Chronic fatigue is one of the most common complaints in men with low testosterone (T). Patients often report the lack of energy as the most debilitating symptom of the condition.
That’s because persisting fatigue can have a detrimental effect on your mood, personal life, productivity, work, and even your income.
Thus, diagnosing and treating the underlying cause is of paramount importance to your physical and emotional well-being.
Chronic fatigue does not go away after a regular rest and a good night’s sleep. Therefore, it should not be confused with physiological tiredness that arises after prolonged work and is easily reversible.
Is your fatigue caused by low T?
The majority of men with low T complain of low energy levels and fatigue. According to one study, lack of energy was the most common symptom, reported by 88% of men with androgen deficiency.
The scientists also revealed that most of the participants rated chronic fatigue as having a significant detrimental impact on their quality of life.
There are complex mechanisms linking low testosterone levels to chronic fatigue. The symptom is the result of the changes in the body that occur in hypogonadism, such as slower metabolism, muscle loss, mood disturbances, anemia, and sleep problems.
The only way to find out whether your chronic fatigue is caused by low testosterone is to visit a licensed medical doctor such as an endocrinologist. They will determine whether your complaints are hormone-related by assessing all of your symptoms and measuring your serum T levels.
If two separate tests reveal that your testosterone levels are under 300 ng/ml, the results suggest you have male hypogonadism and your doctor should assign you a treatment for your complaints.
Currently, one of the most effective options for managing the symptoms of low T is testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). It involves taking exogenous testosterone which can raise serum T back to normal levels.
Usually, the first benefits of the therapy occur after the 3rd week and include improved mood and libido. According to trials, it takes 9-12 weeks of TRT until there are positive effects on fatigue as well.
While on therapy, you may also experience an increase in muscle mass, bone density, and fat loss
However, patients with severe obesity who also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are not suitable candidates for TRT. Evidence suggests that high testosterone has a detrimental effect on OSA which may worsen sleep and increase symptoms of insomnia and fatigue during the day.
Other symptoms of low T
Lack of motivation and sleepiness are other common symptoms of hypogonadism that usually accompany fatigue. For example, patients with low T often complain of lethargy and falling asleep right after dinner.
Besides, one study reported that hypogonadism can lead to weaker muscles. Patients had significantly lower muscle strength when compared to healthy men.
Low testosterone is also known to increase the risk of anemia. The condition is defined as low red blood cell count and one of its hallmark symptoms is fatigue.
Other signs of low T include fat gain, low libido, erectile dysfunction, body hair loss, anxiety and depression.
Trials have discovered that men who suffer from cluster headaches and migraines may also experience low testosterone during the episodes. However, headaches are not a typical symptom in patients with low T.
What else can cause fatigue?
Low levels of testosterone are not the only possible reason for persistent fatigue and loss of energy in men.
Fatigue may be the result of a wide range of lifestyle factors and medical conditions
For example, several negative aspects related to your way of life can lead to low energy levels:
- Restrictive diets
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Chronic overexertion
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Medical disorders that may cause fatigue as one of their symptoms include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Chronic fatigue
You should always visit a medical professional, to find out the exact cause of your symptoms. Your doctor will be able to run all necessary tests and find the best approach to manage your complaints.
According to trials, obesity is one of the most common causes of fatigue. For example, obesity has a negative effect on your sleep as it increases the risk of sleep apnea.
Furthermore, it increases the levels of inflammation and insulin resistance in your body which can lead to type 2 diabetes. The latter is a metabolic disorder commonly linked to chronic fatigue.
Evidence reports that a sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity are also associated with chronic fatigue. That’s likely because of the negative effects of hypokinesia on physical capacity, stress, and hormonal levels.
Another unhealthy habit is chronic alcohol abuse. It can disturb sleep quality, leading to low energy levels.
Heavy drinkers are more likely to experience low testosterone
Furthermore, studies reveal that quitting alcohol after a prolonged period of heavy drinking may also increase the risk for fatigue alongside other withdrawal symptoms.
Several medical conditions can lead to persisting fatigue as a symptom. For example, endocrinological diseases that affect thyroid function are another common cause of lack of energy. The low levels of thyroid hormones in hypothyroidism lead to slower metabolism, lethargy, and fatigue.
Another possible cause of chronic fatigue is anemia. The condition may be entirely unrelated to your testosterone levels. It can occur due to genetic, dietary, or environmental factors.
The low red blood cell count makes it harder for your blood to supply oxygen to all your tissues. The symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, dizziness, brain fog, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, as the name suggests can also lead to persisting loss of energy but its causes are not yet fully established. According to studies, possible causes may include infections, chronic stress, and psychological factors. Typical symptoms are headaches, insomnia, poor concentration, and memory loss.
How to regain your energy
If you are otherwise healthy, various lifestyle changes may significantly reduce your symptoms of low energy levels and fatigue. For example, adding light to moderate exercise several days per week can increase your oxygen capacity, boost your hormone levels and improve your sleep.
Make sure to avoid any restrictive diets, which force you to exclude entire food groups. These dietary patterns can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the long term, which often result in chronic fatigue.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t overindulge in caloric food either. Consuming too much energy can lead to obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, and diabetes. Instead, focus on consuming a balanced and diverse diet that is mainly based on whole unprocessed foods.
Unfortunately, some medical conditions may lead to chronic fatigue despite otherwise having a healthy way of life.
If you suspect that your symptoms are due to an illness, make sure to contact your doctor or another experienced specialist. They will help you establish the exact cause of your complaints and prescribe you appropriate treatment for your condition.
Get a free consultation with our medical expert for any questions about hormone replacement therapy