"After age 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in testosterone," states David Samadi, MD, chairman of the urology department at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Though testosterone levels never reach zero (as estrogen levels do in women during menopause), low testosterone levels men to experience symptoms such as fatigue, low libido, and reduction of muscle mass.
While reduced testosterone is more common in older men, it may occur in younger men also. Fortunately, every one the causes of low testosterone in young guys are treatable, so in the event that you experience these symptoms at any given age, there's no reason to dismiss it.
For younger men, a fall in testosterone levels can be brought on by some ailments, such as type 2 diabetes, chronic liver or liver disease, COPD or other lung disease, or adrenal gland issues, according to Dr. Samadi.
Genetic causes of low testosterone in males include the ailments Klinefelter syndrome, Kallmann syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Myotonic dystrophy. Another disorder which could cause low testosterone is hemochromatosis, making the body shop too much iron.
"Low testosterone can also result when something happens, like trauma or steroid use, that prevents the testes from making the hormone," says Bruce Gilbert, MD, PhD, an adjunct clinical professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of reproductive and sexual medicine in the Smith Institute for Urology of the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
Other causes of low testosterone in males younger than 50 contain adrenal gland tumors, HIV infection, and radiation treatment or chemotherapy for cancer.
Doctors categorize causes of low testosterone as secondary or primary.
"Primary hypogonadism stems from a problem in the testicles," Samadi states. In secondary hypogonadism, the testicles are normal but function improperly because of a problem with the hypothalamus or pituitary gland."
Is It Low Testosterone?
Regardless of the cause, low testosterone symptoms would be the same.
"Symptoms include low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, decreased mental acuity and moodiness," Dr. Gilbert says.
"Younger men with low testosterone usually come to me and say, ‘I can't work out like I used to, and I've lost interest in sex.’ ”
If you suspect low testosterone, the first step is to see your primary care physician. Your doctor can diagnose low testosterone with a blood test.
If your blood test reveals low testosterone (usually defined as a level lower than 300 ng/dL), the doctor may treat you or refer you to a specialist, such as an urologist or endocrinologist.
Not everyone with low testosterone needs treatment. "When it comes to treating low testosterone in older guys, we generally reserve treatment for those who have symptoms, such as fatigue and low libido," Gilbert says.
In these circumstances,"treatments are usually used only in the short term, and when a physician has close monitoring and understanding of the individual," Gilbert says.
An important consideration for younger men before getting treatment is fertility. "You do not wish to offer supplemental testosterone to guys who are interested in being fertile since it can turn off sperm production," Gilbert says.
Once a young man goes off testosterone supplementation, there's a chance his sperm count will never return to what it was before he started. "Hence, men of reproductive age should think about alternatives which may improve their testosterone as well as preserve their sperm production," he says. 1 such choice is a category of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).
Other treatments for low testosterone include weight loss and other lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and raising exercise.
The main point, however, is that in the event that you have low testosterone symptoms, it's very important to see your physician. Then, your doctor can rule out more significant causes of your symptoms, including hypertension or a thyroid problem, and offer treatment that can enhance your power and high quality of life.