Written on February 1, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Testosterone is the major male sex hormone that aids in penile and testicular development, facial and pubic hair growth (and later, balding), muscular size and strength, bone growth and strength, sex drive, and the production of sperm . It is also thought to regulate fat distribution and the production of red blood cells .
“A small amount of circulating testosterone is converted to estradiol, a form of estrogen,” explains Dr. Harrison Wein, “As men age, they often make less testosterone, and so they produce less estradiol as well. Thus, changes often attributed to testosterone deficiency might be partly or entirely due to the accompanying decline in estradiol” .
Testosterone production ramps up at the time of puberty and starts to gradually decline after age 30 (about 1.6% every year) . About 8% of males in their 40s have low testosterone levels, 12% in their 50s, 19% in their 60s, 28% in their 70s, and 49% of males aged 80+ .
With aging, testosterone levels naturally decline due to the aging of the testes. These declines lead to changes in body composition and function, energy levels, physical strength, sexual function, cognition (or brain function), and mood . The Testosterone Trials in Older Men reported that “As men get older, they experience many conditions, often together, that eventually result in the inability to perform many activities of daily living, an increased propensity to fall, and decreased independence” .
Studies have shown that high proportions of males living with chronic illnesses (particularly cancer, AIDS, and type 2 diabetes) also experience hypogonadism .
Some common symptoms reported in males with low levels of testosterone include sleep disturbances, insomnia, mood changes/depression, issues related to their sexual performance/desires, changes in fertility, decreased strength, weight gain, and poor athletic performance. As a result of some of these symptoms, men are more likely to have more body fat than muscle, which can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions.
“These conditions include mobility disability and low vitality. Elderly men also experience increased anemia, metabolic syndrome, decreased sexual function, and memory impairment. These conditions likely have multiple causes, but one cause that could contribute to all of them is a low … testosterone concentration” .
Signs of low testosterone include:
Low testosterone can lead to:
The Mayo Clinic states that “Testosterone therapy can help reverse the effects of hypogonadism, but it’s unclear whether testosterone therapy would benefit older men who are otherwise healthy” .
The general assumption is that, because aging coincides with decreased testosterone, increasing testosterone would reverse the effects of aging; however, there’s “little evidence to support the use of testosterone in otherwise healthy men” .
For young males with low testosterone, testosterone therapy can improve sexual function, muscle mass and strength, bone mineral density, sense of well-being, and anemia .
There are risks to testosterone therapy — that is why a healthcare provider needs to be looped in on the decision-making process.
With a simple prick of your finger, you can use the Everlywell Testosterone Test or the Men’s Health Test to understand what your testosterone levels look like and how they might be affecting your body. For example, fluctuations in body fat or muscle mass, mood, or libido changes may be connected to high or low testosterone levels.
Your sample will be processed in CLIA-certified labs, and your results will be reviewed by an independent board-certified physician within your state. Everlywell is HIPAA compliant and takes your privacy very seriously; your data is securely encrypted, stored, and never sold.
Within days, your physician-reviewed test results will be sent, along with useful insights, to our secure platform for access on your device.
If you have further questions or concerns about testosterone, it's possible to book a telehealth appointment with a healthcare provider through Everlywell.
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