"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.
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, every one of the causes of low testosterone in young guys are treatable, so in the event that you experience these symptoms at any age, there is no reason to ignore it.
Causes of Low Testosterone in Younger Men
For younger guys, a fall in testosterone levels can be brought on by some illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, COPD or other lung disease, 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 disease that can result in low testosterone is hemochromatosis, which makes 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," 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 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. "This could be from a developmental issue, injury to the testicles, or radiation or chemotherapy treatment.
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.
"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.
Treatments for Low Testosterone in Younger Men
"When it comes to treating low testosterone in younger men, we usually reserve treatment for those who have symptoms, such as tiredness and low libido," Gilbert says.
Such testosterone supplements come in the form of gel, injections, patches, long-acting pellets, or oral inserts.
In these circumstances,"treatments are usually used just in the brief 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 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 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, such as eating healthy and raising exercise.
The main point, though, is that if you have low testosterone symptoms, then it is 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.