Stress and chronic or acute illnesses can also affect testosterone levels, Levine says, sometimes leading to sudden drops. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, chronic lung disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and kidney disease have the possible side effect of decreased testosterone levels. Testosterone production can decrease as a person ages, and many older people experience symptoms of low testosterone levels. Some evidence suggests that people with low testosterone levels are likely to experience lack of concentration, irritability, and depression.
Most cases of low testosterone levels are treatable, and knowing the symptoms can help a person get an early diagnosis and treatment. If a young man's low testosterone is a problem for a couple trying to get pregnant, gonadotropin injections may be an option in some cases. Substitution therapies that should not be used include over-the-counter testosterone boosters and bioidentical therapies; none of which are regulated, tend to have greater variability in actual testosterone potency, and are rarely effective enough to produce significant results. Healthcare providers treat low testosterone levels (male hypogonadism) with testosterone replacement therapy.
Decreased sexual desire occurs naturally with age, but when the cause is a low level of testosterone, a man will notice a significant decrease in sexual desire. Low testosterone levels can cause a hormonal imbalance that results in shorter or longer menstrual cycles than the average of 28 days. High levels of these hormones would normally tell the testicles to produce more testosterone and sperm. One of them is an oral prescription therapy called clomiphene citrate, which stimulates the body to produce more testosterone on its own.
Low testosterone levels often lead to decreased bone density, meaning bones become more fragile and increasingly likely to break. Low testosterone levels can cause a reduction in this volume, which can make bones more susceptible to fractures. Other causes of low testosterone levels in men under 50 years of age include tumors of the pituitary gland, HIV infection, and radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer. Doctors will want to rule out any possible explanation for the symptoms before blaming them on low testosterone levels.
In people with fertility problems, low testosterone levels may be a symptom of a testicular function problem that causes infertility, rather than a cause of infertility itself. While testosterone levels never reach zero (as do estrogen levels in women during menopause), low testosterone levels in men experience symptoms such as fatigue, low sexual desire, and loss of muscle mass. Testosterone is a sex hormone that regulates sexual development, muscle mass, and red blood cell production.