Hypocgonadism (low testosterone) can occur at any time during a man’s life. If it occurs during his fetal development, it may be due to hemochromatosis, too much iron in the blood causing testicular failure, or genetic diseases like Klinefelter syndrome, Kallmann syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, or Myotonic dystrophy. These diseases cause the hypothalmus and pituitary, the brain centers that control the gonads, to function improperly. The result is impaired growth of the baby boy’s external sex organs.
If hypogonadism occurs during puberty, the boy may face impaired muscle development, underdeveloped adult genitals, breast enlargement, decreased body hair, or problems with normal voice deepening.
In adulthood, low testosterone can be caused by:
- genital injury,
- type 2 diabetes,
- chronic liver or kidney disease,
- COPD or other lung disease,
- cirrhosis of the liver,
- HIV or AIDS,
- pituitary gland tumors,
- chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer, or
- steroid or alcohol abuse.
The most common cause of low testosterone, however, is the natural aging process. Male testosterone production peaks in the teens and early twenties, but starts gradually declining after age 30.
A man’s testosterone level never reaches zero, as female estrogen levels do during menopause, but when it becomes too low, usually considered to be lower than 300 ng/dL, he usually notices that he has signs and symptoms of low testosterone:
- a decreased sex drive,
- less energy,
- weight gain,
- feelings of depression,
- low self-esteem,
- less body hair, and/or
- thinner bones.
Low Testosterone Treatments
Testosterone replacement therapies include gels, injections, patches, long-acting pellets, and oral inserts. Treatment normally lasts for only a short while under a doctor’s close supervision.
Young men who wish to remain fertile should not take these treatments. They turn off sperm production and even when a young man concludes treatment, his sperm count may never return to it’s original level. Men in this category should instead consider an alternative class of drugs called SERMs, selective estrogen receptor modulators.
Non-drug treatments are such lifestyle changes as eating healthier, losing weight, and increasing exercise.
If you’re thinking about testosterone replacement therapy, visit a doctor to see if any of them are appropriate to you. If so, they can be quite beneficial. They can:
- increase your sex drive, performance, and satisfaction level;
- help you lose weight;
- increase your energy;
- increase your confidence by making you feel and look better;
- increase your muscle mass and size;
- decrease your body fat;
- lift your mood; and
- increase your bone density.
Testosterone replacement therapies have been shown to reduce some of the effects of the aging process. They aren’t silver bullets that will restore you to adolescence, but they can help you feel younger and more energized, thus improving your self-esteem.