Does Low Testosterone Impact Male Fertility?

A lot of things impact male fertility. Read on to learn how low testosterone affects your chances of conceiving.

About 2-6% of men over age 40 have symptoms of low testosterone. Testosterone plays a big part in a man's health and development, impacting fertility, bone density, muscle mass, and even red blood cell production.

So what causes low testosterone? What are the symptoms? Can low testosterone impact fertility? Read on to find out.

What Is Testosterone?

Testosterone is a hormone made by the testes and ovaries. Though it’s made by both organs, it’s made in much lower amounts in the ovaries. It may be difficult to define what "normal" testosterone levels are, since they’re influenced by a variety of factors including BMI, nutrition, age, and illness.

Testosterone production ramps up during puberty and then begins to decline after age 30. It’s associated with sex drive, sperm production, and erectile function in men. In addition to this, it also affects bone and muscle mass, the way fat is stored, red blood cell production, and even mood.

Signs of Low Testosterone

There is a wide range of symptoms men can experience if testosterone levels drop too low. This is often diagnosed when testosterone levels drop below 300 nanograms per deciliter. Symptoms of low testosterone include the following.

  • Low sex drive: Testosterone strongly influences a man's sex drive, or libido. A person with low testosterone may experience a significant decrease in their desire to have sex.
  • Erectile dysfunction: Testosterone helps you get and maintain an erection. Testosterone itself does not cause an erection, but it stimulates production of a chemical (nitric oxide) that causes erections. When testosterone is too low, some people have trouble achieving or maintaining an erection.
  • Hair loss: Testosterone plays a role in hair growth. Men with low testosterone levels may experience a loss of body hair, facial hair, and hair on the head.
  • Fatigue: Low testosterone may cause fatigue and decreased energy.
  • Loss of muscle mass: Testosterone plays an important role in building muscle mass, so a drop in testosterone can decrease this mass.
  • Decreased bone density: Testosterone helps strengthen and maintain bone mass, so people with low testosterone may experience bone loss, weakness, and bone fractures.
  • Mood swings: People with low testosterone may experience mood changes. Some studies found that men with low testosterone are more likely to be depressed, irritable, or unable to focus.

Causes of Low Testosterone Levels

Testosterone levels decrease with age, but that’s not the only factor that affects them. Other causes of decreased testosterone include:

  • Stress
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Recreational substances like opioids
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Injury to the testicles
  • Testicular cancer
  • Chemotherapy and radiation

Can Low Testosterone Levels Cause Infertility?

The answer is possibly. Low testosterone may affect sexual desire and erectile function. Some men with low testosterone can still produce healthy sperm. However, low testosterone levels can indeed result in a decreased sperm counts, which decrease the chance of conception.