Testosterone is the driving force behind a man’s sex drive. It is an essential hormone that activates a man’s defining characteristics during puberty, like muscle growth and a deeper voice, and in adulthood it helps to keep bones and muscles strong. However, it’s around the age of 30 that most men begin to experience a gradual decline in their testosterone levels, and while for the most part it’s just par for the course, between 2 and 4 million men in the U.S. suffer from low testosterone levels, known as hypogonadism.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of hypogonadism are commonly overlooked because they’re sometimes mistaken for typical signs of aging. It’s a problem that gets progressively more common as men get older, but it can strike at any age. Below are some common and overlooked symptoms that can signal your testosterone levels may be too low. If you’re worried about your levels, it’s always best to speak with your doctor about your concerns.
1. Decrease in sex drive
2. Chronic fatigue
Chronic fatigue can be easily mistaken for stress and being overworked. Everyday Health says that chronic fatigue that doesn’t get better after some rest is one of the trademark symptoms of low testosterone. The less obvious relationship between T-levels and fatigue is that the hormone is responsible for generating energy, and when it drops to such low levels, fatigue impacts everyday actives, including sex. While seeking treatment for low levels is a necessary option, there are other options to increase your energy levels. “I always recommend easier lifestyle changes first,” Aaron Lentz, MD, an assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Urologic Surgery at Duke University, told Everyday Health. He suggests, in addition to following your testosterone treatment plan, that you can try eating better, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and checking for other ailments.
3. Erectile dysfunction
Low testosterone levels can also cause erectile dysfunction, which is trouble getting or maintaining an erection. Erections are triggered by the body’s release of a small molecule called nitric oxide. Because testosterone is what’s needed to trigger this process, when your levels are low, it makes intercourse difficult, if not impossible.
4. Genital numbness
Men with low testosterone levels may complain about not feeling much below the belt, says Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, associate clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the author of Testosterone for Life to CBS New. Generally, when touching the area, something “just feels wrong to them.”