Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It is naturally produced in the male body and is key to many vital processes that occur throughout a man’s life. As a man ages, testosterone levels change and generally peak during the late teens or early 20s, and they are usually higher during a man’s younger years and significantly lower after the age of 50.
What roles does testosterone play in male sexual and reproductive development?
From even before birth, testosterone already plays a major role in several vital bodily functions and processes in men.
Testosterone is key in many physical changes in the male human body, such as:
Muscle and bone strength and mass
Testosterone is essential in the growth and development of muscles and bones that are strong and healthy. Its work is especially notable during the puberty stage when a boy experiences a growth spurt.
Red blood cell production
Testosterone facilitates the production of new red blood cells to help in the proper circulation of blood in the body and ensuring that enough blood flows to the different vital organs and systems.
Body hair growth
Testosterone promotes the growth of different body hair, such as pubic hair, facial hair, underarm hair, chest hair, and arm and leg hair, particularly once a boy enters puberty.
Testosterone is key to the deepening of the voice that a boy goes through once he is in the puberty stage.
Increase in height
Testosterone supports the increase in height that a boy experiences as he ages, most notably the growth spurt that occurs during puberty.
Testosterone is also essential in a man’s sexual development, including:
Testosterone regulates a man’s libido or sex drive. If there is not enough testosterone, there is a risk of low libido or loss of interest in sex.
Testosterone makes it easier for men to get and maintain erections for sex. If testosterone levels are low, there is an increased risk of erectile issues that may eventually develop into erectile dysfunction.
Testosterone plays an important role in the production of sperm. If there is a lack of testosterone, there is an increased risk of low sperm count, poor sperm quality and motility, and infertility.
Testosterone contributes to a man’s mood and mental health too. According to medical experts, cells in a man’s brain have testosterone receptors that can detect testosterone levels, and if low levels are sensed, mood swings, fatigue, decreased energy levels, and symptoms of depression may occur.
How do you determine if your testosterone levels are low?
To detect low testosterone levels in the body, you need to undergo what is called a testosterone level test. It not only can accurately diagnose low testosterone, but it can also help in the diagnosis of infertility and erectile dysfunction.
If you want to get a testosterone level test, you should talk to your doctor about it first. They may refer you to a medical facility that offers the test, and give you some advice on how to prepare for it.
Ideally, you should take a testosterone level test in the morning, particularly between 7 am and 10 am, as these hours are when your body’s testosterone levels are at their peak.
During a testosterone level test, a sample of your blood is drawn usually from a vein in your arm. It is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. This should take only a few minutes.
Once your test results are back, you have to see your doctor again. In general, the normal testosterone level range in men is around 270 milligrams per deciliter to 1,070 milligrams per deciliter. If your test results show a value that is below 270 milligrams per deciliter, you have low testosterone and must discuss with your doctor how to treat the problem as soon as possible.
What are the negative side effects of low testosterone?
A decrease in your testosterone levels can trigger several physical, sexual, and mental changes, including:
- Reduced bone density and muscle mass
- Increased body fat
- Decreased body hair
- Reduced energy levels
- Sleep difficulties
- Decreased libido or sex drive
- Trouble getting and sustaining firm and long-lasting erections
- Low sperm count
- Increased risk of erectile dysfunction and infertility
- Underdeveloped male genitalia
- Mood swings
- Increased stress
- Reduced motivation
- Reduced self-confidence
- Poor memory
- Lack of focus
What treatment options are available for low testosterone in men?
There are several treatment options available to boost testosterone levels in men. Depending on the severity of your condition, the cause of the problem, and other factors, your doctor may recommend any of the following:
Many cases of low testosterone are brought about by poor habits and unhealthy practices. If you excessively consume alcohol, smoke, or use illicit drugs, you should know that these substances can negatively impact your body’s testosterone production. Until you quit them, you would not see any change in your testosterone levels.
Poor diet and physical inactivity can also contribute to low testosterone, so you need to include more fruits and vegetables, lean meat, and whole grains in your daily meals, and start exercising regularly to boost your testosterone levels.
There are a variety of testosterone therapy methods that your doctor may prescribe to you.
To increase your testosterone levels, they may recommend that you use testosterone injections and get a shot every one to two weeks; testosterone gels or patches, which you have to apply directly onto your skin every day to boost your testosterone; or pellets, which you have to insert under your skin, usually of the buttocks, to raise your testosterone levels.
Male performance-enhancing supplements can help boost testosterone levels and improve your libido or sex drive, allowing you to enjoy more pleasurable and satisfactory moments in the bedroom.