Often associated with bodybuilders, chiselled jawlines, and rugged Hollywood actors, testosterone is perhaps one of the most well-known hormones produced by the human body. That’s because the all-in-one “male hormone” not only helps to maintain the size and strength of muscles and bones, but it also plays an important role in regulating your sex drive (libido).
But what happens when your testosterone levels are lower than normal? A number of bodily changes can occur, including a reduction of muscle mass, sperm count, and bone density (meaning it may become easier to fracture bones).
Low testosterone levels can also lead to a reduced sex drive, which can cause erectile dysfunction (ED). This is because a diminished sex drive can make getting or maintaining an erection more difficult. Ultimately, this may hinder your ability to have sex, so if you’re experiencing ED then you should consider getting your testosterone levels measured with an at-home blood test.
What causes low testosterone?
As men age, their testosterone levels tend to naturally decrease by about 1-2% every year. This happens for a number of reasons. Firstly, the testes (the main producer of testosterone in the body) make less testosterone as men age. Secondly, the pituitary gland in the brain sends fewer signals to the testes to produce testosterone. Thirdly, the levels of a protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) increase with age, which reduces the active form of testosterone in the body.
There are also other potential causes for low testosterone, including:
- Uncontrolled type 2 diabetes
- Alcohol abuse
- Obstructive sleep apnoea
- Chemotherapy for cancer
- Anabolic steroid use
How can I tell if I have low testosterone?
The surest way to know if you have low testosterone is to take a blood test. Taking a blood test like the Fear Nothing Blood Test will allow you to track your testosterone levels over time. This twice-yearly blood test allows you to keep an eye on your testosterone levels throughout the year to help you monitor the impact of any lifestyle changes you make.
If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, then it’s recommended you get your testosterone levels measured to see if low testosterone is a contributing factor. Each Health MOT includes a free phone consultation with a UK doctor who will talk you through your results and give personalised health advice based on the outcome of your test.
As well as erectile dysfunction, there are also specific symptoms that you may experience if you have low testosterone. These include:
- Reduced sex drive (libido)
- Reduced sperm count
- Small testicles
- Reduced body and facial hair (including facial hair)
- Loss of lean muscle mass
- Increased breast size (i.e. the development of “man boobs”)
- Hot flashes
- Feeling irritated more easily
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased bone density and an increased risk of fracture
Regardless of whether you experience these symptoms or not, the most accurate and reliable way to know if you have low testosterone is to take a blood test.
The bottom line
Testosterone is an important hormone that helps men to maintain a normal sperm count, sexual function, and muscle and bone strength. Low testosterone can cause a low sex drive and, as a consequence, erectile dysfunction. If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction or other symptoms of low testosterone, it’s best to take a blood test to help you determine if low testosterone is a contributing factor.