How do you know if you have low testosterone?
Testosterone is known as a sex hormone, given it is primarily responsible for facilitating sex drive and sperm production in men. Testosterone is first produced by the testes during puberty, though levels can decline steadily from around the age of 30.
For many men, this decline will not bring any noticeable symptoms; however, for others, various issues can develop, including:
- Low libido
- Tiredness/low energy
- Mood swings
- Weight gain.
1. Low libido
Given that testosterone has been termed a sex hormone, it should come as no surprise to learn that falling testosterone levels can result in low libido, or low sex drive.
As mentioned, testosterone enables sperm production and sex drive so, without enough of it, the desire for sex can decline and erectile dysfunction may also become problematic, particularly in older men.2
It is important to note that low libido can also be linked to physical and psychological problems, including stress, depression and anxiety.
2. Tiredness/low energy
Tiredness and low energy can arise as a direct result of low testosterone though, of course, other factors such as stress and diet may have a part to play in these issues as well.
In addition, low testosterone can disrupt sleep, which may increase the likelihood of experiencing tiredness and low energy during the day.
Testosterone levels rise during sleep so, if you aren't getting enough of it, hormone levels can fall, thus further contributing to the problem.
As this hormone is involved in some key bodily processes, this may explain why a lack of testosterone can leave us feeling fatigued.
3. Mood swings
Testosterone can influence neurobehavioral functions including memory and emotions meaning low mood, mood swings and irritability can arise when levels are low.
Also, the other symptoms of low testosterone, such as those listed above, can be quite distressing which may further contribute to changes in mood.
Added to this is the fact that low testosterone can lead to low energy levels, meaning it's unlikely you'll feel like exercising or moving much. This is problematic as exercise can do a great deal for our mood, helping to release feel-good hormones which increase overall feelings of positivity. So, if you are exercising less as a result of low testosterone, it could go on to contribute to low mood.
4. Weight gain
Another area that testosterone influences is weight management, since it seems to have a role to play in metabolism. This goes some way towards explaining why weight gain can become a problem when testosterone levels are low.
Many men will find that the weight becomes most noticeable around the breast tissue and belly.
Dealing with low testosterone
Whilst the issues discussed above can indicate low testosterone, it is always worth speaking to your doctor just to rule out any other possible cause. If low testosterone does turn out to be the issue, your doctor will be able to advise on dietary and lifestyle changes that may help or, where appropriate, they may suggest the likes of talking therapy or medication.
In the meantime, below I've listed some steps that may help to manage symptoms.
Exercise – this can have benefits for mood, weight and stress levels. Trying a new activity can also be a great confidence boost, and provides the opportunity to meet new people. Our Get Active hub has loads of tips on how to do more.
Reduce stress – whether it's taking on a little less at work, or sharing the load at home, taking steps to reduce your overall stress may help to manage symptoms including tiredness and low mood. It may also be worth trying Stress Relief Daytime which contains Valerian and Hops to help reduce mild stress and anxiety.
Manage body weight – eating well and exercising more are the best steps towards a healthier waistline. Balance your intake of meat, fish and wholegrains with plenty of fruit and vegetables. For more advice, read my blog 'Managing body weight – tips and advice'.
Sleep more – this is a tricky one to achieve, but getting more sleep can have a positive knock-on effect on the symptoms of low testosterone. Some helpful tips include: relaxing before bed, avoiding technology after 9pm and making your bedroom a calming space (with no television or work in sight!).