Most people know that the drop in hormone levels as women age leads to menopause, with a host of possible symptoms during the years of perimenopause leading up to the end of their periods. Less well-known is the fact that men also experience a drop in hormone levels as they age, with their own set of commonly associated symptoms.
Testosterone levels in men peak during your teens and twenties. From about age 30 on, the level of testosterone in men tends to drop about one percent each year. Some men don’t even notice an impact from this lowered level of testosterone, but for others, it can be life-changing. It’s important for men to be aware of the possible physical and emotional effects of lower testosterone and the potential impact on their health and happiness.
Lower testosterone levels, also known as hypogonadism, can produce any or all of the following symptoms:
- Reduced sex drive and desire
- Fewer erections or difficulty achieving erection
- Infertility and low semen volume
- Sleep disturbances
- Sleep apnea
- Weight gain
- Increased body fat
- Reduced muscle mass
- Less strength and stamina
- Aches and pains in bones and joints
- Lower bone density (osteoporosis)
- Anemia (low iron)
- Decreased energy levels
- Less motivation
- Lowered self-confidence
- Sadness or depression
- Irritability and mood changes
- Hot flashes
- Changes in cholesterol levels
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hair loss
- Enlargement of male breast area
Low testosterone tends to be far more problematic for children, adolescents and younger men, but older males may also notice changes in their body, behaviors and emotions. It is important to understand that the number of symptoms you may experience and their intensity varies greatly from one individual to another. Most men find that they experience some of these symptoms with little or no real impact on their quality of life, but for many others, it can be truly devastating.
If you find that you are dealing with intense or unusual symptoms that may indicate low testosterone, it’s important for you to consult your doctor as soon as possible. A simple blood serum test can tell you if you need further treatment. Testosterone therapy may help, but it also carries certain risks that should be discussed directly with a medical professional.
There are also diet changes that may trigger higher production of testosterone. These include adding garlic and onions to your diet; eating more protein (five to six ounces a day); making sure you get enough vitamin D (fish like salmon and mackerel are great sources); adding more magnesium (found in spinach and nuts); getting more zinc (oysters, beans and beef are great for this); and avoiding alcohol. Getting enough sleep and participating in regular weight training may also help.
It is also possible that other conditions, such as depression, alcohol use, type 2 diabetes, side effects of certain medications, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, pituitary gland issues, sleep apnea, testicular cancer, or infection are causing your symptoms. This is why it’s important to have a health professional evaluate you to determine the exact cause and the best treatment for your specific set of symptoms.