Testosterone is crucial for building muscle and fueling your sex drive.
But receptors for the hormone actually exist throughout your body, from your brain to your bones to your blood vessels.
So if youre low on T, the health outcomes could extend far beyond the gym and the bedroom, mentions University of Washington endocrinologist Bradley Anawalt, M.D ., a spokesperson for the Endocrine Society.
The eight symptoms that follow arent proof of low testosterone on their own. Youll require two blood tests proving low levelsusually around 300 nanograms per declileter( ng/ dL) or lower, is dependent on the labbefore your doctor makes an official low testosterone diagnosis, Dr. Anawalt says.
The good news is, if low T is truly to blame, many of the health side effects of low testosterone can be reversed, or at the least improved, with testosterone therapy.
1. LOW TESTOSTERONE SYMPTOM: YOUR SEX DRIVE DISAPPEARS .
Perhaps the best-known, quickest, and most frequent effect of low T is low libido, mentions urologist Philip Werthman, M.D ., director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Vasectomy Reversal in Los Angeles.
In fact, nearly every patient who comes to his office with known or suspected low T complains of a lack of sex stomach. Besides craving less sexuality, men with low T may also masturbate less and report fewer fantasies and erotic dreams.
Brain areas involved with sexual desire, including the amygdala, are packed with testosterone receptors, mentions S. Adam Ramin, M.D ., urologic surgeon and medical director of Urology Cancer Specialists in Los Angeles.
The hormone fits inside them like a lock inside a key, illuminating them up to arouse you. Without it, youre missing a critical step in the turn-on process.
This lack of desire to have sex can cause problems with erections, though low T doesnt directly affect the plumbing involved in get or biding hard, Dr. Ramin says.
2. LOW TESTOSTERONE SYMPTOM: YOUR MUSCLES SHRINK .
Ample testosterone puts your body in an anabolic, or muscle-building, government by helping your body create and assemble proteins that form the building blocks of lean mass.
When your testosterone degrees plummet, your body becomes catabolic instead, breaking down muscle tissue instead of house it up, Dr. Werthman mentions.
At first, you might notice that its tougher to push just as much weight at the gym or construct muscle, he notes.
Related : Whats the Most Muscle You Can Gain ?
And after a few weeks of low T, you can expect to lose muscle mass, Dr. Anawalt says.
In fact, in one Japanese survey, men with low free testosterone levelsa measure of the amount of hormone available to bind to receptorshad double to triple the risk of muscle loss with aging as those with normal levels.
3. LOW TESTOSTERONE SYMPTOM: YOUR PENIS MAY GET SMALLER, TOO .
Without a steady flowing of testosterone, the tissues in your penis, scrotum, and testicles can atrophy, or wither, mentions Dr. Ramin.
As a ensue, your penis might lose length and circumference. You may notice your balls diminish, toothey often wither to half the size and become squishy instead of firm, he mentions.
Though testosterone replacement therapy wont bring back your testicular volume, when it comes to your penis, the treatment has a good chance of restoring its beauty, Dr. Ramin mentions.( In reality, testosterone therapy in boys with a micropenis can increase different sizes by up to an inch and a half, according to a study in the Indian Journal of Urology .)
4. LOW TESTOSTERONE SYMPTOM: YOUR BELLY GROWS .
Even as you lose size where it counts, you gain it where it hurts, Dr. Anawalt mentions.
In one Australian study, men with prostate cancer gained 14 percentage more body fat and 22 percentage more visceral fat after one year of androgen deprivation therapy, a treatment which becomes off testosterones effects.
Visceral fat is the deep abdominal fat that forms around your organs and increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease.
In men, low testosterone may increase the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, such studies authors suspect. This compound drives circulating building blocks called lipids into visceral fat cells, plumping them up.
5. LOW TESTOSTERONE SYMPTOM: YOUR Recollection FALTERS .
Trouble with thinking and memory often occurs in men with low T, Dr. Werthman mentions.
In 2015 survey from Australia, men whose testosterone degrees declined over 5 years likewise experienced a drop in scores on exams of their mental part and memory.
Besides the amygdala, regions of the brain important for memory and attentionsuch as the cerebrumalso have testosterone receptors.
When theres not sufficient of the hormone pumping in to those receptors, your brain cells may not be able to function as well, such studies authors note.
6. LOW TESTOSTERONE SYMPTOM: YOUR MOOD TANKS .
Some of the side effects of low testosteronesuch as sex dysfunction and weight gaincan bring on the blues. But theres likewise evidence of a more direct effect of low testosterone on feeling.
According to research in the Endocrine Journal , 23 percentage of young men with freshly diagnosed low testosterone satisfied the criteria for depression, compared to only five per cent of young guys with normal levels of the hormone.
Empty testosterone receptors in brain areas linked to feeling are likely responsible for your depressed government, Dr. Ramin mentions.
Whats more, feeling ailments like depression or nervousnes can kick off a vicious circle, he notesdepression can inhibit your testicles ability to produce testosterone, worsening the problem.
7. LOW TESTOSTERONE SYMPTOM: YOUR BONES WEAKEN .
Bone is actually living tissue, constantly broken down and rebuilt, Dr. Ramin says.
When testosterone degrees fall, your bone breaks down faster than your body can construct it back up.
As a ensue, youre at a higher danger of low bone concentration, osteoporosis, and fractures, Dr. Anawalt mentions.
8. LOW TESTOSTERONE SYMPTOM: YOUR HEART MIGHT BE AT RISK .
The effect of testosterone degrees on the risk of heart problems has stoked dispute among experts, Dr. Anawalt mentions.
On one side, low levels of testosterone may be linked to heart problems. In reality, one survey from the U.K. seen men with low T had a greater risk of dying from heart disease than men with normal levels.
This may be because testosterone can help open up blood vessels to the heart, permitting blood to flow more freely.
But on the flip side, some studies have suggested that testosterone therapyespecially in older men or those with existing heart conditionsmight increases the likelihood of heart attack or stroke. Experts think it may thicken the blood, making a clot more likely.
It seems that the extra testosterone might be elevating degrees too high, Dr. Anawalt mentions.
So if youre successful candidates for testosterone therapy, make sure you talk to your doctor about both benefits and health risks, Dr. Werthman mentions.
Your doctor may test your testosterone degrees after you first start therapy or change dosagesor sometimes between shootings, if youre receiving treatment by injectionto make sure your degrees arent surging too high, Dr. Anawalt mentions.
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