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Low Testosterone, Symptoms & Impact on Fertility

Low Testosterone Symptoms & Impact On Fertility

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What is testosterone and how it links with sperm quality

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It is a steroid hormone produced in men’s testicles. Testosterone plays a very important role in sperm production. In this post, we explain how testosterone links with sperm quality and how you can boost your testosterone naturally and we look at the causes of low testosterone/


The role of testosterone in sperm quality

First of all, it is important to know that testosterone is a hormone that regulates the sex organs and stimulates sperm production. Therefore, testosterone is important for sperm quality. Furthermore, testosterone regulates body metabolism, bone density, hair growth, and other organ functions. It plays an important role in sexual performance and libido. Testosterone increases the ability to build lean muscle mass and burn fat for fuel as well as contributing to bone health.


Testosterone and sperm production

The testosterone level in the blood is regulated by a coordinated effort between the brain and the testicles (Figure 1). The process functions as a feedback system and a disruption in one of the hormones involved may lead to disruption of others. The hypothalamus in the brain releases a hormone called Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This hormone stimulates the production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) by the pituitary gland, also located in the brain. Once produced, LH then stimulates specific cells (Leydig cells) in the testes to produce testosterone. This testosterone in turn works with FSH to stimulate the sperm production in the testicles.

Even though testosterone is important for sperm production, low testosterone level does not necessarily cause infertility. Similarly, a high testosterone level does not necessarily mean that you are fertile because sperm production is also dependent on other factors such as FSH and LH.

Testosterone levels in the blood to determine how much GnRH, FSH, and LH to release. These hormones regulate both testosterone and sperm production. This means that when a man takes exogenous testosterone (anabolic steroids), it has a negative effect on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, causing a drop in FSH and LH. This leads to less production of testosterone in the testicles, which can lead to a reduced or failed sperm production.

Figure 1: Testosterone production in the body

Low Testosterone Symptoms & Impact On Fertility

Causes and syptoms of low testosterone

Symptoms of low testosterone can include reduced libido, fatigue, mood swings, sluggishness, and sleep disturbances. If you are struggling with some of the symptoms, don’t despair! This is not something unusual as many men struggle with low testosterone levels.

Although low testosterone can be due to genetics, an unhealthy lifestyle can certainly also contribute to lowering testosterone production. In scientific literature, the reduction has been attributed to inadequate sleep, stress levels, environmental toxins, and high consumption of junk food [1] [2] [3].

This means there is a good chance of increasing testosterone naturally with a fit and healthy lifestyle. To know more about this, read Part 2: How to boost testosterone for better fertility. We also have a dedicated blog to the causes and symptons of low testosterone

Advice from Dr. Fatin Willendrup, ExSeed Head of Medical Affairs

“Symptoms of low testosterone level are erectile dysfunction and infertility as well as decreased libido, energy, muscle mass and hair growth. Talk to your doctor if you experience one or more of these signs”

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.