Sometimes sex is all you can think of. (Remember being a teenager?) But sometimes, well, you’re not in the mood… even if you want to be. If you’ve noticed your libido, or sex drive, flagging lately, you may be experiencing a potentially serious medical symptom.
The list of factors that can affect your libido is long (and don’t worry, we’ll get to it). But one of the key issues can be traced to your hormone levels — specifically, your levels of testosterone. If you are experiencing testosterone deficiency, your whole body will start to feel different. You’ll certainly notice the effects in the bedroom — and it’s also likely to affect the way you feel about heading for the bedroom in the first place.
There’s hope, right here in Dallas, Texas. You don’t have to live with low libido. If your diminished sex drive results from low testosterone levels, we’re here to help you find the right treatment. For good measure, let’s start by exploring how testosterone affects your libido and the rest of your body.
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. Prompted by the pituitary gland, the testes produce testosterone, with a big jump in production at puberty, when the hormone helps turn boys into men. In your teen years, testosterone was responsible for your penis and testicles growing, your growth of facial and pubic hair, and your voice deepening.
Through your 20s and beyond, testosterone is responsible for building bone density and muscle mass, and it fuels your physical strength. It also helps with the production of red blood cells. And, of course, it’s the main driver behind your sex life. Without testosterone, you can’t get an erection — and without testosterone, you may have little interest in sex at all.
How Is Testosterone Tied to Your Libido?
And that brings us to the issue of your sex drive — the one you may be concerned about. Of course, libido varies widely over the years and from one man to another. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor — the diminished sex drive that worries you might be satisfactory to another man. The stress level you’re dealing with can impact libido on a day-to-day, ever-changing basis.
Many men start to see their sex drive decline in a way that’s unsatisfactory to them, beginning some time in their 30s. In fact, you can expect to see your testosterone levels drop 1% per year for the rest of your life. Some men can shrug that off — but for others, it’s deeply distressing, as they don’t want to lose one of the great pleasures of life.
While the specifics of the link between libido and testosterone aren’t fully understood, the correlation is clear. Lower testosterone levels result in a diminished sex drive and, often along with it, erectile dysfunction. The normal range for testosterone levels is pretty wide: 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). If your testosterone levels drop below the bottom of that normal range, you can expect to experience low libido as a result.
A testosterone level under 300 ng/dL is officially considered low, and you can be diagnosed with testosterone deficiency syndrome. If you get that diagnosis, you’re far from alone. In fact, 40% of men have low testosterone starting in their 40s.
How Is Testosterone Tied to Erectile Dysfunction?
The relationship between testosterone levels and erections isn’t as direct as you might expect. The ability to achieve and sustain an erection depends on blood flow to the penis. When that blood flow diminishes, your ability to get an erection also declines. The most common cause for this diminished blood flow is hardening of the arteries, which can result from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, or just plain aging.
Nevertheless, there is a link between low testosterone and erectile dysfunction, with about 33% of men who experience erectile dysfunction also evidencing low testosterone levels. As to those other two-thirds — well, we all know how stress and anxiety can affect your ability to get an erection. As erectile dysfunction creates more anxiety (will you be able to satisfy your partner?), you enter into a loop that never seems to end.
What Other Factors Play Into Loss of Sex Drive?
Your sex drive is complicated, so it’s no surprise that a lot of factors can affect it. Among the conditions that can lower your libido are the following:
- Infection of the testes
- Injury to the testes
- Testicular cancer
- Disorders of the pituitary gland
- Disorders of the hypothalamus
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol use
- Excessive use of controlled substances
- Use of opioids (including oxycodone)
- Use of antidepressants
- Use of various medications (including ketoconazole and Tagamet)
- PTSD and other mental health conditions
- Radiation treatments
- Use of corticosteroids or anabolic steroids
- Type 2 diabetes
- A variety of genetic diseases, including Klinefelter syndrome
And then there’s stress. As already mentioned (and as you already know), stress can have a massive effect on your sex drive. It messes with your hormone levels. And it can also result in narrowed arteries, meaning you experience less blood flow to the penis, which leads to erectile dysfunction.
How Do I Know If Low Testosterone Levels Are Behind My Diminished Sex Drive?
A loss of your sex drive isn’t the only symptom of low testosterone. If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction regularly, that’s one clear sign that it’s time to get your testosterone levels tested. Other symptoms that can combine to indicate possible testosterone deficiency include a reduction in your body hair and facial hair, increased irritability, an overall loss of muscle mass and physical strength, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue or lower energy levels.
Of course, the real way to confirm your testosterone levels is to see a doctor. If you’ve noticed a diminished sex drive for weeks or months, and if you have any of the above symptoms, it’s time to test your testosterone levels. Seeing a doctor at a men’s health clinic is often a good idea when you’re concerned about testosterone-related issues, as they have the experience and sensitivity needed to talk about what you’re experiencing.
The test is easy — just a standard blood test — and your doctor may add some related blood tests, depending on your unique situation. Expect to go in to the clinic early in the morning for your blood test, as that’s when testosterone levels are highest. The doctor will also talk to you about your overall medical history to help you find the right solution. And the good news is: there are solutions.
What Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Testosterone replacement therapy is the one truly effective treatment for testosterone deficiency. It restores to your body the testosterone you’re losing naturally with age (or due to a combination of other factors).
Testosterone replacement therapy is effective for far more than just the loss of your sex drive. It helps restore your body, fighting back against all those other symptoms that come with low testosterone levels. It will help restore your muscle mass and physical strength — and along with that, it helps you maintain a healthy weight and lose that belly fat that seems to appear out of nowhere. It will make your body and facial hair grow healthily again. And you’ll also find yourself less moody, less anxious, and less irritable.
And, oh yes — it will put any erectile dysfunction largely in the past.
Testosterone replacement therapy comes in many forms, and you can choose which is most appropriate for your lifestyle and comfort level during a consultation with your men’s health doctor. If you’re good with applying testosterone gel to your upper arm every day, you can do that (though you must keep the gel away from anyone else in the house, so this is not the best choice if you have kids at home). Some men prefer to use a testosterone patch, which is similar to a nicotine or airsickness patch. This method lasts for a few days, and again, you apply it yourself at home.
For longer-lasting testosterone therapy, you can opt for injections, which provide enough testosterone to keep you going for a matter of weeks. Even longer lasting are testosterone pellets, which provide a set-it-and-forget-it delivery system. These pellets are placed in fatty tissue, typically in your buttocks, and they release testosterone regularly for months at a time before you need to see the doctor again.
Where Can I Get Help for My Low Sex Drive?
The answer to that question is easy. At Texas Men’s Health Group, we can help you dive into the root causes of your diminished sex drive. We are devoted to helping men in Dallas, Texas find their way back to sexual health, and we stay up-to-date on the latest treatments and techniques to fight the effects of low testosterone.
When you’re ready to explore testosterone replacement therapy, we’ll provide all the testing you need and help you find the solutions you’re looking for. Contact us today to take the first step to regain your sex drive.