Male hypogonadism, or low testosterone, is a relatively common condition in men and can be attributed to a variety of causes. From pituitary disorders to the standard effects of aging, the list for possible causes is quite long. Below are the most common conditions that can cause low testosterone levels in men, as well as tips on how to detect and treat this hormone imbalance.
First: How Do You Know if You Have Low Testosterone?
Testosterone is a male hormone that helps maintain sex drive, sperm production, facial and body hair, muscle development, and bone strength. Although testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day, a normal healthy range is anywhere from 300 ng/dl to 1000 ng/dl.
One way to monitor your levels before receiving blood work is to pay attention to how your body functions. If you notice that you have a decreased libido, erectile dysfunction or enlarged breasts, speak with your doctor about getting your hormone levels measured. Depending on how low your testosterone levels are, the severity of these symptoms will vary.
There are two basic types of hypogonadism: primary and secondary. Primary focuses on testicular failure and its effect on testosterone levels, and secondary indicates problems with the hypothalamus and/or pituitary gland. There are some cases where men are affected by both primary and secondary hypogonadism, either acquiring the conditions from genetic inheritance or injury/disease.
Primary Hypogonadism Causes
One common primary cause for low testosterone levels are undescended testicles. In utero, the testes form inside the abdomen and eventually move down to the scrotum. However, there are some cases where one or both testicles fail to descend at birth. Usually, the body is still able to correct this issue within the first few years of a child’s life. In the cases where the testes have not descended and has gone unnoticed, a malfunction in the testicles and reduced reproduction of testosterone can occur.
Another common cause for low testosterone levels is chemotherapy. The radiation and cancer treatment can negatively interfere with testosterone and sperm production, resulting in decrease in both sperm count and hormone levels. These effects can be temporary, but permanent infertility is a well-known side effect of such treatments.
Secondary Hypogonadism Causes
Kallmann syndrome causes an abnormal development of the hypothalamus in men, negatively effecting the amount of testosterone being produced. This disease also affects sight, causing people to be red-green color blind, as well as hindering their ability to smell.
Being overweight is another cause for low testosterone levels. The extra weight stresses many of your body’s organs, which can affect the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, resulting in declined testosterone levels.
Illness and Injury
One of the most common causes of reduced testosterone levels is concurrent illnesses. When your body is working to fight off disease and illness, your reproductive system shuts down in order to help save energy in fighting antigens. Your body has the same reaction when experiencing both emotional and physical stress.
Treatment Options for Low Testosterone
Axiron Topical Low Testosterone Medication
Seeing this list of possible causes and reasons for low testosterone levels can be a little intimidating. Rest assured that many of these causes can be fixed with the right treatment, and there are many testosterone replacement therapies available in different formats. These include Axiron (available in an under-arm spray), Androderm (a transdermal patch), Androgel (a topical gel), and Striant (a mouth patch). Some patients may also receive testosterone injections under their doctor’s supervision.
Because there are so many different treatment and medication options for low testosterone, it is important to talk to your doctor about your condition and medical history. Your doctor can help you decide what course of treatment is right for you.