What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is steroid hormone found mainly in mammals. This is commonly found in males where it is secreted by the testes but females also have testosterone which are secreted from the ovaries. In females however, they are more sensitive to hormones like estrogen and progesterone. In males, testosterone is the primary sex hormone and it plays a crucial role in the development of the male reproductive organs as well as the promotion of male sexual characteristics during their puberty.
Normal testosterone levels in men
Testosterone levels ranges between 300-1200 ng/dl but the active testosterone levels of male are at 8.7 to 25 pg/ml
Normal testosterone levels in women
It is at 15-70 ng/dl and its free or active testosterone levels are only at 0.5 to 5 pg/ml.
Since men have higher testosterone levels, and it plays an important function in the development of sexual characteristics, testosterones help in axillary hair growth; growth spurt; hair in the upper lips; formation of beard; adult body odor; leg hair; pubic hair which extends up to the umbilical area; deepening of male’s voice; having adam’s apple; increased muscle mass; improved strength; increased libido or sex drive; broadened shoulder; and others.
Low Testosterone Symptoms
Symptoms in Males
A low in testosterone level in male would interfere with the development of the genitals. They may have poor development in their scrotum and penis. Sometimes, it appears to be female genitalia when inside the fetus. Then during puberty, there are low testosterone level symptoms would include
- poor muscle mass development
- their voices are not deepened
- they have poor hair growth which can cause alopecia
- gynecomastia or enlarged breasts are observed and
- poor development of the penis and the testes.
- Sometimes, they have decreased libido for sex and infertility.
Symptoms in Females
Low testosterone level in women includes
- loss of sexual desire or libido
- sometimes it affects their sleeping pattern.
Low Testosterone Causes & Risk factors
There are various causes of low testosterone levels in both male and females. One of which is the primary hypogonadism. This is means that there is a failure in gonads or sex organs to form. It can be due:
Injury to the scrotum
The scrotum is a sensitive part of the male sex organ and when it is injured, it might not produce enough testosterone needed by men to develop their sexual organs and secondary characteristics.
The testes needs to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum during fetal development and in the first 2 years of child birth.
Ovary problems in women
There is a thing called premature ovarian failure wherein it lowers the level of testosterone levels in women.
The virus causing mumps can inflame not only the jaw area but also the testes in males. Thus children need to be immunized to avoid injury to the testes wherein it can cause infertility if mumps are not treated.
Other Causes of Hypogonadism
There are also secondary causes of hypogonadism wherein the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, the two most powerful glands in the body that controls the secretion of testosterone are affected. This release of hormones in order to arouse the gonads is altered.
Low Testosterone Effects
Low Sex drive
As a result of low testosterone in both male and female, it is evident in their low sex drive during adult stage. This then becomes a problem in procreating since low testosterone levels will also lead to infertility. It is also noticed that they have more fat deposits in their body due to low testosterone levels.
Low Bone Density
Aside from the decreased sexual drive, low testosterone level also affect the bone mass of both male and females. There is a noticeable low bone density which puts them at risk for bone problems like osteoporosis.
To top it all, low testosterone has serious effects on the increased risk for cardiovascular problems. There are clinical studies that showed a healthy testosterone level is essential to maintain a healthy heart. A low testosterone level has serious effects on higher blood pressure, high cholesterol level and even putting themselves at risk for coronary artery problems.
Low Testosterone Diagnosis (Test)
History Taking & Examination
If either male or female are suspected to have low testosterone levels, their physician will acquire a thorough history and perform an assessment.
Blood tests will also be taken to detect the testosterone level of either men or women.
Low Testosterone Treatment
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Among males, if they are detected to have low testosterone levels, they need to have a hormone replacement therapy with testosterone. This is usually given via intramuscular injection and health care providers should do his on a weekly basis. Sometimes, there are patches or gels prepared as a hormone replacement therapy and it is usually applied on the skin. But males should be advised that as a side effect of the therapy are acne and oily skin.
For women on the other hand, there are no FDA approved drugs that addresses women’s low testosterone levels. There are hormone replacements however that has a preparation that combines estrogen and methyltestosterone to address the hormone replacement.