How Testosterone affects a man’s body. This summary explains what testosterone does for the body. It also describes what happens if a man does not have enough testosterone. Diagnosis, treatment options, and associated risks of low testosterone are included.
What causes Low T? In addition to the natural decline in testosterone levels with age, there are many medical conditions that can cause low testosterone. The next sections discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment of low testosterone in adult males and natural ways to increase testosterone levels.
Signs of Low Testosterone in adult men may include:
• Decreased sex drive or complete loss of libido
• No erections or poor erections (called impotence or erectile dysfunction).
• Lowered sperm count or ejaculate
• Increased fat around the belly
• Loss of muscle and muscle tone
• Problems sleeping and insomnia
• Moodiness, irritability and depression
• Feeling tired and exhausted all day
• Night sweats, chills or hot flashes
• Increased breast size and flabbiness
Causes Associated with Low Testosterone in Men
Low levels of testosterone are linked to male aging. Diseases of the glands that produce and control testosterone also cause low levels.
Hypogonadism and Low T in Men. Less testosterone is produced as a man ages. Low testosterone levels in older men is sometimes called “Andropause.”
Replacing Lost Testosterone. The inability of the testes to produce testosterone naturally is medically known as “Hypogonadism” and may require Testosterone Replacement Therapy for treatment.
Free Testosterone and SBHG. A substantial increase in Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SBHG), a protein that binds itself to free testosterone thereby reducing the amount of bio-available testosterone in a man’ body, is a common cause of Low T.
Bio-available Testosterone or Free Testosterone is an important measure of how much male hormone is circulating in a man’s system. A simple blood test can measure both total and free testosterone.
Testosterone Levels. The level of testosterone in a male’s body changes throughout the day. Testosterone levels are highest in the morning, which is indicated by the spontaneous morning erection healthy men may experience. If morning erections cease or decrease, a visit to a hormone doctor to check your T levels is recommended.
Loss of Sexual Desire tied to Low Testosterone. As men age, it is normal for them to have less interest in sex. However, it is abnormal for a man to have absolutely no interest or desire in sex. This could be caused by significantly low levels of testosterone. When testosterone levels are increased, most men report a dramatic boost in their sexual desire and sexual ability.
Causes of Low T. Damage to the cells of the testes can cause low testosterone. This kind of damage can be a result of:
- Accidents and injury
- Inflammation of the testicles
- Testicular cancer
- Hormone receptor cell failure
- Radiation therapy or chemotherapy used to treat testicular cancer
Diseases that affect the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands can also cause low testosterone. These include cancer, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases of either gland. Certain drugs can affect the way the pituitary gland works and cause low testosterone. Two examples are Opiates like Morphine, and anabolic steroids.
Certain genetic diseases cause low testosterone. Abnormalities in chromosomes, the genetic materials of the body, cause genetic diseases. For example, myotonic dystrophy causes testicular failure between the ages of 30 and 40.
As we discussed, it is normal for aging men to have somewhat less interest in sex as they get older, and it is also normal for older men to have less spontaneous erections or to have the need for additional stimulation for sexual activity. However, if sexual dysfunction or loss of libido is being caused by low testosterone, then hormone replacement therapy can help.
Low T Diagnosis with a Simple Blood Test
Men with a low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, reduced sperm count, decrease in muscle size, excessive weight gain, extreme fatigue, or other signs of low testosterone should have a blood test to find out their testosterone levels.
Normal testosterone levels are 300 to 1,200 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). Testosterone levels are usually highest early in the morning and Male Hormone Replacement Doctors often measure it at that time.
The Testosterone Doctor’s main concern is to find out if there is a disease that is causing low testosterone. If not, it may be an extreme case of low testosterone due to aging or Andropause.
It is not always easy to diagnose the cause of low testosterone. You can help your doctor by providing a detailed and accurate medical history. To get your medical history, the doctor will ask about:
- Your past or present illnesses
- All prescription and nonprescription drugs you are taking
- Any sexual problems you are having
- Recent events that may have caused you stress
Your hormone doctor may request a bone density test. Low testosterone levels can make the bones more brittle and cause osteoporosis in men. If the doctor thinks there may be a tumor in the pituitary or hypothalamus, he or she may need to take a picture of your brain. This is done with a CT scan or MRI. CTs and MRIs are painless. CT scans use x-rays and MRI uses a strong magnetic field. MRI is usually better at showing pituitary or hypothalamic tumors.
If your HRT doctor suspects a genetic cause of low testosterone, he or she may request a genetic test. This is a process to examine a person’s DNA. It shows whether the person is at risk of passing a genetic condition to his or her descendants. If the doctor diagnoses a tumor, inflammation, or genetic disease that is causing low testosterone, it is best to get treatment. Sometimes an endocrine or hormone doctor is needed for treatment. Hormone replacement therapy is usually recommended to make up for low levels of testosterone.