Testosterone is a primary sex hormone found in men that is produced by the testicles. Testosterone plays a key role in men’s appearance and sexual development. It also affects bone and muscle mass, the way men store fat in the body, and even red blood cell production. The production of testosterone is more evident during puberty and slows down as a person ages.
How Do You Measure Testosterone Levels?
A simple blood test can determine testosterone levels. There’s a wide range of normal or healthy levels of testosterone circulating in the bloodstream. In general, for adult males, normal testosterone levels range between 280 and 1100 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Having too low or high testosterone levels from the normal range indicates you have a hormone imbalance.
If this is the case, contact your healthcare provider and they will do a check-up to determine the cause of the testosterone imbalance. When the testosterone level becomes out of balance, it usually becomes too low rather than too elevated.
Causes of Low Testosterone Levels in Men
Testosterone deficiency in an adult man is a sign that the pituitary gland is not working properly. If someone has low T levels, it can cause health problems which include erectile dysfunction, reduced bone mass, and sex drive.
To determine if a person has low T, according to the American Urology Association, clinicians should use a total testosterone level below 300 nanograms per deciliter ng dl as a reasonable cut-off in support of the diagnosis of low testosterone.
Low levels of Testosterone, also known as hypogonadism, can begin anywhere from fetal development, before puberty or during adulthood. For example:
- Fetal development. If a child is born during the development stage, the body does not produce enough testosterone. Consequently, this can lead to impaired development of external sex organs.
- Hypogonadism can affect a child’s growth before puberty by hindering the development of muscle mass, growth of body and facial hair, deepening of the voice, etc.
- For adults, low T levels affect the reproduction functions, and overtime, men can develop infertility, erectile dysfunction, loss of bone mass, etc.
To determine, the causes of low testosterone you must take into account the types of low T or hypogonadism. There are two types, primary and secondary hypogonadism. Each type is either caused by inherited traits, injury, or infection to the testicles. Let’s look closer at primary and secondary hypogonadism.
This happens when there is a problem with the testicles. Underactive testes don’t manufacture sufficient levels of testosterone for optimal growth and health. Other factors include:
- Heritage (genes). Inherited conditions that may cause primary hypogonadism include being born with three sex chromosomes (XXY), undescended testicles, and too much iron in the blood that causes testicular failure or pituitary gland dysfunction.
- Injury or Illness. A physical injury that damages both testicles may affect testosterone production. In addition, if you have had a chronic illness or as a side effect of some treatments, e.g., chemotherapy can impair testosterone production temporarily or long term.
Secondary hypogonadism is caused by damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus, the part of the brain that signals testosterone production. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland to make a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which signals the testes to produce testosterone. Some of the factors that can cause this include :
- Inherited traits. Conditions like an abnormality in the pituitary glands like tumors, an abnormal development of the hypothalamus. And inflammatory diseases that involve the hypothalamus, an area in the pituitary that controls secretion, can affect testosterone production.
- Acquired circumstances. As men age, their production rate slowly decreases. Also, the use of certain medications like opioids and steroids will affect testosterone production.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone Levels in Men
Men with low levels of testosterone will experience one or more of the following symptoms below:
When hormone levels are too low at times, it might be hard to get and maintain erections. Testosterone is responsible for stimulating the reactions which result in an erection.
Lowered Sex Drive
It’s normal to experience low sex drive as you age. However, you will not significantly decrease your sex drive, especially if age is not a factor when the hormone levels are low.
As much as it is not easy to maintain a perfect mood at all times, regular mood swings could be a sign that your hormones are not balanced. Numerous studies have shown low levels of testosterone in men have led them to depression, irritability, and anxiousness.
Reduction in Testicle Size
One of the physical symptoms that you may develop as a result of low T levels is the reduction of testicle size.
Reduced Bone Mass
Another role of testosterone is the production of bone tissue and maintaining bone volume. Obvious changes in the bone mass indicate low levels of the hormone.
Difficulty in Sleeping
When you maintain a proper sleep schedule and still are struggling to fall asleep and to stay asleep can also indicate a hormone imbalance.
A Decrease in Energy Levels
A decrease in testosterone levels affects energy levels. As a result, you may start feeling tired even after a good rest and lose interest in exercising.
Treatments for Low Testosterone Levels in Men
If you have symptoms of low levels of Testosterone, consult a doctor to find out the causes and what you can do to alienate the effects. When seeking help, it is important to take into consideration the risk factors. Some of the risk factors include HIV, age, obesity, and malnutrition.
Once you have identified the risks, the most common treatment options available are:
Hormone Replacement Therapy
In most cases, hypogonadism is treated with hormone replacement therapy by replacing the testosterone hormone back into normal levels and producing desired results that aid normal masculine development. This testosterone supplementation will help maintain health and the quality of life in adult males.
Testosterone therapy can be administered in either injection, oral pills, or with gels and skin patches. Ask your doctor for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and discuss the side effects that are involved. A carefully planned treatment will ensure you avoid the side effects.
What You Can Do to Prevent Low Testosterone Levels
In the early stage of the symptoms, you can make some small lifestyle changes to help reduce the symptoms. For example, simple changes such as improving your diet with more vitamins and minerals, getting adequate rest or sleep, and exercising can naturally increase testosterone levels.
Ask the Expert
The effects of low levels of testosterone can affect the physical and mental health of a person. However, with proper care and effective treatment from one of our experts, you will start feeling your best self again! Contact us today and being your journey to better health!