Low Testosterone

Testosterone is the main male hormone. It is responsible for the development of the male reproductive organs, secondary male characteristics such as the growth of facial hair and the deepening of voice, and masculine behavior. Decreased testosterone levels are usually seen in middle-aged or older males, but can occur at any time.

Causes

  • Aging: Production of testosterone decreases after the age of 30
  • Obesity: Increased body fat effects hormone production
  • Medications: Chronic use of certain medications such as opioids and steroids
  • Severe Physical and Emotional Stress: Extreme stress can cause the reproductive system to shut down temporarily.
  • Diseases: Certain diseases such as tuberculosis, AIDS, kidney failure and tumors.
  • Trauma: Injury to the testicles

Signs and Symptoms

  • Low energy
  • Mental fogginess
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Increased body fat
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Slow hair growth
  • Loss of hair
  • Gynecomastia

Children and adolescents may have underdeveloped genitals, disproportionately long limbs, lack of body hair, and failure of deepening of the voice during puberty.

Diagnosis

Low testosterone may be diagnosed based on: 

  • Physical Exam: Changes in external genitalia and hair growth, or the development of gynecomastia.
  • Medical History: Loss of sex drive, experience of impotence or erectile dysfunction, present or past illnesses, and family history.
  • Blood Test: A blood test may be ordered and performed in the morning because that is when testosterone levels are the highest.

Treatment

Low testosterone levels in males can be treated by hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This could be in the form of testosterone injections, gels or patches, and tablets.