The amount of testosterone produced by adults can drop as they age. When ranges fall out of normal, the effects of low testosterone can affect body functions. Low testosterone (also known as Low T) is often undiagnosed because people fail to recognize the symptoms and blame them on other causes. However, Low T is a very common condition that can be responsible for a variety of conditions from low sex drive to lack of energy to perform routine tasks at work or at home.
You should suspect low testosterone if you notice any of the following:
- Weakened sexual appetite, difficulty getting or keeping erections, fertility problems.
- Physical fitness challenges such as a lack of strength, energy or endurance.
- Lack of ambition or the inability to feel excitement about accomplishments.
- Bone loss, perhaps causing a decrease in height.
- Lost desire for competition, especially in sports.
The effects of low testosterone may start as a simple desire to nap after meals or changes to recreational activities. If untreated, the condition can be responsible for infertility, osteoporosis, poor performance at work, relationship difficulties and the inability to enjoy daily activities. You should discuss any concerns with your healthcare professional, who can order blood tests to measure your hormone levels. People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should be especially alert to these symptoms because they are twice as likely to develop low T.
Causes Of Low Testosterone
It is estimated that 13 million men in America suffer low testosterone, but only about 10 percent receive treatment. (Iliades) The biggest contributor to this number may be the rising age of our population, but the condition can develop anytime in life. Several physiological causes can contribute to low T, starting with the failure of the organs that manufacture the hormone (primary hypergonadism). Other causes of low T involve the hypothalamus or pituitary gland’s failure to stimulate testosterone production (secondary hypogonadism), or causes can stem from lapses in hypothalamus of the brain (tertiary hypogonadism).
Adults aren’t the only ones who can have low testosterone. Developing babies can be affected, evidenced by poor development of the sex organs. When low T occurs before puberty, a child may fail to mature at the same rate as his peers. A boy may look young for his age, retaining a high-pitched voice and failing to develop muscles mass.
The good news is that there are effective treatments for low testosterone. Your primary care physician many prescribe testosterone therapy in the form of gels, creams, implants or patches; or you may be referred to a specialist for additional evaluation. Natural treatments may also be used in the form of supplements, exercise and lifestyle and diet changes.
If you suspect that your testosterone levels may be low, your doctor is likely to order blood tests. But unlike testing for other conditions, he or she will give you specific instructions, which should be followed carefully. Because testosterone levels change throughout the day, your blood test should be performed in the morning when there is a good chance for a true reading. Another issue involves the specific laboratory performing the analysis, because readings can vary from lab to lab. Using the lab that your doctor regularly uses gives the best chance for an accurate reading.
 Iliades, Chris, What Is Low Testosterone? In http://www.everydayhealth.com/mens-health/what-is-low-testosterone.aspx. Accessed Apr 29, 2013.
 Low Testosterone (Low T), http://www.medicinenet.com/low_testosterone/article.htm#what_is_low_testosterone. Accessed Apr 28, 2013.
 Low Testosterone, http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/mens-health/sexual-health/low-testosterone.html. Accessed Apr 28, 2013.