The Hidden Dangers Of Low Testosterone Men Should Look Out For

Men with low testosterone may get frustrated by some of the sex-related symptoms of the condition, like a waning libido or ejaculation inconsistencies. But many don't realize that there are other, more alarming (and relatively hidden) dangers associated with having a testosterone deficiency. Low testosterone has been linked to a number of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in American men (per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). That's why it's important for men to keep tabs on their testosterone levels and take action if those levels dip.

What does a healthy testosterone level look like? According to Mount Sinai's online health library, men should have at least 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) of testosterone. Only bloodwork can reveal if a man officially has low testosterone, though. That's why it's essential for men who suspect they may have low testosterone to speak up. 

The good news is that low testosterone usually makes itself known, giving men the opportunity to get treated quickly. Other symptoms of low male testosterone levels include pubic hair loss, muscle mass loss, concentration difficulties, and occasional hot flashes (via the Cleveland Clinic). Therefore, men who experience one or more of these indicators may want to talk with their healthcare providers about what's happening. After all, ignoring suspected low testosterone can put a man's short-term and long-term health at risk.

Medical conditions linked to low testosterone

Though there are connections between low testosterone and several medical conditions, three conditions stand out for their seriousness.

The link between low testosterone and heart disease starts with metabolic syndrome (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). Men with metabolic syndrome typically carry excess weight in their midsections, have insufficient levels of "good" cholesterol, and exhibit higher-than-average blood fasting levels. Together, those traits increase their likelihood of developing heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Since many of those characteristics are also seen in men with low testosterone, some doctors have concluded that low testosterone is a viable risk factor for future heart disease as well (per Johns Hopkins Medicine). 

Meanwhile, a 2021 study published in Biology noted that there seems to be a relationship between reduced testosterone and reduced insulin function. As testosterone goes down, a man's body may not effectively process sugar. If this problem continues, it can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. According to statistics from the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is among the top contributors to American adult deaths annually. 

The third condition related to a dip in testosterone is osteoporosis. A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology explains that since testosterone activates bone growth, its absence can lead to weakened areas of bone. And as bone weakens over time, it becomes more susceptible to breaking and fracturing. Therefore, men whose testosterone levels keep dropping may lose protective bone mass and strength.

Reversing health dangers with testosterone boosters

Heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis can be scary conditions to face. However, not every man who has low testosterone will be diagnosed with a serious medical issue. Plus, men who know they have low testosterone (or are seeing their testosterone numbers plummet) can take measures to mitigate their risks and lift their testosterone levels. And some of those measures don't require medication.

For instance, merely losing weight can have a noticeable effect on testosterone. A 2013 meta-analysis in the European Journal of Endocrinology found that obese men who lost weight saw a rise in their testosterone levels. Increasing physical activity with or without weight loss can be a boon to a man's testosterone, too. Per a 2020 study in the Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, regular exercise seems to cause at least a short-term stimulation of testosterone as well.

Even getting a better night's sleep may nudge testosterone in the right direction. As one 2021 study published in Sleep Medicine showed, losing sleep can cause a loss of testosterone. During the study, men who were routinely sleep-deprived ended up with suppressed testosterone levels. Consequently, getting the suggested seven to eight hours of sleep each night could have a palpable effect on testosterone, which in turn could ward off other health concerns.