"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 sex drive, and reduction of muscle mass.
While low testosterone is more prevalent in older men, it can occur in younger guys also. Fortunately, every one of the causes of low testosterone in young guys are treatable, so in the event that you experience such symptoms at any given age, there's no reason to dismiss it.
Causes of Low Testosterone in Younger Men
For younger guys, a drop in testosterone levels may be caused by some ailments, such as type 2 diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, COPD or other lung disorder, or pituitary gland issues, based on Dr. Samadi.
Genetic causes of low testosterone in men include the ailments Klinefelter syndrome, Kallmann syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, and Myotonic dystrophy. Another disorder that 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 reproductive medicine in the Smith Institute for Urology of the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
Other causes of low testosterone in males younger than 50 include pituitary gland tumors, HIV infection, and radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer.
Doctors categorize causes of low testosterone as primary or secondary.
"Primary hypogonadism stems from a problem in the testicles," Samadi says. "This could be from a developmental issue, injury to the testicles, or radiation or chemotherapy treatment. 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 cause, low testosterone symptoms are the same.
"Symptoms include low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, decreased mental acuity and moodiness," Dr. Gilbert states.
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.
Treatments for Low Testosterone in Younger Men
"When it comes to treating low testosterone in younger men, we usually reserve treatment for people who have symptoms, such as tiredness and reduced libido," Gilbert says.
In these circumstances,"treatments are usually used only in the short term, and when a doctor has close observation and knowledge of the patient," Gilbert says.
An important consideration for younger men before getting treatment is fertility. "You don't want to give supplemental testosterone to men who want to be fertile because 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. "Therefore, men of reproductive age should consider alternatives that might increase their testosterone as well as maintain their semen production," he states. 1 such choice is a category of drugs called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).
Other remedies for low testosterone include weight loss and other lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and increasing exercise.
The bottom line, though, is that in the event that you've got low testosterone symptoms, then it is 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 give treatment that could improve your energy and quality of life.