Low testosterone can put a damper on your sex drive. But is that the reason you’re not performing like you used to do? Read on to find out. . .
Last Updated: 11/22/2022
Testosterone is an important hormone responsible for male traits like facial hair and muscles. It also is involved in sperm production, maintaining a healthy heart, keeping the body lean, and boosting energy. And, of course, it plays a role in healthy male sex drive.
Testosterone levels are at their highest during adolescence and late adulthood then start to drop gradually around age 30.
By the age of 70, average testosterone production drops to around 30% of what it was when a man was in his teens. But it’s not inevitable that an older man has levels below the normal range. Many men over 45 actually have normal levels of this hormone.
If you’re not feeling as frisky as you used to, chances are good low testosterone is involved. The only way you’ll know for sure is to talk to your doctor about getting a blood test. According to the American Urological Association, a testosterone measurement of 300 ng/dL or less on blood tests is considered low.
However, there are some things that can clue you in to the fact your testosterone levels may be tanking. If any of the following factors sound like you, it’s time to have a talk with your doctor about possibly ordering testosterone testing.
A number of factors can cause a drop in testosterone levels. If you’re suffering from any of the factors below, chances are good they’re causing low testosterone and probably your declining sex drive.
Ongoing emotional stress can send levels of the stress-hormone cortisol through the roof. A high-cortisol-to-testosterone ratio is a sign you’re under a lot of stress.
A lot of the symptoms of stress and low testosterone are similar, and some of the symptoms of stress such as low sexual desire may even be caused by low testosterone.
High cortisol levels can cause a drop in testosterone.1 Cortisol is a hormone produced when the body is facing some sort of threat (even if that threat isn’t a physical one). From the body’s perspective, it’s to a man’s advantage not to engage in testosterone-driven behaviors like mating when that threat is present.
Sleep loss isn’t good for sex drive since tired people often don’t have the energy for sex. Not getting enough sleep also causes testosterone levels to plummet.2 This testosterone drop is due to the fact that sleep loss is a stress on the body, which means that high levels of cortisol are produced when you’re not getting enough shut eye.
A type of sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where a person stops and starts breathing intermittently throughout the night, also may cause testosterone deficiency in men.3 There’s also a link between OSA and low sex drive.4
As mentioned earlier in this article, aging is often to blame for low testosterone. So if you’re getting up there in years, there’s a good chance your lack of a healthy sex drive could be due to testosterone deficiency.
Men with certain health conditions often have low levels of testosterone. About a quarter to half of all men with type 2 diabetes have testosterone deficiency. Men with diabetes have the lowest free testosterone levels compared with non-diabetic men or diabetic men who are lean or overweight.5
Cardiovascular disease and low testosterone also often go hand in hand. Low levels of testosterone correspond to more atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), coronary artery disease, and cardiovascular events like heart attacks.6
Although testosterone deficiency is an important cause of low sexual stamina, it’s not the only cause. Things like medications, depression, arguing with your partner, or feeling betrayed by your significant other can all cause a low sex drive.
To find out the real reason why your sexual desire has tanked, visit your doctor. They may order a testosterone test to find out if you’re deficient. If so, they may recommend testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
In addition, if you have symptoms of sleep apnea, your doctor may order a sleep test. TRT may not be appropriate in men who have sleep apnea, whose apnea can become worse after testosterone replacement.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes like weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet, which can all boost testosterone levels.
Other options your doctor might recommend for low sex drive include ED pills or Li-ESWT, which can be done in the urologist’s office or in the privacy and convenience of your home.