How to prevent low testosterone as study links it to early death

Men hugging in group. (Getty Images)
New research has linked low levels of testosterone in men to a higher risk of early death. (Getty Images)

Males with high levels of testosterone, often dubbed "men's men" could potentially live longer, that's been suggested by a new study linking low levels of the hormone to an early death.

The research, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, found men with low levels of testosterone had a higher risk of dying from any cause, but particularly from heart disease in those with the lowest levels.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia analysed studies following 24,109 men ranging in age from their late 40s to mid-70s on average.

While healthy levels differ with age, a normal range of testosterone in men is considered 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) – a nanogram is one billionth of a gram.

Low testosterone was defined as below 213 ng/dL and very low levels as below 153ng/dL.

Those with low levels of the hormone can suffer symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, changes to their mood and disruption to their libido.

The analysis found a higher risk of dying early from any cause among men with a low baseline testosterone level and those with a very low testosterone levels (below 153 ng/dL) had a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

While the findings shed some light on the potential role of testosterone in terms of longevity they are observational, which means the researchers found a pattern but didn't directly show that low testosterone caused a higher mortality rate.

Men drinking in a pub. (Getty Images)
There are many factors that can contribute to low testosterone including lifestyle choices. (Getty Images)

Commenting on the study, Dr Catherine Hood a specialist in sexual medicine from Eroxon says: “The new study, which spanned over four years from 2019 to 2024, has found that men with low levels of the hormone testosterone, high levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) - a hormone responsible for testosterone production, or very low concentrations of estradiol - a type of oestrogen - had increased all-cause mortality. The study also found that men with testosterone concentrations below 5.3 nmol/L (nanomoles per litre) had a higher cardiovascular disease mortality risk.

“This does indicate that testosterone levels could influence how long a man lives however, it’s worth noting that there were other variables within the study which may have affected these results which included age, body mass index, marital status, alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, hypertension and diabetes."

Testosterone is a male sex hormone produced in the testicles and is responsible for the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics, such as the prostate, testicles and libido, as well as increased muscle and bone mass and the growth of body hair.

Symptoms of low testosterone could include:

  • tiredness

  • lethargy

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • irritability

  • low libido

  • poor concentration or memory

  • insomnia

Dr Hood says there are various factors which can cause testosterone levels to drop, such as ageing, certain medications, being overweight, poor diet to a lack of sleep, little exercise and high stress levels.

There is also an increased risk of low libido and erectile dysfunction (ED), which in turn can exasperate some of the symptoms listed above.

"ED can have a real impact on a man’s mental health and research by Eroxon discovered that over two-thirds of men with ED feel a sense of shame or embarrassment, while almost half of ED sufferers admitted that their condition has reduced them to tears or left them struggling emotional," Dr Hood explains.

Testosterone test. (Getty Images)
There are some ways to prevent low testosterone. (Getty Images)

While people often have different natural levels of testosterone, meaning what is low for one person may not be for another, there are ways to help prevent levels reducing.

Lifestyle plays an important role, with weight gain a contributing factor in dropping levels of the hormone.

"To help maintain healthy levels of testosterone, it’s important to maintain a healthy balanced diet, reduce alcohol intake, limit stress and introduce stress-reducing practices," Dr Hood explains.

She says it is also vital to try to ensure you’re getting enough sleep - at least seven to nine hours each night.

"Exercise is important too; men should aim to stay active and incorporate some form of exercise every day," Dr Hood continues.

"It’s also worth checking in with your GP to discuss the potential impact that medications may be having on testosterone levels as well as addressing any ED issues."

If you continue to experience ED even after making positive changes to the way you live, you may need to see your GP or go to a sexual health clinic.

They can both provide the same treatment, and many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service and get test results quicker than GP practices.

You may be prescribed medicines for erectile dysfunction that increase the blood flow to your penis, which are called PDE-5 inhibitors.

Eroxon, a clinically backed topical gel, is available to buy over the counter, and can help sufferers get an erection within 10 minutes.