Symptoms of Testosterone Deficiency in Men Monday, February 1st, 2016
Testosterone is the most important sex hormone throughout a man’s life. This critical hormone is mainly produced in the testes by a specialized group of cells known as Leydig cells, which in turn are controlled by a hcsormone called luteinizing hormone. Testosterone is critical to proper development before a male is even born, but it’s effects become most pronounced during puberty, when production increases dramatically.
Testosterone is essential for healthy sexual and reproductive function, but its role in men’s health goes far beyond that. Some of testosterone’s functions include:
Development of secondary sexual characteristics during puberty, including deepening of the voice and growth of facial and body hair.
Increased muscle mass and healthy bone structure.
Protection against heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Mood regulation and overall well-being.
In general, the normal testosterone levels in males ranges from 270 to 1070 ng/dL. From the age of 30 onward, however, total testosterone production in men declines by about 1% per year. Testosterone deficiency is diagnosed when hormone production falls below the reference levels for each age.
The effects of testosterone deficiency can range from mildly annoying to seriously impacting quality of life, depending on how severe the deficiency is and what’s causing it. The most common cause of low testosterone in men is aging, but there are other reasons men suffer from testosterone deficiency, including:
Condition affecting the testes: Underlying medical conditions that affect the testes can prevent production of adequate testosterone. Some of these conditions are present from birth while others can occur at various stages of a man’s life. These include undescended testes, hemochromatosis (too much iron in the blood), loss of blood supply or inadequate blood supply to the testes, loss of testes due to accident or trauma, and complications following mumps. Also, chemotherapy and radiotherapy lower testosterone levels and cause damage to the arteries that carry blood to the penis.
Pituitary gland disorders: The pituitary gland is a pea-shaped organ located at the base of the brain. It produces the luteinizing hormone that regulates the production of testosterone, so disorders affecting the pituitary gland can also affect testosterone production. Pituitary tumors are the most common cause of pituitary-related hormone deficiency. The tumors, which can be benign or cancerous, can interfere with pituitary function or may actually produce a hormone that signals the gland to stop producing testosterone.
Hypothalamus gland disorders: The hypothalamus gland is located deep within the brain and helps control the pituitary gland, so conditions that affect the hypothalamus gland can also affect testosterone production. These conditions include tumors and birth defects. This is a relatively rare cause of testosterone deficiency.
Symptoms of Testosterone Deficiency in Different Stages of Life
Signs and symptoms of testosterone deficiency can vary depending on how old a male is when the deficiency occurs.
Fetal development. If the body doesn’t produce sufficient testosterone during fetal development, it can lead to impaired growth of the external sex organs. In more serious cases, the fetus can be born with ambiguous genitals (e.g., genitals that possess male and female characteristics) or the child can have underdeveloped male genitals.
Puberty. Testosterone deficiency in childhood or early adolescence may delay puberty or lead to incomplete development. Symptoms associated with testosterone deficiency in puberty include decreased muscle mass; lack of voice deepening; impaired growth of the penis, testicles, and body hair; excessive growth of the arms and legs in relation to the trunk; and gynecomastia, or enlargement of the breasts.
Adulthood. In adult men, testosterone deficiency can have a wide range of symptoms. Physical changes may include erectile dysfunction and loss of interest in sex, infertility, hot flashes, decrease in facial and body hair, decrease in muscle mass, development of breast tissue, loss of bone mass (osteoporosis), and fatigue. Affected individuals can also have changes in cholesterol levels, lipid levels, and hemoglobin, which can raise the risk of heart attack and heart disease. Testosterone deficiency can also result to emotional changes such as irritability, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, and lack in a sense of well-being.If you’re experiencing possible symptoms of testosterone deficiency, you should see a qualified medical professional. The only accurate way to detect testosterone deficiency is to have your doctor measure the amount of testosterone in your blood. You will need to have several measurements in order to detect a deficiency as testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day. Most doctors prefer to measure testosterone levels in the morning, when levels tend to be highest.
The treatment plan will depend on your testosterone levels and symptoms.
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