levels include testosterone replacement therapy, dietary and lifestyle changes, and medication for underlying medical conditions like diabetes and obesity.
Q: Is it possible to prevent low testosterone levels?
A: While it may not be possible to completely prevent low testosterone levels, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and getting enough sleep.