What are the Causes of Low T
What are the causes of Low T? Testosterone levels in men (and women) drop as we age. Symptoms can be subtle, but treatment is available if the symptoms affect your lifestyle.
The hormone Testosterone is produced by the testicles. Testosterone affects your appearance and sexual development, stimulates sperm production and sex drive, and helps build muscle and bone mass.
Testosterone production typically decreases with age. According to the American Urological Association, about 40 percent of males ages 45 and older have low testosterone.
If your testosterone production drastically drops, you may experience various symptoms. Testosterone plays a crucial role in the sex drive, also known as libido. A drop in Testosterone levels can cause a decline in sex drive. Still, those with low testosterone will likely experience a more drastic drop.
Testosterone is essential for achieving and maintaining an erection. It instructs the brain to produce nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator. This vital molecule causes the blood vessels to expand, allowing an erection to occur. Low T levels can affect your ability to achieve an erection before sex or have spontaneous erections, such as during sleep.
However, research is inconclusive on whether testosterone replacement therapy can successfully treat erectile dysfunction. In a 2016 review of studies examining the benefit of testosterone in men with erection difficulties, nearly half showed no improvement with testosterone treatment. BHRT directly treats the causes of Low T.
What Can Cause Low T?
Other health conditions can often cause erectile difficulties. These include:
- thyroid disorders
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- Smoking and alcohol use can also contribute.
Experiencing hot flashes can be a sign of low testosterone. Symptoms include heavy sweating, reddening of the skin, and night sweats.
Testosterone plays a role in many essential functions in the body. One is hair production. While balding is a natural part of growing older for many men, it may or may not be hereditary. Men and women with low testosterone may also lose body and facial hair.
Many men with Low T report increased fatigue and decreased energy levels. Your Testosterone levels may be low if you’re consistently tired, even when getting enough sleep. If you find it harder to get motivated to exercise, that can also be from Low T.
Men with Low T might also notice decreases in muscle mass. Testosterone is a vital hormone in building muscle. Interestingly, A 2016 review found that testosterone levels affect muscle mass but not strength or function.
Men with Low T can also experience increased body fat or enlarged breast tissue (gynecomastia). Gynecomastia occurs when the body has an imbalance of testosterone and estrogen.
Osteoporosis is often associated with women, but men with Low T can also experience bone loss. Testosterone plays a vital role in producing and strengthening bone. Men with low testosterone, especially older men, may have less bone density, increasing the risk of bone fractures.
Low T and the Brain
Low T can also cause mood changes and decreased mental function (brain fog) in both men and women.
Testosterone levels and cognitive function, especially memory, decline with age. Because of this, doctors theorize that Low T can contribute to poor memory. In a 2019 review of studies, testosterone supplementation was linked with improved memory in older men with low testosterone though the effect may be small.
However, a 2017 study on testosterone supplementation did not find memory improvements in 493 men with low testosterone levels who took testosterone or a placebo.
Low T has also been linked with an increased risk of anemia. When Testosterone gel was applied to anemic men, there was an improved blood count compared to men using a placebo.
Some symptoms of anemia include:
- difficulty concentrating
- leg cramping
- difficulty sleeping
- rapid heart rate
Having low testosterone may increase your risk of developing other health conditions.
These conditions include:
- heart disease
Testosterone levels are usually 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Low T occurs when testosterone levels fall below 300 ng/dL.
Other tests that may help to determine the cause of low testosterone include:
- serum testosterone
- luteinizing hormone
- blood prolactin level
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
If you have Low T symptoms, schedule an appointment to determine if BHRT is right for you. Testosterone replacement therapy is a lifelong treatment. If you stop treatment, your testosterone levels will drop to their previous levels.
Side effects of testosterone replacement therapy can include:
- enlarged prostate
- shrinking testicles
- decreased sperm count
- high red blood cell count
- fluid retention
- swollen feet or ankles
Testosterone replacement therapy may not be suitable for you if you:
- have an untreated heart condition
- have breast or prostate cancer
- have sleep apnea
- have elevated red blood cell counts
- plan to have children
Males experience a gradual decrease in testosterone as they get older. The older you are, the more likely you’ll have low testosterone, as there are other causes of Low T besides aging.
A variety of factors can cause low testosterone. Men with testosterone levels below 300 ng/dL may experience some symptoms. A doctor can check your testosterone level with a simple blood test.
If you have Low T and the symptoms bother you, testosterone replacement therapy is a standard treatment. Schedule a simple $99 blood test with one of our preferred providers if you want to know your testosterone levels.