Several male bodily functions and processes are made possible by testosterone. The primary male sex hormone, testosterone is produced in the testicles and plays an important role in the following physical and sexual functions:
- Sex drive or libido
- Production of sperm
- Development of bones and muscles
- Distribution of body fat
- Production of red blood cells
- Development of the male genitalia
It is also key to the different changes that a man undergoes during puberty stage, including:
- Increase in height
- Increase in size of the penis and the testicles
- Deepening of the voice
- Growth of facial hair, chest hair, pubic hair, underarm hair, and other body hair
Normal testosterone levels in men
In general, testosterone levels in men increase as they go through puberty until around the age of 20, and then gradually decrease year after year by about 1% after age 30.
Measured in nanograms per deciliter, below are the normal testosterone levels in men per age group:
- From age 0 to 5 months: 75–400
- From age 6 months to 9 years: <7-20
- From age 10 years to 11 years: <7-130
- From age 12 years to 13 years: <7-800
- From age 14 years to 16 years: <7-1,200
- From age 17 years to 18 years: 300-1,200
- From age 19 years and above: 240-950
Throughout adulthood, the average testosterone level of a healthy man falls between 270 and 1,070 nanograms per deciliter.
Determining your testosterone levels
If you want to know how much testosterone you have in your body, you have to take a testosterone level test.
In a testosterone level test, a sample of your blood is drawn usually from your arm and sent to a laboratory for assessment. This is best done in the morning, between around 7 am to 10 am, as these hours are when your body’s hormone levels are at their peak.
Once your test results are available and you find that your levels are normal, you have nothing to worry about. Keep living a healthy lifestyle and consult your doctor on a regular basis. However, if your test results show that your testosterone levels are below the normal range for your age group, this means that you have low testosterone. Or, if your test results show that your testosterone levels are greater than the normal range for your age group, this means that you have high testosterone. Sit down with your doctor to discuss what the best treatment solution is to get your testosterone levels back to normal.
Low and high testosterone levels in men
Having low or high testosterone levels is not good for the body. You may start experiencing signs and symptoms that can cause pain and discomfort. You may also develop complications that can severely impair various bodily functions, including that of your sexual and reproductive systems.
What are the common signs and symptoms of low testosterone in men?
Men with low testosterone may encounter the following:
- Low energy levels
- Reduced libido and sexual stamina
- Weak erections
- Weight gain and increased risk of obesity
- More frequent bone and muscle pains and aches
- Osteoporosis and other bone disorders
- Increased risk of depression and other mental health issues
What are the common signs and symptoms of high testosterone in men?
Men with high testosterone may experience the following:
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of liver disease
- High red blood cell count
- More frequent skin infections
- Decrease in sperm production
Causes of abnormal testosterone levels
Various factors can trigger a significant decrease or increase in a man’s testosterone levels. The following are some examples:
An injury to the testicles may affect a man’s ability to produce testosterone. If the testicles get hit or punched, they may be left unable to do their functions and leave them unable to produce enough testosterone.
Excessive drinking, smoking, and drug addiction may contribute to low testosterone levels in men. Alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs contain elements that are harmful and toxic to not only the sexual and reproductive organs but also to the other vital organs.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is considered a major global health concern. It can cause several symptoms, such as weight loss, persistent nausea and vomiting, abdominal pains, fatigue, and rapid breathing that can greatly lower your quality of life. If not treated right away, it can cause severe complications that can impair your testosterone production and other sexual functions.
Compared to other types of cancer, testicular cancer is a rare type of cancer that affects the testicles. As a result, it can impair the production of testosterone, resulting in low testosterone levels, and sperm, which can eventually lead to infertility, if not treated at the earliest chance.
Excessive use of testosterone boosters
Taking more than the doctor’s prescribed dosage of testosterone boosters may raise your testosterone levels to very high levels, and cause hormonal imbalance and degeneration of your glands, including your gonads.
Poor lifestyle choices
The kinds of food that you eat and your level of physical activity are necessary for ensuring that your body is producing sufficient testosterone. If you always eat unhealthy foods and never exercise, your odds of suffering from low testosterone is high.
Treating testosterone imbalances
It is important to pay your doctor a visit as soon as possible to treat your low or high testosterone levels. The best treatment method for you depends on the cause of your testosterone problems.
If you have low testosterone, your doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy that comes in the following forms:
- Testosterone injections – A shot of testosterone is injected into your muscle every 10 or so days to increase testosterone in your body.
- Skin patches or gels – These are administered onto your skin, usually on the arm, shoulders, or neck, to allow testosterone to be absorbed into your body.
If you have high testosterone because of excessive anabolic steroid or testosterone supplements use, your doctor may advise you to stop taking them to let your testosterone levels to go back down.