Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us

July 2019

Men: Do You Have Low Testosterone?

At the end of their childbearing years, women go through menopause as a drop in female hormones ends their fertility.

Doctor talking with older male patient in hospital gown

Men, on the other hand, have a more gradual reduction in the male sex hormone testosterone as they age. The result is a condition known as low testosterone.

Learning about low testosterone may help you find out if you could have the condition and what you should do about it.

Q: What is a healthy testosterone level?

A: The normal range is generally 300 to 1,000 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). If a test shows that your levels are below normal, that does not mean you’re diagnosed with low testosterone. Readings can vary in the same man from day to day, even from hour to hour in the same day. Testosterone must be measured more than once for an accurate assessment.

Q: What are the signs of low testosterone?

A: Possible symptoms include:

  • Depression

  • Weak bones

  • Low energy and fatigue

  • Decreased muscle mass and strength

  • Inability to concentrate

  • A drop in sex drive

  • Erectile dysfunction

But other health conditions can cause many of these symptoms. Your healthcare provider should conduct tests to rule out these causes.

Q: What can cause low testosterone in men?

A: The cause isn’t always known. But a drop in testosterone can result from:

  • Aging

  • Injury, trauma, or infection of the testicles

  • Radiation or chemotherapy

  • Use of opiate painkillers

  • Pituitary disease

  • Liver or kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, or HIV/AIDS

  • Genetic conditions, including hemochromatosis, myotonic dystrophy, Kallmann syndrome, and Klinefelter syndrome

Q: Is testosterone therapy safe?

A: Testosterone treatment is safe and works well for men who:

  1. Are diagnosed with consistently low testosterone levels

  2. Have symptoms linked to testosterone deficiency

There are some treatment risks. These include possible prostate enlargement, breast enlargement, or both. Other risks include acne and sleep apnea.

You should not get testosterone therapy if you have:

  • Prostate or breast cancer

  • Blood clots

  • Problems breathing during sleep

  • An enlarged prostate that causes urination problems

  • Plans to have children

  • History of a recent heart attack or stroke (within the last 6 months)

Q: How is low testosterone treated?

A: There are various testosterone therapies. The method that’s best for you will depend on the cause of low testosterone, your preferences, and the cost. Review these options with your health care provider:

  • Injections. Administered every 1 to 2 weeks, or every 10 weeks for longer-acting injections.

  • Gels. Applied to the upper arm, shoulder, inner thigh, or armpit.

  • Patches. Placed on the back, abdomen, upper arm, or thigh.

  • Buccal tablets. Sticky pills applied to gums twice a day.

  • Pellets. Implanted under skin surgically every 3 to 6 months.

  • Nasal gel. Pumped into each nostril 3 times a day.

Q: What steps should men take to protect their health as they age?

A: These proactive steps can help you stay healthy as you age:

  • See a provider regularly to keep up with health screenings and vaccines.

  • Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and stay at a healthy weight.

  • Talk with a healthcare provider if you have a problem that affects your sex life. They may be able to suggest medicine or other treatments that can help. 

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2019
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
StayWell Disclaimer