What is Male Hypogonadism: Hypogonadism Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
Did you know that low testosterone impacts nearly 40% of males aged 45 and older?
While this hormone is most often linked to one’s sex drive, it also plays a crucial role in sperm production, how men store fat, their muscle and bone mass, and even red blood cell production.
What happens when a man’s reproductive glands don’t produce enough testosterone?
This particular condition is known as male hypogonadism — a condition which often results in issues such as low sex drive, fatigue, and irritability.
According to NIH (National Library of Medicine), hypogonadism in males can significantly lower a person’s quality of life and has even resulted in job loss, relationship problems, and divorce.
It’s important to remember that testosterone isn’t just a sex hormone.
Research is demonstrating that testosterone is essential to metabolism and brain function. So if you’re experiencing low testosterone symptoms, speak to a doctor to learn about male hypogonadism treatment. You deserve a life that feels vital inside and out, and support is available.
What is male hypogonadism?
Testosterone production increases and decreases throughout a man’s life, depending on age.
That said, it’s tough to determine ‘normal testosterone levels’ because they change throughout the day and are also impacted by BMI (body mass index), nutrition, overall health, alcohol consumption, illness, and certain prescriptions.
So what is an ideal range for testosterone levels?
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, a healthy adult male’s testosterone levels should fall between 280 to 1,100 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter). Furthermore, if a grown man’s testosterone levels fall below 300 ng/dL, they should visit their doctor to discuss:
- The cause of low testosterone levels
- Hypogonadism symptoms
- Male hypogonadism treatment
If a man is experiencing uncomfortable low testosterone symptoms and he’s been diagnosed with hypogonadism, he’s on his way to healing. But first, understanding is key.
Hypogonadism in males is a condition in which the gonads (testicles, testes, or reproductive glands) don’t produce enough testosterone (a sex hormone).
What are male hypogonadism symptoms?
Adequate testosterone production in men is crucial for various reasons.
This sex hormone is essential in developing and maintaining red blood cells, sexual features, muscle mass, sexual function, reproductive function, and a sense of well-being. Therefore, if a male has low testosterone levels, the symptoms can directly impact any of these areas of his life.
As a result, hypogonadism symptoms (or low testosterone symptoms) include:
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling irritable or moody
- Diminished sense of well-being
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty with memory
- Diminished muscular strength
The above symptoms of low-testosterone levels tend to be easier to spot. But according to Cleveland Clinic, other hypogonadism symptoms include:
- Mild anemia (a decrease in hemoglobin)
- Osteoporosis (thinning of the bones)
- Decrease in body fat
- Reduced body hair
- Gynecomastia (breast development)
If you’re experiencing anemia due to your hypogonadism symptoms, don’t take it lightly, as low amounts of iron in the body can cause extreme fatigue, confusion, coldness, hunger, and even depression.
It’s incredible to think about how one hormone can influence so many different areas of your sense of well-being and overall health. Therefore, immediately make an appointment with your MD if you recognize any of the above hypogonadism symptoms.
What are male hypogonadism causes?
As a man becomes older, his body’s testosterone slowly drops. This hormonal decline is natural and starts roughly after 30 and continues to drop about 1% per year. Therefore, age plays a significant role in testosterone levels.
Several other potential causes include injury, chemotherapy, metabolic disorder, certain medications, short or long-term medication, alcohol abuse, Klinefelter syndrome, sleep apnea, obesity, or extreme weight loss.
But it gets more complicated as we dive further into causes of male hypogonadism.
There are two types of hypogonadism in males.
As we’ve come to understand, male hypogonadism means the testicles aren’t producing enough testosterone. And there are two primary types of hypogonadism known as primary and secondary.
- Primary: This kind of hypogonadism in males is also known as a testicular failure. This issue originates from a problem in the testicles.
For primary hypogonadism, common causes include:
- Testicle injury
- Too much iron in the blood (hemochromatosis)
- Mumps infection
- Undescended testicles
- Klinefelter syndrome
2. Secondary: This kind of hypogonadism in males indicates a problem in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. The hypothalamus produces a hormone that directs the pituitary gland to make FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). And LH lets a man’s testes know to produce testosterone. So if there’s something off with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus, then the production of testosterone would be disrupted.
For secondary hypogonadism, common causes include:
- Certain inflammatory diseases
- Pituitary disorders
- Kallmann’s syndrome
With secondary hypogonadism, the testicles are normal. However, they don’t operate properly because of a health issue with the hypothalamus or pituitary.
According to Mayo Clinic, either kind of hypogonadism can be caused by:
- Something that happened in life (acquired)
- An inherited trait (congenital)
Furthermore, sometimes both primary and secondary hypogonadism can occur together.
What is male hypogonadism treatment?
Low T levels are treated with testosterone replacement therapy, which can be given in different ways, such as intramuscular injections, patches, gels, and pellets. However, according to Cleveland Clinic, oral testosterone isn’t yet approved in the USA.
Below is a more detailed run-down of possible treatments:
- Intramuscular injections: These injections are administered into the muscle every ten to 14 days.
- Testosterone patches: Used daily, these patches are applied to the body in areas such as the arms, abdomen, back, and buttocks.
- Testosterone gels: These gels are best applied daily on clean, dry skin on the upper back.
- Pellets: Pellets are implanted every two months under the skin.
The benefits of testosterone replacement therapy aren’t guaranteed; however, if they go over well, they can:
- Prevent concerns related to delayed puberty in boys
- Increase bone density
- Improve sense of well-being
- Boost sexual function
- Heighten mental sharpness
- Improve muscle strength
- Boost physical performance
Also, discuss all treatment options with your doctor because testosterone replacement therapy isn’t ideal for everybody.
Testosterone replacement therapy can cause prostate growth. Testosterone could stimulate cancer growth if a male is in the early stages of prostate cancer. Thus, men with prostate cancer shouldn’t use this therapy. Any man considering testosterone replacement therapy must have a prostate screening.
Male Hypogonadism FAQs
Q: What if I’m uncomfortable going to the doctor’s in person to discuss male hypogonadism treatment and symptoms?
A: Do you prefer to meet with a doctor to discuss your health in comfortable and convenient surroundings? Try a healthcare app, such as Ravkoo Health.
Your licensed and vetted Ravkoo physician can discuss your symptoms and concerns with you to offer guidance on the best approach. Also, if your provider offers a prescription, you can order it on Ravkoo RX, and it will be delivered free of charge to your home!
Q: Does testosterone only affect men?
A: Firstly, the hormone testosterone is found in humans and animals. While we generally realize that men’s testicles produce their testosterone, women’s ovaries also produce this hormone in much smaller amounts.
Like hypogonadism in males, low testosterone levels in women also impact them as this hormone is important for their physical and mental well-being. A woman with a low testosterone level may experience reduced libido, mood changes, weight gain, dry skin, or muscle loss.
In short, testosterone is a vital sex hormone that plays a key role in a woman’s well-being. Therefore, it’s helpful to check testosterone levels regardless of gender identity.
Q: How do you test for hypogonadism in males?
A: Low T levels are diagnosed with a blood test that measures the amount of testosterone in one’s blood. It can take several measurements to determine if a person has low testosterone accurately.
It may take more than one test for accuracy because testosterone levels tend to change throughout the day. For instance, the highest T levels are usually around 8 a.m.
To get tested, first speak with your general healthcare provider, who will let you know the next steps. Often, they’ll first give you a lab requisition form and point you in the right direction.
Q: Can hypogonadism be prevented?
A: There aren’t any known ways to prevent low T levels caused by damage to the testes, pituitary gland, or genetic conditions.
However, a healthier lifestyle can help keep testosterone levels stable. For example, exercising regularly, healthy weight management, and avoiding excessive use of drugs and alcohol can all contribute to your overall health while positively impacting testosterone levels.
To sum up:
Hypogonadism affects men in big ways because testosterone plays a significant role in one’s well-being, which goes beyond the scope of sexuality. Low T levels can cause a man to suffer physically and emotionally. Therefore, the sooner this health concern is tested for and recognized, the sooner a person can receive treatment.
Remember, our physical health impacts our emotional health, too. So if you have low T levels and feel down, it’s worth seeking out both physical and emotional support.