Low testosterone (Low T) is characterized by a deficiency of the male sex hormone testosterone. The effects of testosterone on the body include:
- Increased libido and frequency of erections
- Penis enlargement
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased bone density
- Hair growth (with the exception of scalp hair)
- Increased energy
Low T can be caused either by an error in the communication between the brain and the testes, or by a malfunction of testosterone synthesis within the testes. Low testosterone can cause a variety of symptoms, including a reduced sex drive, mood changes, and erectile dysfunction. The incidence rates of low T increase with age, form 20% from men 60 and above to 50% for men over the age of 80.
While we typically associate testosterone with men, women also produce testosterone, which plays an important role in sexual health for both men and women. Testosterone stimulates sexual desire, libido, arousal, and increases sexual satisfaction—it also helps women maintain optimal body function by helping maintain bone density, muscle mass, and a healthy energy level. Women with low T can experience many of the effects that men do, like decreased libido, chronic fatigue, and low mood, but most often to a lesser degree than men. Due to serious side effects, doctors are very cautious about prescribing testosterone to women, and when they do, are extremely conservative with dosing.