Testosterone is one of the primary male sex hormones produced by the testicles. Alternatively referred to as androgens, these hormones regulate fertility, improve muscle mass, manage fat distribution, and aid in red blood cell production. Testosterone levels also play a key role in puberty, helping boys to transform physically into fully grown adults and capable of reproduction.
Imbalance in testosterone levels leads to the development of hypogonadism. This condition is commonly known as testosterone or androgen deficiency. Testosterone deficiency is not fatal, but it will eventually affect the quality of your life as symptoms of testosterone deficiency result in physical and mental changes.
The two known causes of hypogonadism are primary (impaired testicular function) and secondary (impaired pituitary or hypothalamus function) hypogonadism. Other risk factors include the following issues.
- Testicular injury
- Side effects of certain opiate analgesic category medications
- Pituitary tumors or high levels of prolactin that can result in a hormonal imbalance
- Serious conditions like type 2 diabetes, kidney diseases, liver diseases, obesity, and HIV/AIDS can cause an imbalance in testosterone levels
- Klinefelter syndrome, Kallman syndrome, myotonic dystrophy, hemochromatosis, and Prader-Willi syndrome are the genetic diseases that can cause a deficiency
Note that men between the ages of 20 and 30 have higher levels of testosterone. Subsequently, aging directly causes a drop of approximately 1.6% by the age of 40.
Symptoms of testosterone deficiency
Men of different ages will suffer from varying symptoms of a testosterone deficiency.
- Insufficient growth of the penis and testes is a characteristic symptom during early childhood
- Poor development of facial hair, body hair, pubic hair, stunted growth and muscle development are visible changes during puberty. Voice change is one of the main transformations that is also affected
- Mood changes, poor concentration, low levels of energy, reduced muscle strength, and increase in body fat are among symptoms experienced during adulthood. Testosterone deficiency will also greatly affect your sex drive. Difficulties in getting and maintaining an erection, low sperm count or diminished volume, reduced beard or body hair growth, and osteoporosis are among symptoms that you will experience during and post adulthood
Diagnosis of testosterone deficiency
A thorough analysis of your medical history helps doctors understand the fertility levels and sexual function, and identify the known symptoms of testosterone deficiency. A physical examination is conducted to check the size and function of the testicles.
Multiple blood tests are done to determine current levels of testosterone. Testosterone deficiency can also be caused due to other medical conditions. Apart from blood tests, genetic tests, MRI scans, and semen analysis will help rule out external causes.
Treatment options for testosterone deficiency
Treatment will mainly depend on whether the procedure is being done to improve fertility, sexual functions or both.
This treatment is done to improve your fertility mainly with two different types of hormones, i.e., human chorionic gonadotropin and human menopausal gonadotropin, to help improve sperm development. The therapy is effective in treating secondary hypogonadism
Testosterone replacement therapy
The therapy mainly focuses on restoring normal levels of testosterone in the bloodstream. Some noticeable benefits of this therapy include increased sex drive, improvement in bone density, reduction in body fat, and an overall sense of well being attained due to balanced levels of testosterone.