There's a fantastic reason guys go girl-crazy in their teens and twenties: Their testosterone levels check these guys out are at their peak. From that my response point, though, testosterone this link levels gradually decrease.
"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 reduced testosterone is more common in older men, it may occur in younger men as well. Luckily, all the causes of low testosterone in young men are curable, so if you encounter these symptoms at any age, there is no reason to dismiss it.
For younger men, a fall 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 adrenal gland problems, based on 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, 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 the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
Additional causes of low testosterone in males younger than 50 include pituitary gland tumors, HIV infection, 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?
Regardless 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 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.
Treatments for Low Testosterone in Younger Men
Not everyone with low testosterone needs treatment. "When it comes to treating low testosterone in older men, we usually reserve treatment for those who have symptoms, such as tiredness and low libido," Gilbert says.
In men who don't make the hormone in their testes because of a condition such as Klinefelter syndrome, or those who have lost their testes because of cancer, the only option is testosterone replacement therapy. Such testosterone supplements come in the form of gel, injections, patches, long-acting pellets, or oral inserts.
In these circumstances,"treatments are often used just 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 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 consider alternatives that might increase their testosterone as well as maintain their semen production," he states. One such alternative is a class 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 main point, however, is that if you have low testosterone symptoms, it is very important to see your doctor. Then, your doctor can rule out potentially more significant causes of your symptoms, including hypertension or a thyroid problem, and offer treatment that can enhance your power and quality of life.