What Is Low T (And What Causes It)
In recent years, an increasing percentage of male patients are being diagnosed with hypogonadism or Low-T (Low Testosterone). While Testosterone levels naturally drop with age, this drop can be accelerated and potentially require medical attention if accompanied by symptoms. Therapy is not always a consideration for every patient and it’s crucial that patients be properly evaluated by a Doctor prior to starting any testosterone replacement therapy protocol. Patients considering having children should also be aware that treatment can result in an adverse reaction of creating low sperm count. As a result, it’s important for patients to determine if they actually have low-t, what potential treatment protocols are available, and the respective risks associated with them.
What is Low T?
It is difficult to completely define “low-t,” since only a small percentage of men experience this syndrome. Currently, some sources claim that 4% of men are affected with Low-T, although this figure varies slightly depending on the source and research conducted. The symptoms of Low-T vary from patient to patient but include: Hypogonadism Pelvic muscle weakness Muscle atrophy (weakness or atrophy of the muscular tissue) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Infertility What Causes Low T? Low Testosterone is often attributed to too much estrogen in the body. That said, it’s possible that the testosterone pathway itself may be somehow compromised. In most cases, it has been found that estrogen levels in the body play a role in driving testosterone production.
What Causes Low T?
Most patients have several likely causes for low testosterone but the most common include certain medical conditions such as: Mental illness Chronic anxiety and/or depression Diabetes or pre-diabetes Hypothyroidism Lack of Vitamin D, which is linked to reduced testosterone levels Cardiovascular disease Diseases that affect the adrenal glands Other causes include: Heavy lifting/strength training Exercise intolerance or decreased physical activity Cortisol suppression, which can occur with illness, stress, cold, and arthritis Muscle imbalances, such as a build-up of muscle glycogen leading to decreased testosterone Urine sedimentation that is impacted by eating oily fish (a type of omega 3 fatty acid).
Who is at risk for Low T?
It’s difficult to pinpoint what causes Low T and what percentage of the population suffers from it. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 out of every 1,000 men in the United States is diagnosed with hypogonadism or Low-T. A genetic predisposition to a higher risk for Low-T is determined primarily by having a parent who is afflicted by Low-T or hypogonadism. Most common culprits for Low-T include: Inherited mutations in the androgen receptor gene that impacts how the gene functions. Low natural testosterone levels caused by damage to the testicles due to physical inactivity, injury, smoking, alcohol, and other physical activities. Lower red blood cell count due to weak, often deficient, muscle mass.
Low T Treatment Options
Current Guidelines for the Treatment of Low Testosterone in Men Low-T therapy includes different forms of prescription treatment and non-prescription, over-the-counter supplements that target different hormone pathways, which may be adjusted by the physician. A positive testosterone test may not always be indicative of low-t as it may simply indicate the presence of a natural hormone deficiency. Testosterone replacement therapy has also become more prominent in the treatment of low-t, with many patients choosing to use testosterone injections. In this protocol, patients undergo regular blood testing which will determine the amount of testosterone being produced. In addition, patients are told to take a supplement of testosterone throughout the day to increase its production.
Low T Treatment Risks
Testosterone plays a critical role in male reproductive health. Patients whose testosterone levels have been restored through Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can expect to have normal testosterone levels for the rest of their lives. However, if you were taking high doses of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (e.g. 6,000 mg of Testosterone a day) for an extended period of time (years or even decades), you could still suffer the risk of developing hypogonadism over time (low testosterone).
Here at HRT Doctors Group, we encourage you to discuss your particular health issues and medical history with your own physicians prior to beginning any prescribed therapy. We want you to have a strong foundation and to benefit from a patient-doctor relationship. We believe that a patient-doctor relationship should be developed.