"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 loss 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 diseases 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 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 contain adrenal 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.
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.
If you suspect low testosterone, the first step is to see your primary care physician.
Treatments for Low Testosterone in Younger Men
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.
In these circumstances,"treatments are usually used just in the brief term, and if a physician has close observation and understanding of the individual," Gilbert says.
An important consideration for younger men before getting treatment is fertility. "You do not want to offer supplemental testosterone to guys who are interested in being 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 that might improve their testosterone as well as maintain 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, like eating healthier and raising exercise.
The main point, however, is that if 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, including hypertension or a thyroid problem, and offer treatment that can enhance your power and quality of life.