"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 guys as well. Luckily, all the causes of low testosterone in young men are curable, so in the event that you encounter 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 liver disease, COPD or other lung disease, or adrenal gland problems, 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 disease that 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," states 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 the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
Additional causes of low testosterone in men younger than 50 contain adrenal 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 states.
Can It Be Low Testosterone?
Regardless of the reason, 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.' ”
Your doctor can diagnose low testosterone with a blood test.
Not everyone with low testosterone needs treatment. "When it comes to treating low testosterone in older guys, we generally reserve treatment for people who have symptoms, such as tiredness and reduced libido," Gilbert says.
Such testosterone supplements come in the form of gel, injections, patches, long-acting pellets, or oral inserts.
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 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 think about alternatives which may improve their testosterone in addition to maintain their sperm production," he says. One such choice is a category of drugs known as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).
Other treatments for low testosterone include weight loss and other lifestyle changes, like eating healthier and increasing exercise.
The main point, though, is that in the event that you've got low testosterone symptoms, then it's important to see your physician. Then, your doctor can rule out more serious causes of your symptoms, including hypertension or a thyroid problem, and give treatment that can enhance your power and quality of life.