Testosterone is a sex hormone that is produced in both men and women. However, it exists in much larger amounts in men than in women, and plays a key role in several important bodily functions, including:
- The growth and development of muscles and bones
- The production of sperm
- The growth and development of the penis, testicles, prostate, and other sexual and reproductive parts
- The regulation of libido or sexual desire
- The distribution of body fat
- The production of new red blood cells
In addition, it facilitates various physical changes that occur once a boy enters puberty, such as:
- The growth of pubic hair, underarm hair, facial hair, and other body hair
- The increase in the size of the male genitalia
- The increase in height
- The deepening of the voice
Primarily produced in the testicles, testosterone levels vary throughout a man’s lifetime. They usually peak in the late teens to early 20s, and gradually decline with age.
According to health professionals, normal testosterone levels per age group are as follows:
- From age 0 to 5 months: 75 – 400 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 6 months to 9 years: <7 – 20 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 10 to 11 years: <7 – 130 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 12 to 13 years: <7 – 800 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 14 to 16 years: 100 – 1200 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 17 to 24 years: 240 – 1200 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 25 to 29 years: 257 – 1081 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 30 to 39 years: 219 – 1009 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 40 to 49 years: 201 – 993 nanograms per deciliter
- From age 50 to 59 years: 170 – 918 nanograms per deciliter
- 60 years+: <900 nanograms per deciliter
If your testosterone levels drop to below 300 nanograms per deciliter, this means you have low testosterone and need to go see a doctor as soon as possible to find the best treatment to get your hormone levels back up to normal. Otherwise, you are in danger of experiencing several signs and symptoms that may lower your quality of life.
Below are some common warning signs to watch out for:
Reduced bone density and mass
One of the most important functions of testosterone is in bone growth and development, so not having enough of it may make the production of bone tissue and maintenance of bone density and mass difficult. This can lead to a higher risk of fractures and other bone injuries, and osteoporosis and other bone disorders.
Testosterone is also crucial in muscle development, so lesser amounts of it in the body may cause a big loss of muscle mass. This can lead to weakened muscles, and increased risk of muscular disorders, like polymyositis, which is the inflammation and weakening of the body’s skeletal muscles.
Having low testosterone levels may jeopardize the quality of your erections. If there is not enough testosterone in your body, it can be quite challenging to get erections and sustain erections that are firm and long-lasting for pleasurable sex. Over time, if your erectile issues persist, the problem may worsen and lead to erectile dysfunction, a medical condition characterized by the inability to get and maintain erections.
Smaller testicles and penis
If your body cannot produce enough testosterone, your testicles may reduce in size and have that soft and tender texture that testicles normally do not have. And in boys who hit puberty, low testosterone may prevent their testicles and penis from growing and reaching their rightful sizes and have underdeveloped genitals that are smaller than the other boys their age.
Decrease in libido or sexual drive
Men who have low testosterone levels in their bodies may suffer from lowered libido or sexual desire, even if they are still in their late teens, 20s, or 30s, when they are supposed to be in their sexual peaks. This can lead to less sex, a dull and boring sex life, diminished self-esteem, or conflicts with sex partners.
Low sperm count
Testosterone and sperm count have a directly proportional relationship with each other, which means that if your testosterone levels are low, your sperm count is negatively impacted and will also be lower than normal. A normal sperm count is around 15 million sperm to 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. However, if you have low testosterone, this number will fall below 15 million sperm per milliliter and cause a reduction in your ejaculation or semen volume and as well as fertility problems.
Low testosterone can affect your mood, making you more irritable, less focused, and moody. Also, various studies have found that men who suffer from low testosterone levels have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
For optimal health, you have to get around 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, if you have low testosterone, you may have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, which prevents your body from resting and recharging. As a result, you may experience reduced energy levels, mood swings, and memory and concentration issues. You may also be at greater risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, brain dysfunction, and sleep disorders.
Low energy levels
If your body is not able to produce enough testosterone, you may feel fatigued all the time. Even after taking a nap or resting, your energy levels remain low, preventing you from performing your usual tasks. You lose interest in physical activities and have an increased desire to stay sedentary, increasing your risk of heart disease, muscular problems, weight gain or obesity, diabetes, and other health concerns.
It is important that you seek medical help for low testosterone at the earliest opportunity before your condition worsens. Usually, low testosterone is treated using testosterone treatment therapy, which comes in a variety of forms, including injections, gels, and skin patches. Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy and balanced diet and regular exercise can also help.