Low testosterone levels are not uncommon in men and can stem from a variety of causes. The most common low testosterone cause is the natural aging process. Beginning around the age of 30, hormone production begins to drop off, causing low levels of many hormones, including testosterone. Hormone replacement therapy is one option to increase depleted levels of this sex hormone and to reduce low testosterone side effects.Causes of Low Testosterone
Andropause, or male menopause, is a natural decrease in hormone levels that occurs from aging. However, there are other health reasons that testosterone levels may not be low. Low testosterone cause that are most common include:
- Problems with the testicles from birth or caused by injury or illness
- Damage to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland due to disease or injury
- Certain diseases and conditions, such as diabetes
Testosterone is produced in the testicles, so any illness or injury to this area can affect sex hormone production directly. Undescended testicles and chromosome abnormalities can be present from birth. Mumps is one of the most common illnesses to affect the testicles and production of testosterone. Cancer treatment can also affect testosterone production. This effect may go away once treatment is completed, but there is a risk it can be permanent.
Other hormones are necessary to stimulate testosterone production. These hormones are GRH, TSH and LH, and they are produced in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Tumors in or near these glands can affect production of these hormones, as well as any treatments.
Certain diseases and conditions can also affect the production of testosterone or any of the hormones required in the stimulation of hormone production. any illness or condition that cuts off blood flow to the glands or that causes inflammation in or around the glands can also affect levels of testosterone in the body.
Obesity can decrease testosterone levels as fat cells promote the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. The more fat cells present, the greater this effect will be noticed.
Are There Any Side Effects to Lower Testosterone Levels?
Having lower levels of testosterone can have serious effects on health, including increased risk of heart attack. Symptoms of Low testosterone include:
- Mood swings
- Decreased sex drive
- Problems with erection
- Decrease in strength or muscle mass
- Bone loss
- Increase in fat
One of the most obvious symptoms of testosterone levels decreasing is lowered libido. Testosterone is necessary for proper erectile functioning and sex drive. Even symptoms such as a less pleasurable erection and decreased amount of ejaculate can indicate a problem with testosterone levels.
With loss of muscle tissue comes loss of strength and a decrease in metabolism which can lead to an increase in body fat, especially around the mid section. Testosterone is also necessary for proper bone health and the growth of red blood cells as well.
Can Low Testosterone Be Treated?
Hormone replacement therapy is just one option to treat andropause and its effects on the body. There are also natural supplements and lifestyle changes that can stimulate hormone production as well.