Low testosterone is a condition that many aren’t familiar with, may not be comfortable discussing, and may not even know they’re suffering from. While hormonal imbalances are common in both men and women, the stigma associated with low testosterone sometimes prevents an early and effective diagnosis of the symptoms.
That doesn’t have to be the case. By learning about low testosterone, including its causes, treatments, and symptoms, both men and women can pursue an effective treatment plan that restores testosterone levels and gives them a new lease on life.
Low Testosterone: Not Just a Male Condition
Testosterone is almost always discussed in the context of being a “male hormone,” but that’s just not the case. Both men and women have testosterone, and both genders can suffer from an abnormally low level of testosterone that can affect their daily lives.
Due to the different levels of testosterone in men and women, the most common symptoms do vary between the genders. Becoming familiar with these symptoms is the first step to diagnosis and effective treatments.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone for Men and Women Vary
Men are more likely to experience a low level of testosterone, especially as they enter middle age. The most common symptoms associated with this condition in men include any or all of the following:
- Rapid decrease in muscle mass
- Marked increase in irritability
- Decrease in libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Chronic, even severe, depression
- Reduced facial and body hair growth
- Decrease in intellectual function
Women can also experience quite an array of negative symptoms if their testosterone levels are lower than recommended. Some of these are the same as the symptoms that affect men, but many are unique. Women should keep an eye out for the symptoms below.
- Decreasing bone mass
- Trouble sleeping
- Decrease in libido
- Hair loss
- Simultaneous loss of muscle mass and increase in body fat
- Fatigue, depression, apathy
- Menstrual cycle disruptions
For both men and women, the symptoms of having low testosterone are quite serious. Depression, irritability, chronic fatigue, and even sexual side effects, can have a significantly negative impact on daily routines and a person’s overall life. This is why prompt diagnosis and consistent treatment essential when you have lower-than-average testosterone levels.
So, What Causes Low Testosterone?
As soon as someone realizes that their low testosterone levels may be to blame for everything from fat gain to a loss of libido and chronic depression, they begin to wonder where it all went wrong. Low testosterone has several key causes, according to researchers. These causes remain the subject of ongoing studies and observations, designed to help future generations avoid low testosterone issues.
Diet and Nutrition
Studies have shown that diet has a significant impact on hormone levels. Specifically, a healthy diet can lead to a greater chance of long-term hormone balance, while a diet high in junk food and “empty calories” can promote hormone imbalances and long-term hormone reduction.
In fact, the fat gain promoted by a poor diet is directly associated with the lowering of testosterone levels, as well as a reduction in other key hormones in both men and women. The solution is to start counting calories, eating healthy foods, and putting aside the sources of empty calories.
Lack of Exercise
Diet and exercise almost always go hand-in-hand, and that’s certainly true when it comes to the causes of low testosterone. Several studies have shown that regular exercise, including both cardiovascular and strength training activities, promote both the creation and the stabilization of key hormones in the body. This includes testosterone. To prevent low testosterone, or to recover from the condition, consider a regular gym routine that balances strength training and cardio throughout the week.
Genetic Risk Factors
Hormone levels are hardly uniform across all men or all women. Like so many things, they’re subject to influence from diet, exercise, and even genetics. Many people find that hormone imbalances, especially low testosterone levels, tend to run in families. Therefore, if an older relative has experienced low testosterone, it’s a good idea to monitor testosterone levels and talk to a doctor about how to keep an eye out for this condition over time.
Several Options Exist for Low Testosterone Treatment
It’s notable that many of the risk factors associated with low testosterone also zero in on lifestyle choices like diet and exercise. In many cases, treatment for low testosterone focuses on making lifestyle changes that help promote the creation of additional testosterone to cancel out the imbalance that may have developed over time. Doctors typically recommend that younger patients, between their early 20s and mid-50s, focus on a healthy, high-protein diet that is regularly paired with high-intensity cardio and strength training.
Lifestyle changes are not the only effective way of treating the condition, however. Low testosterone can also be treated by focusing on treatments that are more medical in nature. Depending on the patient’s age and the severity of the condition, doctors may recommend a variety of treatments.
When it comes to fertility concerns for a young couple, testosterone is a key part of the equation. Younger patients with low testosterone are most likely to be given regular testosterone injections that help with fertility concerns. These shots are typically prescribed only as a short-term fix to the problem, rather than as a long-term commitment. Doctors will often recommend lifestyle changes to younger patients for long-term relief from low testosterone.
Gels and Patches
Older patients are more likely to be prescribed a supplemental testosterone gel or patch. Typically administered daily, gels and patches supplement the body’s testosterone level on a 24-hour basis and are best for those patients who cannot exercise regularly or who suffer from a more severe shortage of the hormone.
A Common, But Treatable, Condition
Low testosterone is something that few people talk about, but many people suffer from. The condition is easy to treat, however. Daily lifestyle changes, like a healthy diet and a gym routine, are a great way to start. For fertility concerns or long-term treatments, medical options may be available. The key is to recognize the condition early, seek the advice of a doctor, and be proactive in recognizing, treating, and overcoming this common condition.