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Signs of low testosterone

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Testosterone is a male sex hormone made in the testicles. Testosterone plays a key role in male sexual development, from puberty to fertility. Some men can experience low testosterone levels, which can lead to a number of symptoms that may be bothersome. Over time, testosterone hormones do generally decline with age.

What are the causes of low testosterone?

Other than age, testosterone levels can decline for a number of reasons. This can be due to a condition they are born with, such as Kleinfelters or Noonan syndrome, or it may develop over time due to certain conditions, such as diabetes, infections, pituitary disease, or HIV. Direct injury or surgery to the testicles can result in low levels. It can occur as a side effect of medication such as antidepressants or chemotherapy. Smoking, alcohol, and being overweight have also been linked to lower testosterone levels.

What are the symptoms of low testosterone?

Symptoms of low testosterone can vary widely; they can be more specific to sexual development or more general symptoms. Specific symptoms can include reduced libido (sex drive), erectile dysfunction, loss of body hair, and leaner muscle mass. More general symptoms can include tiredness, depression, poor concentration, poor energy, and reduced performance at work.

What will my doctor do?

Your doctor will take a detailed history from you and ask you about any specific and general symptoms you may be experiencing. Providing you are comfortable, your doctor will often need to perform an examination of your testicles. Your doctor may arrange for blood tests to measure your hormone and testosterone levels and other blood tests that may be linked to the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to a hormone specialist (endocrinologist) or a urologist for further management. 

What treatment options are available?

Treatment very much depends on the cause identified. Addressing the underlying issue is the best way to improve testosterone levels.  Your doctor may be able to refer you to a specialist who can consider testosterone therapy (by way of injections, patches, or gels). It is important to note that it can take a moderate amount of time (3-6 months) for you to notice an improvement in your symptoms. Lifestyle changes must be made to improve your fitness, maintain a healthy weight, and eat nutritious, well-balanced meals. Avoiding smoking and reducing your alcohol intake is strongly recommended.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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