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Testosterone is a hormone produced by reproductive organs in both men (testicles) and women (ovaries), with small amounts also being produced by the adrenal glands. Men produce much higher rates of testosterone than women, and the hormone is required for male reproductive development. Testosterone is also responsible for a number of secondary “masculine” characteristics, such as a deep voice, larger muscles, facial hair, etc.
Causes of Low Testosterone
Low testosterone levels in men, also known as hypogonadism or Low T, is an endocrine disorder that typically results in a severe testosterone deficiency. Stated simply, the testicles may not produce adequate amounts of testosterone due to injury, genetic problems, chemotherapy or other conditions or environmental factors. Problems with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which control testosterone production, may also cause low testosterone.
Another cause of low testosterone is Klinefelter syndrome. This chromosomal condition can stunt the growth of male sexual organs before birth as well as during puberty. The syndrome affects approximately 1 in 500 to 1 in 1,000 males born each year. Men with Klinefelter syndrome may be more at risk for other diseases and disorders as well, including breast cancer or systemic lupus erythematosus (an inflammatory condition). 1
Testosterone production in men generally declines with age by about 1% per year, often beginning between 40 and 50 years old. However, medically-diagnosed low testosterone can affect men of any age.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Low testosterone can affect men in any of the following ways:
- Lower sex drive (low libido)
- Decreased sense of vitality, tiredness, less energy
- Muscle weakness, reduced muscle mass
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Weight gain, particularly around the waist
- Reduced bone density (osteoporosis)