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How low testosterone can affect your sex drive

A man's testosterone levels start to decline in the 20s and by around 1-2% a year after they reach their 40s. This is part of what's sometimes called the male menopause or andropause.

Low testosterone is one possible cause of a lack of libido or sex drive, It can also affect the sperm count and the number of early morning erections.

Once diagnosed, a man's low testosterone can be treated with hormone replacement therapy.

Symptoms of low testosterone

Low testosterone can affect a man’s sex drive and may prevent erectile dysfunction medicines from being effective.

As well as sexual problems, symptoms of low testosterone in men include:

  • Feeling more tired and unfit
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood changes, feeling out of sorts
  • Lacking strength or muscle bulk
  • Worse memory and concentration
  • Smaller testes, larger breasts
  • Night sweats and hot flushes
  • Loss of body hair
  • Thinning bones
  • Mild anaemia

Causes of low testosterone

As well as getting older, other causes of low testosterone include:

  • Hypogonadism
  • Testosterone deficiency syndrome (TDS)
  • Androgen deficiency in the ageing male (ADAM)
  • Loss of a testicle or testicles
  • Being born with Kleinfelter’s syndrome
  • Mumps or glandular fever affecting the testicles while younger
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Heart problems
  • Too much exercise, especially long distance cycling
  • Long term steroid use
  • Head injury affecting the pituitary gland
  • Stress, emotional or psychological problems

Testing for low testosterone

If a man seeks medical advice about low testosterone, he'll be asked about symptoms and his medical history.

A physical examination will be carried out and tests may be done, including blood pressure and a urine check.

Blood tests may be arranged to measure testosterone serum, the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and prostatic specific antigen (PSA) level.

Treatment for low testosterone

The treatment for low testosterone is testosterone replacement therapy or TRT.

Testosterone therapy comes in different forms, including underarm gels, injections and buccal tablets attached to the gum to dissolve over 12 hours,

Because of concerns TRT may increase the risk of prostate cancer, regular PSA screening tests will be arranged.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 31, 2013

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