If your sex drive isn’t as strong as it used to be, you can’t focus at work or you’re tired all the time, low testosterone could be to blame.
Approximately 4 out of 10 men over age 45 have low testosterone, according to the Urology Care Foundation.
Although it can affect your sex life, some men with the condition also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. Low testosterone can also increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the journal Cell Metabolism.
If you suspect you have low testosterone, here are 10 are warning signs to keep an eye on and talk about with your doctor.
1. Low libido
Although some men will notice their libido decreases as they get older, the most significant and obvious sign of low testosterone is a sudden decline in sex drive, said Dr. Joseph Alukal, an assistant professor in the departments of urology and obstetrics and gynecology and director of Male Reproductive Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
2. Extra weight
Carrying extra pounds can affect testosterone because fat cells convert testosterone to estrogen, which decreases circulating testosterone, said Dr. Philip Werthman, a urologist and director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Vasectomy Reversal in Los Angeles.
Although men who are overweight or obese can have low testosterone, it’s not clear whether they gain weight because their testosterone is low or if their testosterone is low because they’re overweight. Either way, eating healthy, exercising and losing weight is often enough for them to feel better, he said.
3. Erectile dysfunction
As many as 30 million men have erectile dysfunction and low testosterone could be to blame. In order to get and keep a strong erection, it’s necessary to have adequate blood flow, circulation, functioning valves, normal sensations and sex drive and testosterone is responsible for all of it, Werthman said.
If you’re exhausted by lunchtime, crash on the couch after work and find it challenging to get motivated to do anything, low testosterone could be zapping your energy.
5. Sleep problems
Men with low testosterone can experience insomnia but it’s also associated with obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder which affects more than 18 million Americans and can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and problems with mood and memory.
Although low testosterone doesn’t cause obstructive sleep apnea, many men who have sleep apnea are also overweight, which can lead to low testosterone, Werthman said. The bottom line: If your partner says you snore, or you feel tired after sleeping all night, see your doctor for a sleep study.
6. Lack of concentration
Since testosterone is responsible for focus, if the hormone is low, you can experience brain fog, have trouble concentrating and even have memory problems.
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 56 percent of men who had borderline low testosterone also had significant symptoms of depression, were already diagnosed with depression and/or were taking antidepressant medication.
When men receive testosterone replacement therapy, they often see an improvement in their depression, and it’s more effective than the anti-depressants they were taking, Werthman said.
8. Breast growth
Since low testosterone causes the ratio of estrogen and testosterone in the body to become unbalanced, some men may grow breast tissue, a condition known as gynecomastia.
9. Aches and pains
Low testosterone can decrease muscle mass and strength so some men may experience joint pain, muscle aches and be more prone to injury.
10. Bone problems
Although osteoporosis is usually thought to affect women only, it can be a problem for men with low testosterone because it decreases bone density.
If you suspect you have low testosterone, make an appointment with your doctor who can diagnose it with a simple blood test and suggest several types of testosterone replacement therapy.
Julie Revelant is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the healthcare industry. She's also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.