Testosterone is a potent androgen hormone. Testosterone levels can help maintain sex drive, control sperm production, encourage muscle growth, and boost energy!
As you grow older, you may notice various changes related to those above aspects. One of the causes is the reduction of testosterone levels. While it may feel unpleasant, it’s inevitable as it’s a natural part of aging.
In this article, let us show you testosterone levels by age, symptoms of a low testosterone level, and how to maintain an average level. We will also answer some frequently asked questions, like whether or not stress and masturbation contribute to lower testosterone levels.
Testosterone Levels by Age
Depending on several variables, including age, body mass index, alcohol consumption, and overall health, the amount of testosterone in a person’s body can vary throughout life.
For men, a healthy amount of testosterone is crucial for:
- Sperm production.
- Building muscle and strength up.
- Fat and bone mass distribution.
- Development during puberty, like enlargement of the penis, voice breaking, and hair growth.
- They regulate libido.
Doctors measure testosterone in nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). Here’s a comparison table for testosterone levels by age:
The human body has consistently produced testosterone since infancy, despite the minimal amount. The hormone is vital for developing the male reproductive system.
Testosterone plays a vital role in encouraging secondary sexual characteristics during the teenage years. Hence the jump in testosterone levels is seen in the table.
Around 19, a man's testosterone level arrives at its peak. As he reaches 30 years of age, the amount of testosterone starts dropping. It gradually decreases by about 1% annually throughout the man's life.
You can confirm your testosterone level by taking a blood test. Schedule an appointment between 7 and 10 am to get the best possible result. It's when testosterone levels are at their highest.
Symptoms of a Low Testosterone Level
Doctors suggest a man should have a testosterone level falling between 300 ng/dl and 1,000 ng/dl. Therefore, a test result below that number indicates a low testosterone level.
Let's review some symptoms of low T:
- Hair loss – balding can be hereditary. That said, people with lower testosterone levels may lose hair, including body and facial.
- Stunted growth and development during puberty – this may result in a disproportionately smaller penis or testicle.
- Reduction of muscle mass – A study reveals low testosterone levels lead to decreasing muscle mass but not strength or function.
- Increased body fat – some men with low testosterone develop gynecomastia and enlarged breast tissue.
- Low sex drive – testosterone holds a key role in sexual appetite. While people may experience a decrease in libido as they age, those with testosterone deficiency are likely to experience a more drastic drop.
- Erectile dysfunction – testosterone triggers brain receptors to produce nitric oxide, a molecule responsible for a series of chemical reactions required for an erection.
- Moodiness and irritability – testosterone regulates numerous crucial physical processes. Consequently, it can also affect mood and mental capacity.
- Concentration problems – as cognitive functions decline with age, doctors have theorised that lower testosterone levels could contribute to memory and concentration problems.
Causes of a Low Testosterone Level
Low testosterone levels affect almost 40% of men aged 45 years. As much as it's natural, there are ways to prevent the acceleration of dropping testosterone levels during productive years.
Let's look at the 15 common causes of testosterone deficiency.
- Trauma, like interrupted blood supply to the testes and orchitis.
- Cancer treatment, including radio and chemotherapy.
- Medications include corticosteroids, opiate pain relief, and prednisone consumption.
- Klinefelter syndrome, also called XXY syndrome.
- Kallman syndrome, it’s an abnormal development of the hypothalamus, a gland controlling various hormones.
- Obstructive renal failure.
- Autoimmune disease.
- Obesity or extreme weight loss.
- Metabolic disorders, like hemochromatosis.
- Congenital disability.
- Delayed puberty.
- Chronic sleep apnea.
- Alcohol and drug abuse.
Does Stress Cause Low Testosterone?
Edward Levitan, MD, co-founder and chief executive officer of Visions HealthCare, stated, “Low testosterone is a major source of mental health issues in men." Simultaneously, stress is among the most common causes of low testosterone. Therefore, it becomes crucial to take care of the two.
When stressed out, the brain floods your body with cortisol – the stress hormone. Consequently, the amount of cortisol in your body will significantly increase.
The situation also signals the brain to slow testosterone production, as the hormone is no longer a priority. Not only testosterone but happy hormone productions, like dopamine and endorphin, also come to a halt.
To dive deeper into the relationship between the androgen and adrenal hormones, experts develop the T: C – testosterone to cortisol ratio. Later, it was found that the former dramatically decreases as the latter increases.
Because of that, it's fair to say that high-stress levels can affect the male reproductive system, particularly testosterone production.
Does Masturbation Cause Low Testosterone?
In short, no.
Orgasms feel amazing, whether you're getting the pleasure with a partner or solo. The good news is that no study points out the relationship between orgasms and low testosterone levels.
That said, giving yourself a hand job can have short-term effects on testosterone levels. Abstaining from masturbation for three weeks gives your body a chance to restore the baseline testosterone level.
On a side note, testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day. While the cause is often sexual, like catching a whiff of an ovulating woman's scent, it's not always it. Exercise and diet are factors causing testosterone levels to go up and down.
How to Increase Testosterone Levels
When not treated, a low testosterone level may lead to male hypogonadism. It's a condition where testicles produce little to no testosterone, and this condition can develop at any age.
Here are some tips for increasing testosterone levels:
- Exercise – Besides releasing endorphins, training builds healthy muscle, naturally boosting your testosterone production.
- Change your diet – high-protein, low-fat foods can help balance your testosterone levels.
- Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep – disorders like sleep apnea can lead to low testosterone levels. Therefore, we recommend that you take good care of your sleeping habits.
Keep in mind that your mental state can also affect your testosterone levels. For that reason, planning some unplugged time and making time for the things you love are some of the best, most-effective ways to keep stress away.
Furthermore, you can always consult with your doctor. Suppose you have low testosterone; your doctor can prescribe the best testosterone therapy for you.
The answer is yes if you wonder whether your testosterone levels gradually drop as you age.
You've also learned various causes of low T, including medication, alcohol consumption, and health problems. We suggest you live a healthy life to prevent low T during your productive years.
One last tip, check your testosterone level as you reach 35 and every five years after that. That way, you can make more informed decisions on which aspect of your life you can improve to maintain a healthy testosterone level.