Testosterone is a male hormone that is actually found in low amounts in women as well. Testosterone plays a key role in various processes in the male body, including sex drive.
It is produced mainly by the testicles with a level in the body of at least 300 ng/l but not more than 800 mg/day. Testosterone decreases with age, starting around the age of 30.
Men lose about 1% of their testosterone level per year normally so if your testosterone level is already on the low side, you can easily develop low T syndrome, which is a condition of low testosterone.
Low T syndrome
A syndrome of low testosterone is called low T syndrome. This caused by not producing enough testosterone or by not producing testosterone at all. The major medical conditions that contribute to low testosterone syndrome are smoking, diabetes, infections, STDs, hormonal imbalances, genetic diseases like Klinefelter’s syndrome, and obesity.
Symptoms of Low T syndrome
- Low libido or disinterest in sex
- Infertility due to a lack of sperm and decrease sperm motility
- Sexual problems like erectile dysfunction
- Irritability, depression, and other emotional problems
- Low muscle mass or osteoporosis
- Abnormal fat deposition
- Hair loss in the area where testosterone is produced
- Abnormal red blood cell production
- Worsening of congestive heart failure
- Worsening of sleep apnea
The diagnosis of low T syndrome is a combination of having symptoms of low testosterone and demonstrable low levels of testosterone in the bloodstream. The levels of testosterone can be due to problems with the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, or the testicles themselves.
Men with Klinefelter’s syndrome tend to have low testosterone because they have an extra X chromosome that leads to abnormal testicles that generally do not make testosterone or sperm.
Not every man with low levels of testosterone in their system have low T syndrome. It is the presence of symptoms along with low testosterone in the system that together means that a man has low T syndrome.
Causes Of Low T Syndrome
Low T syndrome can be caused by the following conditions:
- Being overweight
- Having type 2 diabetes
- Having a genetic condition that causes a lack of sperm production and hypogonadism
- Chronic liver disease, usually caused by alcoholism
- Kidney disease, chronic
- Hormonal problems with the hypothalamus or pituitary gland
- STDs such as HIV/AIDs, epididymitis, or orchitis
- Other hormonal conditions
Although testosterone therapy helps with hypogonadism, whether it helps in the reversal or slowing of normal effects of aging and lower testosterone levels is unclear. Several published research articles have conflicting results and more research is needed to make a final determination about the use of testosterone for healthy aging males.
Testing For Low T Syndrome
There is a blood test along with the history of symptoms that can together make the diagnosis of low T syndrome. Generally, the testosterone level is lower than 300 ng/dL for a diagnosis of low T to be made. Other diagnosis, such as low thyroid conditions or mental disorders must be ruled out as possible causes of the symptoms.
Treatment Of Low T Syndrome
Doctors are less likely to treat an older man with low T syndrome than a younger man because of the risk of heart disease in men who undergo testosterone replacement therapy.
The main treatments for low T syndrome involve giving back testosterone in the following ways:
- Testosterone gels: Gels such as Androgel and Axiron are applied to the skin and are taken once per day to absorb into the skin. They are provided in single dose units so you don’t give too much medication.
- Transdermal Testosterone Patch: This is applied once daily and is easier than gel to apply. A mouth patch exists that can be applied to the upper gums twice daily to be allowed to absorb into the system.
- Injectable form of Testosterone: This can be delivered through injections given about once per month.
- Injected pellets: This involves pellets containing testosterone that are injected into the buttocks and that last for 3-4 months.
Pills of testosterone do not survive the first pass effect in the liver or the environment of the stomach so that they don’t survive when given orally.
Natural Methods of increasing Testosterone Levels
You can increase your endogenous testosterone levels by getting plenty of sleep, remaining active and maintaining a healthy weight.
Risk Factors for Taking Testosterone
The major risk factors to taking testosterone include the following:
- Growth of prostate tissue
- Growth of prostate cancer tissue
- Skin reactions
- Over production of red blood cells, which can lead to getting a heart attack
- Shrinking of the testicles
- Diminishing sperm production
- Getting a heart attack
Because there can be serious risks involved in taking testosterone, you should have a serious talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of taking replacement testosterone therapy.