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Low Testosterone and Male Fertility

Low Testosterone and Male Fertility

Did you know men are just as likely to be diagnosed with infertility factors as women are? While some male infertility factors are linked to anatomical abnormalities, many are associated with low testosterone levels.

Are you ready to start a family? Read, Optimizing Male Fertility, to learn more about how diet, exercise, lifestyle and routine medical appointments will support your goal.

Low Testosterone Levels Post Multiple Challenges to Male Fertility

It’s natural for men’s testosterone levels to wane as they age, particularly in the 40s and 50s; according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, testosterone levels begin to wane by about 1% each year after age 45 - - one of the reasons why fertility specialists enforce the idea that men have a biological clock too. However, lifestyle and environmental factors can cause low testosterone levels (low T) in men far younger than 45.

There are multiple ways low-T affects male fertility:

Low testosterone affects libido and sexual performance

Testosterone plays a big part in sex drive – for both men and women. When low-T strikes, men find they are less interested in sex. It also affects the penis’s ability to become full erect or to stay erect long enough to ejaculate during intercourse.

For many men, erectile dysfunction and early ejaculation cause embarrassment and diminished self-esteem, which further inhibits their sex drive and ability to perform. Ultimately, this becomes a vicious cycle if it’s not mitigated by hormone testing, hormone therapy (if needed) and/or the use of prescription ED medication.

Sexual anatomy may be affected

If low testosterone levels are present from puberty, it can inhibit the growth of the penis and testicles. Immature testicles may not be able to produce normal sperm quantity and quality.

It affects sperm production

Low testosterone levels also affect sperm production. Men with low T are more likely to be diagnosed with low sperm count, and that makes it harder to conceive without fertility support. Lower testosterone levels may also affect the way sperm move or their shape, further complicating conception.

Causes of low testosterone in men

Outside of genetic factors and aging, the most common causes of low testosterone levels in men are associated with environmental and lifestyle factors:

  • Over-exercising. This may come as a surprise since regular exercise is a part of any personal healthcare and weight management plan. However, too much exercise (typically associated with extreme athletes, such as bike racers, marathon runner, extreme hikers/climbers, etc.) can lower testosterone levels.
  • Obesity. Men who are overweight to obese have a higher risk of low T because obesity begins to affect the overall hormone balance.
  • Environmental factors. Your hormone levels can be affected if your job puts you in contact with known toxins and endocrine disruptors.
  • Pesticides and herbicides. Unfortunately, many of the mainstream pesticides and herbicides used on the fruits and veggies we eat, as well as the food our meat sources eat, are associated with low testosterone. Prioritizing foods that are organic or grown without pesticides/herbicides is your best bet.

Symptoms of low T

In almost all cases, men with testosterone levels low enough to compromise fertility experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Delayed puberty
  • Smaller or underdeveloped sex organs
  • Low sex drive
  • Overweight and difficulty losing weight
  • Low energy
  • Depression
  • Inability to get and/or maintain an erection
  • Low sperm count
  • Enlarged or tender breasts
  • Difficulty sleeping

Do you suspect you or your partner suffers from low testosterone? Schedule an appointment with the urology department here at Palouse Specialty Physicians. A routine physical and a simple blood test is all we need to determine if low T is a factor and to get you back on your way to feeling yourself again.


Published on December 19, 2018