Testosterone and aging: Does testosterone make you look older?

Testosterone isn't just a sex hormone. It is a vital hormone also involved in regulating fat distribution, muscle mass, strength, bone mass, and even cognitive function. So, it's no surprise that this hormone may affect your appearance as you age.

Key takeaways

  • Testosterone is a male hormone that is primarily involved in the development of male sexual characteristics.
  • When it is low, testosterone has significant effects on the normal aging process, especially in males. A decreased level of testosterone can make you look older.
  • There are medical and natural ways to replace testosterone to reverse its negative effects, such as testosterone replacement therapy and getting enough vitamin D.

Testosterone is a male sex hormone that plays a major role in the development of male sexual characteristics. But it also plays an important role in aging. For example, it keeps the skin thick and smooth, and a decline in its normal production may contribute to the appearance of aging signs.

Testosterone is produced in the testicles of males, the ovaries of females, and the adrenal glands.

Testosterone levels in males aged 25–39 fluctuate between 352 to 575 ng/dL (which is higher than its typical level in women). But as they get older, the hormone‘s level begins to drop significantly. This leads to significant changes in the body.

Does testosterone make you look older?

Yes, low testosterone levels, especially in men can influence both their physiological functions and physical features, making them look older.

As men move from early adulthood to an older age, there is a decline in many important physiological functions. One of them is the decrease in testosterone levels due to the testes producing less of this hormone.

A 2012 study showed that there is a significant decrease in testosterone levels in the blood of aging men. This reduction in testosterone levels can make a person look older.

Although testosterone is produced in lower amounts in women, a very low level or absence of this hormone may contribute to aging in them as well, also considering that some amount of testosterone is converted to estradiol (a form of the female sex hormone, estrogen).

After menopause, women may experience a decline in testosterone levels, resulting in muscle weakness and loss, another key component of aging in both males and females.

How low testosterone affects aging

Low testostrone can affect aging in different ways.

1. It reduces muscle mass and bone strength

Firstly, the testosterone hormone is helps promote muscle mass, muscle elasticity, and bone strength, and when its level is low, a person may experience muscle weakness, loss of muscle mass, and skin wrinkling. A combination of these body changes can make a person look older.

2. It reduces collagen production

At normal levels, testosterone stimulates the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that helps maintain the skin's structure, making it appear thick, elastic, and free of wrinkles. This forms the basis of a youthful look.

Ultimately, at lower levels of testosterone, there is less production of collagen, leading to reduced skin elasticity, wrinkling of the skin, and an older look.

3. It lowers the production of sebum

Also, testosterone stimulates the production of sebum, a special skin oil needed to keep the skin lubricated, moisturised and glowing. But with advancing age and a decrease in testosterone, the skin produces less sebum, causing wrinkles to start to appear and making a person look older.

However, one downside to sebum production is its tendency to be produced in excess in some individuals. This excess sebum blocks the skin pores, contributing to the development of acne, popularly known as pimples.

Symptoms of low testosterone as you get older

Since testosterone influences a wide range of bodily functions, its decline as a person gets older manifests as different symptoms; one of them is erectile dysfunction or impotence. People with erectile dysfunction cannot sustain an erection long enough for penetrative sexual intercourse.

Low testosterone levels in older males also cause:

  • Low sexual desire
  • Low sperm count
  • Loss of body hair
  • Reduced muscle mass and strength and 
  • Low mood.

Other possible symptoms of low testosterone are:

  • Increased deposition of fat in the belly area, which in turn increases the risk for coronary heart disease.
  • Osteopenia, a condition in which there is lower-than-normal bone mass. This can progress to osteoporosis, a more severe form of the disease that causes an increased risk of bone fracture.

All of these have a great impact on the normal aging process and quality of life.

Can testosterone therapy (TRT) help reverse aging?

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may help reverse the symptoms of aging in some individuals. 

TRT is the treatment of choice for some men with symptoms of low testosterone. This hormone therapy comes in various forms, namely patches, gels, injections, implants, and pills. The aim of TRT is to gradually reintroduce testosterone into the body.

This is so that, with time, its levels increase to meet the body’s needs. When this happens, it may help counteract the symptoms of aging. This is evidenced by improvements in skin appearance, increased sexual drive, bone density, and muscle mass in male study participants receiving TRT.

The use of TRT in treating low testosterone in males in the older age group has been long established. Nevertheless, it still carries some potential side effects.

Some of the potential risks of TRT include:

Hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases

TRT enhances erythropoiesis, the production of red blood cells. This causes the body's volume of red blood cells to rise, making the blood super-thick. This scenario has been found to be strongly correlated with an increased blood pressure (hypertension). Also, a person with hypertension is prone to developing coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

People with OSA have repeated breaks in their sleep because of upper airway blockage. This blockage does not allow oxygen in the air to enter the lungs properly. OSM patients experience worsened symptoms when given TRT. This means if you had mild OSM before starting TRT, it could worsen to moderate or severe.


In polycythemia, there are too much red blood cells in the body. Testosterone stimulates the production of red blood cells and in people undergoing TRT, there may be excessive production of the red blood cells, thus leading to polycythemia.

Prostate Cancer

In an experiment carried out by Huggins and Hodges, they found that reducing testosterone levels by removing the testes caused prostate cancer to regress. They also discovered that increasing testosterone levels through TRT promotes the growth of prostate cancer.

Therefore, this study suggests that TRT likely contributes to prostate cancer or cause it to become more severe.

Natural ways to increase testosterone levels in older males

Aside from testosterone therapy, which involves administering a synthetic form of the testosterone hormone, there are ways a person can boost their testosterone levels naturally.

Some of the natural ways to increase testosterone include:

  • Increase your intake of vitamin D. A 2019 study revealed a connection between low Vitamin D and low testosterone levels. This indicates that taking more vitamin D may help boost testosterone levels. Dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolk, cheese, beef, and liver. You also get vitamin D from the sun and vitamin supplements.
  • Get enough sleep. Insufficient sleep has been linked with low testosterone levels. As unbelievable as that may seem, a study carried out on 2,295 males indicated this.
  • Engage in regular physical exercises. This benefits health in different ways, including reducing the risk of diseases and promoting the release of sex hormones like testosterone. Different forms of exercise, including aerobic or endurance exercise (which includes brisk walking and jogging) and resistance training (which includes weight lifting and jumping), can influence the level of testosterone circulating in the blood. Aim for about 30–60 minutes of exercise, 3–4 times a week. 
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. While its impact on male reproductive function appears controversial, different studies have suggested a link between heavy alcohol consumption and low testosterone levels. Moderation is the key when it comes to alcohol consumption as too much of it may cause other harmful effects on health, including liver disease and cardiovascular disease.

Final thoughts

At normal levels, testosterone helps to initiate and maintain various bodily functions. However, a decline in its production contributes to the aging process, affecting health and quality of life.

So, if you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, such as erection issues, low libido and reduced muscle mass and strength, consider reaching out to a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does male testosterone decrease with age?

Yes, male testosterone decreases with age, because as an individual ages, there is a characteristic decrease in testicular production of testosterone.

Does an increase in testosterone cause hair growth?

The role of androgens, including testosterone, in hair growth cannot be overemphasized. Testosterone stimulates the hair follicles in the face, armpit, chest, and pubic region. By so doing, they transform the thin, fine hair (vellus hair) into coarse, thick hair (terminal hair).

Does an increase in testosterone increase libido?

Yes, testosterone replacement therapy usually result in significant improvement in the symptom of low sex drive (libido) in affected men.


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