Man stepping on scale after noticing symptoms of unhealthy testosterone levels

Unhealthy Testosterone Levels in Men: Causes and Symptoms

Medically reviewed by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT on November 26, 2023. 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 most associated with traditionally “masculine” traits, like aggressive tendencies or a high libido. But as one of the most important hormones in the body (for all genders), testosterone plays a foundational role in human physical and mental health.

A growing body of research indicates that American men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) have seen a gradual decline in testosterone over many decades. [1] While causes for this general trend aren’t well understood yet, experts believe that a person’s level of physical activity, nutrition, drug use, and other factors bear greatly on hormonal health. As testosterone is considered a key marker of individual fitness—especially for men—knowing how yours rank can be an indicator of overall health.

If you’re concerned about your “T” levels, knowing how to get testosterone tested can give you some insight into your hormonal well-being. Below, we address how low and high testosterone might manifest, as well as solutions for establishing more vital hormonal health.

Understanding the Importance of Testosterone in Men

Testosterone is an androgen, a kind of sex hormone, that’s found in the highest concentrations in men and people AMAB (though it’s found in smaller amounts in women and people assigned female at birth). [2]

While it’s typically associated with sexual functions like libido, testosterone plays a role in myriad biological processes. These include (but aren’t limited to) [2-3]:

  • Building and maintaining muscle mass and strength
  • Building and maintaining strong bones
  • Distributing fat on your body
  • Maintaining a healthy sex drive
  • Producing new red blood cells
  • Producing sperm

Testosterone is primarily made in the gonads (the testicles) and adrenal cortex. Most healthy men experience a surge in testosterone production during puberty, with testosterone levels declining with age. [4] However, so-called “normal” testosterone levels vary widely between individuals, across the life cycle, and in response to various biological and environmental factors. [2]

Testosterone Levels: What’s Normal?

The following benchmarks are currently considered healthy testosterone levels for men and people AMAB [3]:

  • Children between 1 and 5 years old – <12 ng/dL
  • Children between 6 and 10 years old – <25 ng/dL
  • Adolescents between 11 and 15 years old – <830 ng/dL
  • Adolescents between 16 to 17 years old – 102 to 1010 ng/dL
  • Adults between 18 and 99 years old – 193 to 824 ng/dL

Notably, the range of “normal” testosterone in adult men is extremely wide. That said, healthy males will typically see a 1% decline in testosterone every year after the age of 30. [1]

If you’re concerned about your testosterone levels, it’s possible hormones in combination with other factors—like physical health or your lifestyle—could be causing your symptoms.

For instance, maintaining excellent nutrition has been correlated with optimal testosterone levels. If your healthcare provider endorses it, you might try taking vitamins that increase testosterone indirectly by helping to round out your nutritional health.

Along those lines, testing can be an excellent place to start to give you a clearer picture of where you fall in that broad range. Once you have your results, you can discuss how to boost testosterone with a healthcare provider.

Low Testosterone Levels in Men: Symptoms and Causes

Because testosterone plays such an important role in anatomy, stalled testosterone production can impair a wide variety of biological functions. The clinical term for this is male hypogonadism. [3]

Common symptoms of low testosterone include [5]:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low libido
  • Body hair loss
  • Low sperm count
  • Decline in strength or physical endurance

Many men with a decline in their testosterone level also report psychological symptoms, such as depression, an inability to concentrate, or sleep disturbances. They may also face weight gain, particularly around their breast tissue (gynecomastia). [5]

Clinicians and healthcare providers divide male hypogonadism into two categories: classical, which is caused by a genetic or medical condition, or late-onset, which happens naturally as a result of aging. [3]

Moreover, recognize two types of male hypogonadism that can cause depressed testosterone levels [5]:

Primary hypogonadism, which results from testicular dysfunction Secondary hypogonadism, which originates in the brain (specifically, the pituitary gland or hypothalamus)

If you test your testosterone levels and find them to be on the lower side, it’s a smart idea to reach out to a healthcare provider. If the decline in your testosterone level is related to an underlying health condition, diagnosing and treating the root cause may help not only boost your hormonal health but also reduce your health risks down the line.

Everlywell Testosterone Test CTA graphic

High Testosterone Levels in Men: Symptoms and Causes

Just as low testosterone can result in a variety of health complaints, various side effects of high testosterone in males can occur. In severe cases, several health risks are likewise attached to too much testosterone in men.

Some signs of high testosterone in a man include [6-7]:

  • Weight gain or increased muscle mass
  • Insomnia
  • Acne
  • Headaches
  • Lowered impulse control
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of empathy or antagonistic behavior

So, what causes high testosterone in men? As it turns out, naturally occurring high levels of testosterone in men are rare. They usually result from an anatomical abnormality or substance use, including [7]:

  • Tumors– Tumors in the testicles or adrenal glands can sometimes produce unhealthily high levels of testosterone in men. If these tumors are benign – that is, they aren’t malignant or cancerous – they can still boost testosterone levels outside of normal ranges.
  • Steroid use – Artificially inflated levels of testosterone associated with steroid abuse include:
    • Low sperm count
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Heart muscle damage
    • Hypertension
    • High cholesterol
    • Swollen prostate
    • Liver disease
    • Fluid retention, especially in the feet and legs
    • Weight gain
    Note: If you’re a steroid user and are wondering how to treat high testosterone in males, it’s important you speak directly to a healthcare provider. They can give you a thorough medical evaluation to determine whether your health has sustained any damage and create a recovery plan to support both your mental and physical well-being.
  • Genetics– Some men have a genetic predisposition for developing high levels of testosterone. Some research suggests those with a tendency to produce higher levels of testosterone may be at risk of developing certain health conditions, such as kidney disease.[8]

In addition to high testosterone symptoms, researchers associate high testosterone levels with certain health conditions, like heart disease or type 2 diabetes—they believe they have a causal role to play. [9] Due to this research, scientists strongly caution against using testosterone-enhancing medication unless recommended by and under the close supervision of a healthcare provider. [9]

What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?

Testosterone replacement therapy, or TRT, may help treat some low testosterone level symptoms in men diagnosed with male hypogonadism. In some people, TRT may [10]:

  • Improve muscle strength
  • Improve erectile function
  • Boost energy
  • Protect against bone loss

Testosterone can be administered in several different ways, including skin patches, gels applied to the skin, injections, and implants. [5]

Testosterone Replacement Therapy and Prostate Cancer: Is There A Link?

In past decades, many scientists theorized that higher levels of total testosterone came with an increased risk of prostate cancer. (Total testosterone is a measure of the total amount of testosterone circulating in your bloodstream, including testosterone that’s bound to other compounds as well as testosterone that is unbound or “free.”) [10]

It was thought that low testosterone production actually helped protect against prostate diseases, so restoring testosterone to normal levels through testosterone therapy could augment a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

So could prostate cancer be a potential risk of TRT?

Not likely, says today’s researchers. While initial studies (first published in 1941) suggested a link between high T levels and prostate cancer, much more modern research (using much more rigorous methods) has convincingly shown that testosterone therapy comes with “little if any risk” of prostate cancer. [10]

Test Testosterone and More Male Health Markers with Everlywell

If you’re wondering how to test for low testosterone or check testosterone levels, you can measure your testosterone levels conveniently with the at-home Testosterone Test for men from Everlywell. Should your results indicate a need for intervention, you can share results with your healthcare provider and create a plan to rebalance your hormones.

For an even more in-depth look at your hormonal health, check out the Men's Health Test from Everlywell. This available-online testosterone test checks for levels of 4 key hormones that play a role in physical health, stress levels, libido, and more.

Every at-home test from Everlywell is reviewed by physicians and scanned by CLIA-certified labs, ensuring clinically accurate results. Find out what else you can discover about key health markers by visiting Everlywell online today.

Why Weight Loss Can Boost Your Testosterone Levels

Unhealthy Testosterone Levels In Women: Causes and Symptoms

The Difference Between Free T And Total T


  1. “Why Are Testosterone Levels Declining?” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 16 Mar. 2023,
  2. “Understanding How Testosterone Affects Men.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 25 Apr. 2016, Accessed 30 Oct. 2023.
  3. professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Testosterone: What It Is, Function & Levels.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 30 Oct. 2023.
  4. PNassar GN, Leslie SW. Physiology, Testosterone. [Updated 2023 Jan 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan. Accessed 30 Oct. 2023.
  5. professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Low Testosterone (Low T): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 30 Oct. 2023.
  6. Zitzmann M. Testosterone, mood, behaviour and quality of life. Andrology. 2020;8(6):1598-1605. doi:10.1111/andr.12867. Accessed 30 Oct. 2023.
  7. “Testosterone - What It Does and Doesn’t Do.” Harvard Health, 22 June 2023,
  8. Zhao, Jie V., and C. Mary Schooling. “The Role of Testosterone in Chronic Kidney Disease and Kidney Function in Men and Women: A Bi-Directional Mendelian Randomization Study in the UK Biobank - BMC Medicine.” BioMed Central, BioMed Central, 4 June 2020.
  9. Greenhill, Claire. “Genetic Analysis Reveals Role of Testosterone Levels in Human Disease.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 20 Feb. 2020,
  10. professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Testosterone Test: Levels, How It’s Done & Results.” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 30 Oct. 2023.
  11. Boyle P;Koechlin A;Bota M;d’Onofrio A;Zaridze DG;Perrin P;Fitzpatrick J;Burnett AL;Boniol M; “Endogenous and Exogenous Testosterone and the Risk of Prostate Cancer and Increased Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Level: A Meta-Analysis.” BJU International, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed 30 Oct. 2023.
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