Understanding the symptoms and causes of low testosterone

11 Feb
2015
By Amelia Smith

When you hear the word ‘testosterone’, what is the first that comes to your mind? Is it men building muscles or athletes racing across the finish line? In reality, it is believed that testosterone play various roles other than just developing muscles. Though it does contribute to aggressive behavior and raging hormones, balanced testosterone can play a significant role in promoting one’s health.

People often talk about its association to the male genetics, but, truth reveals that a woman too can produce 300 micrograms of testosterone per day. As per the American Diabetes Association, more than 13 million men residing in the U.S have been detected with low testosterone levels.  Read further to get a comprehensive understanding of the causes and symptoms of low testosterone. Also, find out the medical conditions associated with it.

  • The importance of  testosterone:

Testosterone is a type of hormone produced in the body. In men, it is formed in the testicles and is accountable for stimulating sperm production and sexual drive. It deepens a man’s voice and plays a meaningful role in the process of boys evolving into men. Apart from that it builds muscles, levels of red blood cells, and development of bone mass. It drives physical processes and boosts mental capacity.

Also Read: Importance of vitamin D

  • The causes of low testosterone:

The production of this hormone decreases with the flow in time. This low testosterone could lead to a range of symptoms and complications. The decline begins from the age of 30. In medical terms, it is called as hypogonadism. When a man’s testosterone drops below a level of 300 ng/dL, it’s considered to be low. When there is a signaling dilemma between the brains and a man’s testes, it reduces the level of testosterone that is being produced.  This medical condition occurs due to various reasons. Some of the causes are injury, infection, or loss of testicles. It also occurs as a result of pituitary gland dysfunction, inflammatory diseases, hemochromatosis (too much iron), chronic kidney failure and liver cirrhosis, alcoholism, and obesity. A few more causes include radiation or chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer in the genital area.

While women undergo a drastic drop in estrogen at a certain age, the generation of testosterone in the male counterpart decreases gradually. Men can experience a broad range of symptoms of low testosterone if it falls more than it should on a regular level.

  • The symptoms of low testosterone:

Some of the common traits faced by both men and women are depression and decreased sense of well-being. It also causes lack of concentration, insomnia, reduced strength and endurance level, decreased sex drive, and loss of muscle mass. Though women experience weakening of bones called as osteoporosis, low testosterone causes less bone strength and loss of bone mass. Older men with fewer levels of this hormone are more susceptible to fractures in the feet, hips, ribs, and wrists. Both the genders witnesses mood changes. Women go through it especially during their menopause and experience similar symptoms.

Men face certain symptoms such as decreased penis size, erectile dysfunction, reduced height, moderate stubble development, and reduction in the quantity of body hair. Testosterone plays an indispensable role in a man’s libido. Low levels of this testosterone cause less desire to live a sexually active life. It doesn’t just help in erections, but also stimulates receptors and sends signals to the brain. This is to produce nitric oxide—a molecule that triggers an erection. Men with low testosterone will discern a reduction in the level of sperms during ejaculation. It also helps in the motility of sperms. The chances of turning impotent, are very likely if, not treated at an early stage.

Sometimes, though a man sleeps for plenty of hours, he may find it difficult to hit the gym. This is because of low energy levels and fatigue that makes a person feel stressed and lethargic. Men with symptoms of low testosterone will notice a drastic downfall in their muscle mass. This is especially in the arms, legs, and chest. To get rid of this they start weight-training at the gym, but the hormones cause difficulty to gain back the lost muscle mass. According to research, the genes that control body fat percentage are responsible for testosterone levels in a man. Low testosterone level of a person causes a tremendous increase in body fat, which leads to an unhealthy physique.

Women who suffer from hypogonadism will see specific symptoms of low testosterone such as an increase in breast size, imbalanced menstruation cycles, and lowered libido. In fact, an acute case of low testosterone called as central hypogonadism involves impaired vision, headaches, milky discharge from the breasts, and other problems caused by hormones. Sometimes in youngsters it even results in delayed puberty.

  • Available treatment for low testosterone:

In case, if you are battling these symptoms then it is necessary for you to see a doctor. Blood tests help determine a low level of testosterone, and there is treatment for it according to its severity. It can be diagnosed by measuring blood levels. As it keeps fluctuating throughout the day, several measurements have to be taken accurately. Usually, doctors recommend doing the test in the morning as it is the time of the day when testosterone levels are at the highest. Most doctors prescribe testosterone replacement therapy. The treatment for low testosterone may include discussing your medical history with the physician as well as laboratory tests.

Gels, creams, subcutaneous implants are some of the remedies that are known for boosting the hormone. Another method that is suggested is getting injected into a muscle or wearing a patch that gradually releases the desired hormone. Each technique has benefits as well as certain downfalls, which need to be discussed with your doctor. Men with prostate cancer are asked to avoid taking such medication because it could enhance tumor growth. Initially, the symptoms of low testosterone may not be completely visible, and you may tend to ignore them. But, it could hamper and destroy your hormonal cycle. At a later stage men may even have to operate and take out their testicles to avoid the risk of cancer.

Make sure the causes of low testosterone are not due to the current medication you are taking. Visit your doctor for a medical check-up to understand the level of hormones in your body. Besides medication, another healthy way to deal with this issue is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercising, gaining healthy weight; avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and steroids can help maintain your testosterone level on a daily basis.

Also Read: Important nutrient every man needs 

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Amelia Smith

Nutritionist, herbalist, health and medicine writer and yoga enthusiast, Amelia Smith, is a professional in the health, nutrition and diet industry.

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