What does it mean to have low testosterone?
As many men begin to reach middle age, their testes (where most of the testosterone is made) become less responsive to the hormones controlling the production of testosterone. But it’s not just the amount of testosterone that matters, it’s the level of “free” testosterone that is biologically active amongst the testosterone that is produced that dictates whether or not you have low testosterone.
So what happens when you get low testosterone levels?
Well, you may get a slight paunch or you may fine it harder to climb your stairs without getting short of breath. You’ll find that the balance of muscles and fat that you have becomes more and more in favour of fat. Perhaps you are finding problems with your ability to keep your sex life going, with a range of problems from an inability to get an erection to completely losing your interest in sex.
As men get on in age, they find that it gets harder to maintain muscle mass, not forgetting building it in the first place. Low testosterone level means that you’re more likely to gain fact as well, and the University of Washington did some research which linked abdominal fat to low testosterone levels.
It’s not just physical manifestations that low testosterone leads to. It’s also more mental. Men will find that testosterone levels play an important role in almost everything. Well-being and self-confidence results from higher testosterone levels. Your mood is affected by testosterone. It governs your aggressiveness and your mood. The brain contains testosterone receptors, which respond to testosterone which is why when you have low testosterone your mood levels drop.
You will be aware of the film “Grumpy Old Men” with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Well, it’s actually based on scientific fact. Some people term the reaction of older men to having low testosterone “irritable male syndrome”, as they seem to get more irritable and grumpy the older they get. Hormone replacement therapy is given to men who can’t produce testosterone and when it stops they tend to get depressed. When treatment resumes their mood tends to improve.
There are also experts who believe that low testosterone levels can cause the symptoms of sexual dysfunction, like low sex drive and premature ejaculation. Testosterone is capable of controlling the blood that flows to the penis and maintaining erection solidity. Some men report impotence by the time they turn 40 and this seems to especially affect those going back to dating after going through a divorce as a cocktail of lower testosterone levels, a lack of self-confidence and the likelihood of an expanding waistline means that many men feel their best is behind them.
You should start with diet and exercise changes before trying to treat low testosterone exogenically.
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