Testosterone is more than a muscle and sex hormone. Though the sexual symptoms of low T are becoming well-recognized such as decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and reduced intensity of orgasm, there are plenty of nonsexual symptoms of low T, too. That shouldn’t be surprising as there are receptors for testosterone throughout the body including in the brain, heart, blood vessels, muscles and bones.
Nonsexual Symptoms of Low T
- Low energy
- Decreased muscle tone and strength
- Decreased bone density
- Disturbed sleep
- Increased body fat
- Loss of mental focus, concentration, and attention
- Decreased memory
- Decreased motivation and self-confidence
- Poor skin tone and wrinkled skin
- Not “feeling yourself”
Let’s discuss some of these nonsexual symptoms of low T in more detail. As you can see from the list above many of the symptoms are related to the brain and mind.
Brain and Mental Symptoms of Low T
The brain possesses an abundant numbers of receptors for testosterone. If testosterone levels decline, as they invariably do in most men, the brain receives less testosterone stimulation. So the brain just doesn’t work as efficiently and smoothly as it does in younger men.
Men with low T will sometimes report difficulty recalling phone numbers, names, title of songs, etc. They can also experience mood irritability especially in response to minor events. Making decisions becomes more challenging and the ability to stay focused on a task is diminished in men with low testosterone.
Many men with low T report they just don’t “feel themself”. They come home tired and even find themselves taking a nap to get through the workday. The couch looks more attractive than their wife or girlfriend. Their overall energy level is low. If they workout, they find that they cannot workout as intensely and that it takes longer to recover between workouts.
Men with low testosterone frequently report poor sleep as well.
Men with low T witness less joy in their lives and things that once got them excited no longer hold their interest. Many times they’re diagnosed with depression and treated with anti-depressants which may improve their moods and outlook, but can worsen sexual function related to low testosterone.
So though they are depressed treating them with an antidepressant may not be the best choice. What these men need is to have their testosterone levels restored to healthy levels if low.
Physical Changes and Symptoms of Low T
We all know that testosterone is a muscle hormone. And, when testosterone levels wane muscles atrophy, or become smaller and weaker. This can make performing daily tasks for the elderly male difficult. The lack of muscle strength especially in the legs can make going up and down stairs, getting in and out of a bathtub, and simply getting out of chair quite challenging. Not only that but low testosterone levels lead to a decrease in bone density increasing the risk of a fracture.
Testosterone inhibits LPL or lipoprotein lipase. LPL promotes fat storage. Testosterone puts the brakes on LPL. So if testosterone levels drop LPL is more active leading to fat gain especially around the belly. That’s why as men age they gain body fat while losing muscle mass, and proudly display that beer and doughnut belly even if they don’t consume beer and doughnuts.
Without healthy levels of testosterone, skin loses its architecture and become thin and sags.
Yes, testosterone is sex and muscle hormone, but it’s much more than that. Low T can lead to many symptoms. If you have any of the symptoms listed above be sure to have your testosterone levels measured.
Updated March 30/2022.
This article could have been about me. Everything you state here is who I have become. I turned 50 Last year and for a few years now I have felt all the symptoms described. I was going crazy wishing I could have my old self back. So last week was my annual physical appointment and I told my Dr about myself and he suggested I get my testosterone level checked. It came back at 247. “Hmm, a bit low”, he says. Would you be interested in T Shots? “If you think it will help”, I said. So now my insurance wants more testing before I can get it covered. The first results were from mid afternoon, they need two early morning tests, so I get one the next morning. 323. Still low, but higher. waiting for the second early morning as I write. But to the point of this article, what level the numbers say you’re at is not really the point, it is what is optimal for what makes you feel your self. So the prescription is written for 200mg/ml when I finally get the go ahead from insurance. I hope your right.
Your story is commonplace, Brian. The reference range is not based on any science and it has about a 5% lab error in most labs. It is a statistical range that encompasses the middle 95% of a bell-shaped curve. It has little to do with what a healthy or optimal level is. If insurance doesn’t cover costs of testosterone you can still pay out of pocket. A 10 ml vial of testosterone will typically last 20 weeks at a cost of $25-30 month. Morgentaler says the need for repeat testing of testosterone level to establish low T is unnecessary. You have symptoms. You already have a level below the reference range. Thanks for sharing your story.
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