Low testosterone – symptom, causes and associated risk factors

Low testosterone

When people are thinking of declining levels of testosterone, then they might think of middle – aged or older men. But it is known fact that men who are under 30 can experience low testosterone or “low T”. There are some studies in which are said that testosterone levels tend to peak in men during adolescence and early adulthood. These levels typically decline by about 1% each year and it is starting around age 30 [1]. But there are some cases when men can experience declining testosterone levels at a younger age. Low testosterone is a condition in which the body does not produce enough of the hormone testosterone. It is known that both males and females are producing testosterone but it is called “male hormone” because men produce a lot more of it. This hormone is critical for many male characteristics in which are included hair growth, voice deepening, muscle mass development, sperm development and maturation of male sex organs.

The low testosterone can cause many different symptoms such as balding, fat gain, muscle mass loss, infertility and erectile dysfunction. If you think that you have low testosterone levels, then you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible. After age of 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in their testosterone levels. [2] When there is a decrease of sex drive, there are some cases when it accompanies the drop in testosterone which is leading many men to think that their loss if interest in sex is caused by getting older. It is known fact that the bottom of a man’s normal total testosterone range is about 300 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter) and the upper limit of testosterone levels is about 800 ng/dL (nanograms per deciliter) and this depends on the lab [3]. There are many conditions which can lead to lower than normal score on a blood test such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic liver or kidney disease, HIV/AIDS, infection, hormonal disorders, testicular cancer or treatment for testicular cancer and injury to the testicles. There are some cases when low testosterone is caused by an underlying medical condition which requires treatment. In other cases it is caused by unhealthy lifestyle habits which you can change. Your doctor will find the cause of your symptoms and it can help you to manage them.


Low testosterone symptoms

There are some advertisements for the testosterone replacement products which can lead you to believe that simply feeling cranky or tired is a sign of low testosterone but there are many symptoms not just this. But regardless of the age the symptoms of this condition include:

  • Depression
  • Brain fog
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Enlarged breasts
  • Increased body fat
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Rapid hair loss
  • Infertility
  • Decreased libido or sexual activity
  • Other changes in your erections, such as fewer spontaneous erections
  • Erectile dysfunction, or problems developing or maintaining an erection

Many of the mentioned symptoms also can be caused by lifestyle factors or other medical conditions. If you experience some of the above mentioned symptoms of low testosterone, then you need to talk with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will find the cause for your condition and he or she will give you the right treatment.

Low testosterone

Low testosterone causes

Low testosterone is less common among men under 30 but it can still happen. Here are some factors which could lead to it:

  • Taking certain prescription medications such as steroids and opiates, especially in excess [4]
  • Using anabolic steroids
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol [5]
  • Being overweight or obese [6]
  • High blood pressure [7]
  • High cholesterol levels

Also there are some cases of low testosterone which can be linked to other medical conditions such as

  • Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy [8]
  • Diabetes, liver disease or AIDS [9]
  • Inherited diseases such as Down syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Prader – Willi syndrome and Kallman’s syndrome
  • Alsop there are some cases when injuries, tumors or other conditions affecting your testicles including inflammation related to childhood mumps
  • Hypothalamic or pituitary disease or tumors [10]


[1] Barag SH, Meshefedjian T, Yim J, Wilson A. Current hypogonadism treatment options. Osteopathic Family Physician. 2019;11(2):14-19.

[2] Yeap BB. Are declining testosterone levels a major risk factor for ill-health in aging men? International Journal of Impotence Research. 2009;21:24-36.

[3] Corporate Secretaries International Association. Men’s normal testosterone range, nugenix commercial sexist (Forum). 2020. Retrieved from csiaorg.com/community/profile/testboost13099021/

[4] Rasmussen JJ, Selmer C, Østergren PB, et al. Former abusers of anabolic androgenic steroids exhibit decreased testosterone levels and hypogonadal symptoms years after cessation: A case-control study. PLoS One. 2016;11(8):e0161208.

[5] Emanuele MA, Emanuele N. Alcohol and the male reproductive system. Retrieved from pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-4/282-287.htm

[6] Fui MNT, Dupuis P, Grossmann M. Lowered testosterone in male obesity: mechanisms, morbidity and management. Asian Journal of Andrology. 2014;16(2):223–31.

[7] Huisman HW, Schutte AE, Van Rooyen JM, et al. The influence of testosterone on blood pressure and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in a black South African population. Ethnicity & Disease. 2006;16(3):693-8.

[8] American Cancer Society. Testosterone deficiency affects male cancer survivors’ quality of life. Science Daily. 2010. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222081917.htm

[9] Saad F. The role of testosterone in type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome in men. Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia & Metabologia. 2009;53(8).

[10] Michaud JE, Billups KL, Partin AW. Testosterone and prostate cancer: an evidence-based review of pathogenesis and oncologic risk. Therapeutic Advances in Urology. 2015;7(6):378–87.


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