Controlling secondary sexual characteristics in men (including muscle mass, deep voice, and body hair) and the sex drive, testosterone is produced in the testicles. With age the concentration of testosterone decreases, and when it reaches less than 300ng/dL it is considered low. There are also possible other causes for low testosterone including (but not restricted to) injury, infection, HIV, diabetes, alcohol abuse, cancer, thyroid problems or as a side effect of other medication.
A low concentration of testosterone can cause several symptoms such as a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, decreased sperm count, hair loss, fatigue and insomnia.
To get an accurate diagnosis of low testosterone you should visit your GP for a blood test.
“A decrease in testosterone levels is a normal process in a man’s life, however, these levels can sometimes plummet drastically causing symptoms such as mood swings, low sex drive and osteoporosis. A misconception of low T is that it can only occur in older men when in fact younger men can also develop the condition known as hypogonadism when the body does not produce enough testosterone. No matter your age if you’re suffering from the symptoms of low T there is treatment available in the form of hormone replacement therapy.”
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is something that is usually associated with men, when in fact it is a hormone that is found in both men and women. In men this hormone is produced in the testicles and in women testosterone is produced in the ovaries. Men make a lot more testostosterone as it plays an important role in sperm production which is why it is associated more with the male body. It is a primary male sex hormone that is not only responsible for male sexual development but also for muscle and bone mass, fat distribution and the production of red blood cells.
During puberty testosterone production begins to increase and it is normal for these levels to decrease after the age of 30. These levels should never fall drastically and will usually only decrease around 2% per year. If levels of testosterone fall below normal this is known as low testosterone or low t. Anything below 300 ng/dL is considered to be low t. Testosterone is a vital hormone in the body and the lack of production of this hormone can significantly affect sexual development, appearance and mood.
What are the signs and symptoms of low testosterone?
The signs of decreased levels of testosterone can be hard to notice straight away, however, there are some signs to look out for that may indicate low testostosterone and prompt you to visit a GP for testing which is usually determined by a simple blood test. Low testosterone has been described as the ‘male menopause’ as some of the symptoms are similar to the female menopause when the oestrogen hormone levels decline. Symptoms of low T include:
Low sex drive and erection problems
Low testosterone can negatively impact a man’s sex life. A decrease in sex drive is common in older men, however, when libido drops significantly and drastically this can be a sign of low T. Testosterone also helps towards achieving and maintaining an erection and those with low levels may experience erection problems.
Lack of energy and fatigue
Low sex drive may also be a result of the lack of energy and motivation that low T causes. Low testosterone usually causes extreme tiredness that is not improved with sleep. If you’re usually an energetic person and are suddenly feeling tired and are not able to motivate yourself like normal, this may be due to insufficient levels of testosterone.
Testosterone plays a significant role in bone mass development and when not enough of this hormone is being produced this can cause thinning of the bones. Bone loss is more susceptible in older men with low T and they will experience more fractures as a result.
Men with low T will experience changes in their mood usually feeling low, irritable and depressed. Changes in mood may be the most notable symptom of low T and may prompt you to visit your GP if you’re not feeling your best.
Hair loss and weight gain
Your appearance may also change as the levels of testosterone decrease. Although hair loss and weight gain are common amongst men as they age there may be an underlying cause of this such as low T, this is why the symptoms of this condition can be missed as these symptoms can simply be part of the parcel of getting old. Testosterone affects fat distribution, muscle mass development and hair production and low levels may cause hair loss, lack of muscle and increased body fat.
Men with low T may become infertile as testosterone plays an important role in producing sperm. If the testes are not producing enough testosterone this can cause a low sperm count, a low sperm count makes conceiving a child less possible.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of low T such as low energy, mood and sex drive, you have fragile bones, have gained a significant amount of weight or are having fertility issues these are all signs that you should visit your GP for testing.
What causes low testosterone
There are a number of causes of low testosterone, one of the most common being age. Testosterone production peaks at puberty and slows down as men age. The aging process is a significant cause of low T with it affecting many men in their 50s and 60s. However, low testosterone is a condition that also affects younger men. Some males can be born with the condition known as hypogonadism which is when the body doesn’t produce enough of the hormone. Hypogonadism can develop at any stage in life including fetal development, childhood and later on in adulthood.
Injury to the testicles, the body part that produces testosterone, can cause a reduction in this hormone. Damage to both testicles can impair testosterone production.
Serious illnesses such as cancer can also impact testosterone levels. The physical and emotional stress of an illness such as this can shut down the reproductive system, affecting the body’s ability to produce this primary hormone. The treatment that is given for cancer such as chemotherapy can also cause testosterone levels to drop. However, testosterone levels return back to normal after cancer treatment stops.
Other causes of low testosterone include:
- Abnormalities of the pituitary gland which releases the hormone
- Diseases such as type 2 diabetes, HIV/AIDS, kidney and liver disease and obesity
- Medication - low T can be a side effect of some medications
- Genetics - it is thought that there may be a hereditary tendency for low testosterone
Is low Testosterone the ‘male menopause’?
As low testosterone usually occurs around a similar age that women go through the menopause and there is a similar process where the primary hormone declines, low T is considered to be the male equivalent of the menopause. However, the menopause happens to every woman once they reach a certain age, whereas testosterone levels decrease steadily and most men will not experience symptoms. Lower than normal testosterone levels is a condition that will only affect some men and cannot be described as the menopause.
Increasing testosterone levels with hormone replacement therapy
The main form of treatment for low T is testosterone replacement therapy. This therapy is available in many different forms such as tablets, gels, patches and injections and are used to replace the hormone and increase levels for those who are suffering from the symptoms of low T.
Testosterone gels are applied to the body daily to areas such as the shoulders, upper arms or the abdomen or thighs. Injections are a common form of testosterone replacement therapy as they’re administered by a doctor and are given less frequently than other types of therapy.
At Doctor-4-U you can buy testosterone replacement therapy online in gel form providing it has been deemed suitable by one of our online doctors. The types of therapy that are available to buy include:
Many people experience improvements in their symptoms with testosterone replacement therapy when the hormone reaches normal levels. If you have been diagnosed with low testosterone and are suffering from the symptoms of this condition, gel testosterone replacement therapy may be the appropriate treatment for you.