If you have had any issues with your male hormone level, you are certainly curious what causes low testosterone levels in men. First, let’s start with the basics.
Testosterone is the main male hormone, the one that controls secondary sex characteristics, ensures a proper libido and sex organs functioning. It is also an anabolic compound, stimulating growth of muscles, bones and overall body mass.
Testosterone levels are not the same throughout your entire life. Maximum values are reached during puberty, while, somewhere between the age of 40 and 55, the level starts dropping (a process called “andropause”).
Hormone levels might also be abnormally low, due to various malformations, testicle damage, illnesses or drugs. When this occurs, not only that your sex life is affected (erectile dysfunction, low libido), but many other problems arise, like a continuous sense of fatigue, depression, moodiness etc.
The process of producing the male hormone is rather complex. Yes, testes are responsible with the actual synthesis, but they do this only if they receive proper hormonal stimulation from the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in your brain.
There are many issues that can occur on this chain of command. So, here are the main causes of low testosterone levels.
It may sound ugly, but it just means that your testes (the primary producing glands) are not active enough. This problem can have several causes:
Inherited testicular issues include testicles which did not properly descend from one’s abdomen before birth, or Klinefelter’s syndrome, meaning that a chromosomal anomaly leads to an improper development of testes.
Hemochromatosis is a genetic affection that simply consists of elevated iron levels in the blood, affecting the functioning of the endocrine system.
Physical lesions – if the testicular tissues are affected by various injuries, they will obviously produce fewer hormones.
Infections – mumps at an adult age is often a cause of low testosterone levels in men.
Tumors and tumor treatment – testicular cancer lowers hormone secretion, but so do surgery, radiation and chemotherapy employed in treating such a condition.
In this case, the hypothalamus or pituitary gland is affected. One of the indirect effects is a decrease in testicular activity. Here are the main possible causes:
- Kallmann syndrome – the hypothalamus is functioning abnormally.
- Brain-affecting infections – include sarcoidosis, tuberculosis or histiocytosis.
- Liver or kidney failure can, indirectly, affect your pituitary gland.
- Especially opioid compounds and steroids have a negative effect on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, if excessively taken.
- Hypertension and other circulation issues have been reported to affect testosterone production mechanisms.
- Psychological issues are also thought to influence the two glands, although no consensus was reached on this issue.
Sometimes, both the main endocrine centers in your brain and your testes are affected. Here is why:
HIV/AIDS often affects all or part of the glands involved. Nutrition issues – Excess body fat affects the way your organism produces and responds to hormones. Starvation also reduces testosterone output.
Blood illnesses, such as thalassemia and sickle-cell anemia, two inherited disorders preventing proper oxygen transport.
Alcohol consumed excessively can significantly lower male hormone synthesis. Medication – especially glucocorticoid therapy. Smoking – among other bad effects, it may also reduce your testosterone levels. Aging – since the main function of testosterone is to control male reproductive processes, millions of years of evolution have given us this nasty mechanism which lowers the output as we get past the reproductive age. Andropause usually occurs somewhere after you reach your 50s, but there are many cases when it starts earlier, around age 40. Obviously, it is the most common cause of low testosterone levels in men.