Testosterone is an important hormone produced by the human body. It is found in both men and women, but it exists in significantly larger amounts in men. Called the primary male sex hormone, it helps in several essential bodily functions and processes that occur in men from as early as the fetal stage, during the puberty stage, and throughout adulthood.
What is the role of testosterone in males?
There are many reasons why testosterone is considered one of the most important hormones in men. Below are some of them:
Testosterone regulates libido or sex drive
Having normal testosterone levels is key to a man’s desire for sex. If your testosterone levels are low, you may experience a decrease in your sex drive.
Testosterone aids in sperm production
In order to produce sufficient and good quality sperm, your body should produce enough testosterone. If your sperm count and sperm quality are low, you are at great risk of infertility.
Testosterone is crucial to muscle and bone development
To gain muscle mass and bone density, you have to have enough amounts of testosterone in the body. If you have low testosterone, you may suffer from bone and muscle loss, or some other complications.
Testosterone supports red blood cell production
Your body needs testosterone to facilitate the production of new red blood cells for the proper functioning of your heart and cardiovascular system. If there is not enough testosterone in your body, you may experience a decrease in your red blood cell count and have an increased risk of anemia.
Testosterone facilitates certain physical changes that occur during puberty
Men usually hit puberty around 10 years to 14 years. During this time, they go through a lot of bodily changes, including the growth of body hair, such as facial hair and pubic hair, deepening of the voice, increase in height, and increase in size of the male genitalia. Without enough testosterone, these changes may not happen as they should.
What is low testosterone?
Low testosterone is a condition in which your body’s testosterone levels drop below the normal or ideal range. In men, the normal or ideal testosterone levels vary throughout their lifetime and usually are at their highest during late teens or early 20s.
- From birth to pre-puberty – The normal testosterone levels range from around 7 milligrams per deciliter to 400 milligrams per deciliter.
- During puberty (from age 10 to age 14) – The normal testosterone levels can go as high as 1,200 milligrams per deciliter.
- From age 15 to age 18 – The normal testosterone levels range from 100 milligrams per deciliter to 1,200 milligrams per deciliter.
- From age 19 to age 20 – The normal testosterone levels are somewhere between 240 milligrams per deciliter and 1,070 milligrams per deciliter.
- From age 21 to age 30 – The normal testosterone levels range from 250 milligrams per deciliter to 1,000 milligrams per deciliter.
- After age 30 – The normal testosterone levels generally start to decline by about 1% each year.
To know your testosterone levels, you should go get a testosterone level test at a doctor’s office or medical clinic. It is advised that you do it in the morning, as that is when your testosterone levels are at their peak.
In a testosterone level test, a sample of your blood is required. Once your test results are back and show values that are below the normal or ideal testosterone levels range, you have low testosterone and need to talk to your doctor right away.
What’s causing low testosterone levels in men?
If your testosterone levels are low, there are a number of things that may have caused it. The following are possible causes of low testosterone in men:
Injury to the testicles
The testicles are where testosterone is produced in men, so if at least one of them gets injured, the production of testosterone may be impaired. Examples of common testicular injuries are contusion, wherein blood vessels in the testicles are injured and may cause bruising and bleeding; and rupture, wherein the protective covering of the testicles are torn, damaging the testicles.
This is a medical condition in which the iron levels in your blood rise to very high levels because your body over absorbs iron from the foods that you eat. This can lead to iron buildups in your vital organs, such as your liver and your heart, and harm and damage your testicles or pituitary gland.
Examples of inflammatory diseases that can contribute to low testosterone are tuberculosis, histiocytosis, and sarcoidosis. They can prevent the hypothalamus and pituitary gland from properly communicating with the testicles to produce testosterone.
Testosterone levels in men naturally decline with age, so older men tend to have lower testosterone than men who are in their teens or 20s.
Taking certain medications can be detrimental to your body’s testosterone production. Steroids and opioid medications, for instance, can negatively impact your hypothalamus and your pituitary functions, making it difficult for your testicles to produce enough testosterone.
Undergoing treatment for cancer, such as radiation or chemotherapy, can damage your testicles, and affect testosterone production in your body.
There are many health problems that can stem from obesity, and one of them is low testosterone. If you have a high body fat percentage, your hormone production and hormone response are impaired, causing a decline in your testosterone levels.
Suffering from severe stress, anxiety, depression, or some other mental health issues can lead to a hormonal imbalance in your body, including a decrease in your testosterone levels.
HIV or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a widespread sexually-transmitted disease that not only attacks the immune system but also disrupts the proper functioning of the hypothalamus, testicles, and pituitary gland, leading to low testosterone production.
Excessive alcohol intake
Alcohol contains substances that can diminish your overall health and wellbeing, including your testosterone production, erectile function, and sperm production if consumed in large amounts.