"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.
Although 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 low testosterone is more prevalent in older men, it can 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's no reason to dismiss it.
For younger guys, a drop in testosterone levels can be brought on by some illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, COPD or other lung disorder, or adrenal gland problems, based on Dr. Samadi.
Genetic causes of low testosterone in men include the diseases Klinefelter syndrome, Kallmann syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Myotonic dystrophy. Another disease that could result in low testosterone is hemochromatosis, which makes 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," states 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 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 primary or secondary.
"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."
Can It Be Low Testosterone?
Irrespective 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 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 younger men, we generally reserve treatment for those who have symptoms, such as tiredness and low libido," Gilbert says.
In these circumstances,"treatments are often used only in the brief term, and if a physician has close monitoring and knowledge of the patient," Gilbert says.
An important consideration for younger men before getting treatment is fertility. "You don't want 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 maintain their semen production," he says. One such alternative is a category of drugs known as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).
Other remedies for low testosterone include weight loss and other lifestyle modifications, like eating healthy and increasing exercise.
The bottom line, though, is that in the event that you've got low testosterone symptoms, then it's important to see your doctor. Then, your doctor can rule out more serious causes of your symptoms, such as high blood pressure or a thyroid problem, and give treatment that can improve your power and high quality of life.