Testosterone is the naturally occurring hormone in both men and women. However, the effects of testosterone are more prevalent in men because it is the guiding male hormone and is in a much lower concentrations in women. Testosterone is responsible for the onset of puberty in males because it is responsible for the elevated sex drive, muscle production, body hair production, bone development and sperm production. Testosterone is at its highest levels in men in the mornings and wanes throughout the day, and there is a marked decrease in testosterone production beginning in men at approximately 30 years of age. However, this decreased testosterone production should not produce any noticeable changes at this point. The threshold for a diagnosis of low testosterone is often met because issues have presented themselves.
Symptoms of low testosterone include low sperm count, erectile dysfunction and enlarged breasts. A marked decrease in sex drive is also a prevalent symptom of low testosterone. Ironically, these are not the most severe symptoms, and in most cases, these issues can be corrected easily. Some men experience more severe symptoms like depression, mood swings, and loss of muscle tone, osteoporosis and loss of body hair. Hot flashes alone or with any of the other symptoms is also a common occurrence in people suspected of severe low testosterone levels. There are many causes for low testosterone, but the types of low testosterone are categorized as primary and secondary hypogonadism, and a doctor will be necessary to determine which of the two is the culprit.
Primary hypogonadism is commonly referred to as primary testicular failure. This problem is caused by direct problems with the testicles themselves. Common causes of this type of testicular injury are testicular cancer, or the radiation or chemotherapy treatments for this form of cancer, and physical trauma. Trauma has the combined negative effect of negatively affecting sperm production. Testosterone production is also negatively affected by undescended testicles. When the testicles do not descend from their developmental area in the stomach to the scrotum during childhood, testosterone production will be seriously arrested.
Secondary hypogonadism occurs because of glandular issues occurring in the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These glands function primarily to regulate the production of testosterone itself, so issues with them will negatively affect testosterone levels greatly. Medications can also be the source of secondary hypogonadism. The main culprit in this realm is often pain relieving medications like opioids. Because testosterone production naturally decreases with age, ageing is a very common cause, but diseases like type 2 diabetes are causes also.