So what is testosterone and what it gives to us?


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Low testosterone levels

Low levels of testosterone can produce a variety of symptoms in men, including:

  • decreased sex drive
  • less energy
  • weight gain
  • feelings of depression
  • moodiness
  • low self-esteem
  • less body hair
  • thinner bones

While testosterone production naturally tapers off as a man ages, other factors can cause hormone levels to drop. Injury to the testicles and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation can adversely affect testosterone production. Chronic diseases and stress can also reduce testosterone production. Some of these diseases include:

  • AIDS
  • kidney disease
  • alcoholism
  • cirrhosis of the liver

Testosterone is most often associated with sex drive, and plays a vital role in sperm production. But it also affects bone and muscle mass, the way men store fat in the body, and even red blood cell production. A man’s testosterone levels can also affect his mood.

Testing testosterone

A simple blood test can determine testosterone levels. There is a wide range of “normal” or healthy level of testosterone circulating in the bloodstream. The normal range of testosterone for men is between 250 and 1100 ng/dL for adult males, and between 8 and 60 ng/dL for adult females, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ask your doctor to test your testosterone levels if you have concerns about low testosterone (low T).

Unusually low testosterone levels could be a sign of pituitary gland problems. The pituitary gland sends a signaling hormone to the testicles to produce more testosterone. A low T test result could indicate that the pituitary gland isn’t working properly. A young teen with low testosterone levels may simply be experiencing delayed puberty.

Moderately elevated testosterone levels in men tend to produce few noticeable symptoms. Boys with higher levels of testosterone may begin puberty earlier. Women with excessive testosterone may develop masculine features.

Abnormally high levels of testosterone could be the result of an adrenal gland disorder, or even cancer of the testes. High levels may also occur in less serious conditions. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which can affect males and females, is a rare but natural cause for elevated testosterone production. Your doctor may order other tests if your levels are exceedingly high.

The takeaway

Testosterone is most commonly associated with sex drive in men. It also affects mental health, bone and muscle mass, fat storage, and red blood cell production. Abnormally low or high levels can affect a man’s mental and physical health. Your doctor can check your testosterone levels with a simple blood test. Testosterone therapy is available to treat men with low levels of testosterone. If you have low T, ask your doctor if this type of therapy might benefit you.