Testosterone is a male sex hormone made in the testicles. Testosterone plays a key role in male sexual development, from puberty to fertility. Some men can experience low testosterone levels which can lead to a number of symptoms that may cause bother. Over time, testosterone hormones do generally decline with age.
Other than age, testosterone levels can decline for a number of reasons. This can be due to a condition they are born with such as Kleinfelters or Noonans syndrome or it may develop over time due to certain conditions, such as diabetes, infections, pituitary disease, or HIV. Direct injury or surgery to the testicles can also result in low levels. It can also occur as a side effect of medication such as antidepressants, or chemotherapy. Smoking, alcohol, and being overweight have all been linked to lower testosterone levels too.
Symptoms of low testosterone can really vary; they can be more specific to sexual development or more general symptoms. Specific symptoms can include reduced libido (sex drive), erectile dysfunction, loss of body hair, and leaner muscle mass. More general symptoms can include tiredness, depression, poor concentration, poor energy, and reduced performance at work.
Your doctor will take a detailed history from you and ask you about any specific and general symptoms you may be experiencing. Providing you are comfortable, your doctor will often need to perform an intimate examination of your testicles. Your doctor may arrange for blood tests to measure your hormone and testosterone levels, and other blood tests that may be linked to the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to a hormone specialist (endocrinologist) or a urologist for further management.
Treatment very much depends on the cause identified. Addressing the underlying issue is an important way to improve testosterone levels. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a specialist who can consider testosterone therapy (by way of injections, patches, or gels). It is important to note that it can take a moderate amount of time (3-6 months) for you to notice an improvement in your symptoms. It is important that lifestyle changes are made to improve your fitness and maintain a healthy weight, as well as eating nutritious well-balanced meals. Avoiding smoking and reducing your alcohol intake is strongly recommended.
Was this helpful?
Was this helpful?