Although found in both men and women, testosterone is the hormone we often associate with ‘manhood’ due to its role in male sexual and physical development. More recently, the medical community has been discussing a condition referred to as low testosterone. Production of this hormone in men typically begins to decrease after the age of 30. For each year over age 30, the level of testosterone in men starts to slowly dip at a rate of around 1 percent per year. This decrease in testosterone level is a natural result of aging, yet when levels fall below 300-1000 ng/dL they are considered abnormal, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Men can experience a range of negative symptoms when testosterone decreases more than it should.
Identifying key low testosterone symptoms and following up with proper lifestyle changes and treatment can have profound effects on quality of life. This is mainly due to men’s mental, physical, and emotional health being highly dependent on adequate testosterone levels to function properly.
Usually the biggest concern and most obvious symptom of low testosterone is loss of libido or lowered sex drive. Men may experience some decline in sex drive as they age. However, someone with low testosterone will likely experience a more drastic drop in his desire to have sex. This sex hormone also aids in achieving an erection. When levels are too low, a man may have difficulty achieving an erection prior to sex or experiencing spontaneous erections (for example, during sleep). Finally, testosterone also plays a role in the production of semen. The more testosterone a man has, the more semen he produces. Men with low levels will notice a decrease in the volume of their semen during ejaculation. This could play a role in fertility if trying to conceive.
Multiple physical symptoms may appear from low levels of testosterone. Hair loss is a natural part of the aging process for most men, but low testosterone can cause premature or excessive hair loss. Increased body fat and gynecomastia - a condition where a man develops excessive breast tissue - may be experienced as well. Because testosterone plays a role in the building and strengthening of muscle, men with low levels might notice a decrease in both muscle mass and strength. Those who try to reverse the muscle loss through weight training might find it difficult to build or rebuild muscle.
Similar to what women may experience during menopause, this drop in hormones can leave men experiencing fatigue, low energy and mood changes. Research also suggests that men with low testosterone are more likely to experience depression, irritability, or a lack of focus.
If you or your partner are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you may want to see a physician and consider lifestyle changes and integrative therapies. Research presented at the Endocrine Society’s 2012 conference discussed the link between weight and testosterone levels. Overweight men were more prone to having low testosterone levels, and shedding excess pounds may alleviate this problem. Exercise, specifically high intensity and strength training, have been shown to help boost levels as well.
Chronic stress can also take a toll on testosterone production. Therefore, stress management is equally important. Tools you can use to stay stress-free include prayer, meditation, laughter, and yoga. There is also a strong correlation between Vitamin D levels and testosterone production, so be sure you are getting enough time outdoors.
At TCRA, we use acupuncture, herbs formulated specifically for men, diet, and lifestyle suggestions to help our male patients. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms related to low testosterone, our experienced acupuncturists can help improve your fertility and your overall health.