Low testosterone, or low levels of the important sex hormone, can happen to men at any age. "A lot of women think that it can’t happen to their man because he’s only in his thirties or forties," says Melody Denson, MD, specialist at The Urology Team in Austin, Texas. "We have absolutely no idea why, or what causes it, but we see it occur in all ages."

Symptoms of low testosterone, or low T, go beyond the bedroom. Denson says her female patients don’t complain that their husbands aren’t interested in sex, but that their husbands just sit around on the couch, too tired to do anything, like help with the kids or the housework. Symptoms of low T include:

  • Low libido, or a lack of interest in sex
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Poor sleep
  • Not feeling well-rested in the morning and not sleeping well at night
  • A lack of mental alertness or brain fog (for example, forgetting where you put your keys)

4 Ways to Help Your Man Cope With Low T

The good news: low T is diagnosed with a blood test, and it’s easy to treat. One drawback: If testosterone levels become too high with treatment, there’s a risk of aggressive behavior. In that case, an adjustment in medication is required. So you’ll need to be an active participant in your parnter's diagnosis and treatment strategies. Here are four ways to do just that:

  1. Recognize the problem. Knowing the symptoms of low T, and understanding that they include not just low libido, but also fatigue, getting poor sleep at night, and not being alert during the day, is the first step towards finding a solution. Sometimes it’s the spouse who recognizes the problem, and encourages her man to seek treatment.

    A word to partners: If the main symptom is lack of desire, it’s really important to understand that it’s caused by a hormonal imbalance, and shouldn’t be taken personally. "Your husband does not see you as any less beautiful, he just has low levels of testosterone. If his doctor can get the hormone back to its normal range, his desire will definitely return," assures Denson.
  2. Start the conversation. It may be easier to start the conversation by talking about his fatigue, rather than his libido, says Denson. "Say something like, 'Honey, you seem really tired, you’re not sleeping well, and I’ve also noticed that you’re not so interested in sex.' By gradually working in the lack of sexual interest, you reduce the risk of possible embarrassment." Then you can introduce the possibility of being tested for low testosterone. Denson also encourages you to accompany your husband to his appointment. "It’s great to foster open communication in your relationship."
  3. Be open-minded about treatment options. "Testosterone is the only hormone that cannot be given orally," says Denson. (The FDA is currently reviewing an oral testosterone medication.) "It’s either given by injection, [via] pellets that are put in at the doctor’s office, or through a gel that’s applied to the skin daily," says Denson.

    The injection is usually given once a week or every other week. Since many men prefer to have their spouses give the injection, Denson says most doctors teach women how to give the injection. (The injection site is in the thigh or the buttocks; the latter is less painful.) If your man opts for the gel, know that there’s a risk of transference, or the gel transferring itself to you. This means you can’t touch your spouse for up to an hour afterward, because "If you touch your spouse in the area where he just applied the gel, then you can absorb the hormone through your skin," Denson explains. With the gel treatment, you’ll both have to be careful to prevent transference.
  4. Be sympathetic. As women, we know how hormones can affect our moods, energy levels, and yes, our sexual desires. Denson also often tests (and treats) hormone levels in women; as she notes, "While we expect women to go through menopause, we don’t expect men to have issues. But they do." You may feel impatient with your mate, but remember that symptoms like brain fog, mood swings, or low libido are often signs of this treatable condition.

Talk to his doctor (or yours!) to find out if his symptoms implicate low testosterone. Your man may be back to his old self in as little as one month.

Melody Denson, MD, The Urology Team, P.A., reviewed this article.


Melody Denson, MD, The Urology Team, PA in Austin, Texas.

Bruce Jancin. "Novel Oral Testosterone Undecanoate Under FDA Review." Internal Medicine News. July 18, 2014.