"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 nyc.
Though testosterone levels never reach zero (as estrogen levels do in women during menopause), low testosterone levels men to experience symptoms like fatigue, low libido, and loss of muscle mass.
While low testosterone is more common in older men, it can occur in younger men as well. Fortunately, all of the causes of low testosterone in young guys are treatable, so in the event that you encounter such symptoms at any age, there is no reason to dismiss it.
For younger guys, a drop in testosterone levels may be caused by some illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, COPD or other lung disease, or pituitary gland problems, 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 disease that could result in 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 at the Smith Institute for Urology of the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
Other causes of low testosterone in men 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 states.
Can It Be Low Testosterone?
Irrespective 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.' ”
If you suspect low testosterone, the first step is to see your primary care physician.
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 a urologist or endocrinologist.
Treatments for Low Testosterone in Younger Men
"When it comes to treating low testosterone in older men, we generally reserve treatment for people who have symptoms, such as tiredness and low libido," Gilbert says.
In these circumstances,"treatments are often used only in the short 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 do not wish to give supplemental testosterone to men who want to be 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. "Therefore, men of reproductive age should think about alternatives that might increase their testosterone in addition to preserve their sperm production," he says. 1 such choice 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 healthy and raising exercise.
The bottom line, however, is that if you've got 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 give treatment that could enhance your power and high quality of life.