"After age 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in testosterone," says David Samadi, MD, chairman of the urology department at Lenox Hill Hospital in nyc.
Though testosterone levels never reach zero (as estrogen levels do in women during menopause), low testosterone levels men to experience symptoms like fatigue, low sex drive, and reduction of muscle mass.
While reduced testosterone is more common in older men, it may occur in younger men also. Fortunately, every one of the causes of low testosterone in young guys are treatable, so in the event that you experience these symptoms at any age, there is no reason to ignore it.
For younger guys, a drop in testosterone levels may be brought on by some illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, COPD or other lung disorder, or pituitary gland issues, according to Dr. Samadi.
Genetic causes of low testosterone in men 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 store 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 reproductive medicine at the Smith Institute for Urology of their North Shore-LIJ Health System.
Other causes of low testosterone in males younger than 50 include pituitary gland tumors, HIV disease, 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?
Irrespective of the reason, low testosterone symptoms are the same.
"Symptoms include low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, decreased mental acuity, and moodiness," Dr. Gilbert states.
"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.
"When it comes to treating low testosterone in older men, we usually reserve treatment for those who have symptoms, such as fatigue and reduced libido," Gilbert says.
In these circumstances,"therapies are often used just in the brief term, and if 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 in addition to preserve their sperm production," he says. One such choice is a category of drugs known as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).
Other remedies for low testosterone include weight loss and other lifestyle modifications, such as eating healthier and increasing exercise.
The bottom line, however, is that in the event that you've got low testosterone symptoms, then it is important to see your doctor. Then, your doctor can rule out potentially more serious causes of your symptoms, such as hypertension or a thyroid problem, and give treatment that could improve your energy and quality of life.