"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.
Though 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 prevalent in older men, it can occur in younger guys as well. Luckily, all of the causes of low testosterone in young guys are curable, so if you experience these symptoms at any age, there's no reason to ignore it.
Causes of Low Testosterone in Younger Men
For younger guys, a fall in testosterone levels may be caused by some ailments, such as type 2 diabetes, diabetes, chronic liver or liver disease, COPD or other lung disease, or pituitary gland issues, 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 that could 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 sexual 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 says. In secondary hypogonadism, the testicles are normal but function improperly because of a problem with the hypothalamus or pituitary gland."
Is It Low Testosterone?
Regardless of the cause, low testosterone symptoms would be the same.
"Symptoms include low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, decreased mental acuity and moodiness," Dr. Gilbert says.
"When it comes to treating low testosterone in older men, we generally reserve treatment for those who have symptoms, such as tiredness and low libido," Gilbert says.
Such testosterone supplements come in the form of a gel, injections, patches, long-acting pellets, or oral inserts.
In these circumstances,"treatments are often used only in the brief term, and when a doctor has close monitoring and understanding 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 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 consider alternatives which may improve their testosterone in addition to preserve their sperm production," he says. One such choice is a category of drugs known as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs).
Other remedies for low testosterone include weight loss and other lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and increasing exercise.
The main point, however, is that in the event that you've got low testosterone symptoms, then it is very important to see your physician. Then, your doctor can rule out more significant causes of your symptoms, including high blood pressure or a thyroid problem, and offer treatment that could enhance your energy and high quality of life.