One of the most important ways by which a person’s fertility may be determined is by measuring an individual’s testosterone level. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males, no doubt. But it plays an important role in the health of both genders. And as is typical of all hormones, testosterone must be in the right amount – not too much, and not too little either.
Low testosterone is one of the major causes of infertility in males. This is very well known. The bad news, however, is that having an excess of this hormone can also be a problem.
High testosterone in women can also cause issues with fertility. And just like men, women may also experience low testosterone levels. The difference is that in women, low T usually shows up during their post-menopausal years. It rarely occurs during their childbearing years.
The question is: “what are those factors that are responsible for low testosterone levels in both males and females?” Also, is there a way this problem could be solved? That’s the aim of this article. Read on to find out the answers to this, and more.
LOW TESTOSTERONE IN MEN
Low testosterone in men is called hypogonadism. If a man has this condition, it means that he is not producing enough testosterone. Male hypogonadism may be congenital or it may develop later in life. By congenital, we mean that he is born with that defect.
The effect of hypogonadism and its treatment depends on the cause and the time of your life in which it occurs. Clinical research shows that male hypogonadism can be resolved with testosterone replacement therapy.
What causes low testosterone in men?
Several factors may contribute to hypogonadism in men. These include:
- Obesity: The impact of obesity on testosterone levels is profound. Studies have shown that an increase in weight lowers testosterone levels drastically. On the other hand, engaging in weight-loss activities can reduce testosterone levels drastically.
- Age: Testosterone levels in men peaks at the age of 30. From then, it begins to decline. Significant declines occur from 50 years of age. It is important to note that while age may cause a decline in fertility in men, it is not as drastic as it is in women.
- Klinefelter syndrome: Usually, the male genetic makeup consists of one X chromosome, and one Y chromosome. Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic anomaly where the Y chromosome is replaced with another X chromosome. So, such men have XX genetic makeup rather than an XY. Klinefelter syndrome contributes to low testosterone in men, and consequently, infertility.
- Smoking: Smoking is another cause of low testosterone and infertility in men. How does this happen? Well, medical research has shown that cigarettes contain toxins like lead and cadmium. When a man smokes, he exposes himself to high levels of these toxins. Research has shown that both heavy metals are major contributors to male infertility. Smoking is also associated with very low zinc levels in men. Low zinc levels is associated with poor semen quality, movement, and concentration.
- Pituitary disorders: The pituitary gland is very important in the brain. A disorder of pituitary function may be a result of a brain tumor or a pituitary tumor. Also, exposure of the brain to high levels of radiation may cause a malfunction of this gland. This can lead to long-term damage and complications of which low T is among.
- Injury to the testicles: Testicular injuries contribute to low testosterone levels. However, if the injury occurs in just one testicle, testosterone production may not be affected.
- Kallmann syndrome: It is a genetic condition characterized by failure of puberty to begin, or inability to go through puberty completely.
- Undescended testicles: As the name implies, the testicles fail to descend completely, or do not descend at all. In many cases, this usually resolves during early childhood. If it doesn’t, then it must be corrected, usually through surgery. Failure to correct this condition can cause low testosterone and other hormonal problems later in life.
- Cancer treatment: Radiation therapy and chemotherapy usually cause low testosterone, and affect spermatogenesis (sperm production). In most cases, this occurs temporarily. In some cases, however, it may be permanent.
- Surgery or underlying health conditions: This resolves after some time. Mumps and other infections can cause extended hormonal problems.
- Stress: High levels of stress is associated with an increase in cortisol levels. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. A high level of cortisol is associated with low testosterone levels.
LOW TESTOSTERONE IN WOMEN
Low testosterone can also occur in women, and when it does, it usually affects the woman’s health. Testosterone performs several functions in a woman’s body. This includes:
- Red blood cells production
- Influences the production and activity of the follicle-stimulating hormone that can affect reproduction.
- Enhancement of libido.
A study by the Australian Department of Health & Human Services has shown that testosterone levels in women is age-dependent. And so, by the time a woman attains the age of 40, her sex hormone levels would have decreased by 50%.
Research is still ongoing on low testosterone in women. A lot is yet to be understood about this condition in the female gender. Nevertheless, new treatments are being developed – treatments that will be very effective in women experiencing this condition.
What causes low testosterone in women?
Unlike men, testosterone in women is produced by several tissues and glands. These are:
- Adrenal glands
- Peripheral tissues
In women, the ovaries play very important roles in the production of testosterone. They are a primary producer of this hormone a decrease in the levels of hormones produced by the ovary is associated with menopause. This implies that low T may occur both in premenopausal women, as well as in postmenopausal women. A decrease in libido in women is usually attributed to a decrease in estrogen level, which usually occurs after menopause. But then, current research has established links between low production of testosterone and low libido.
The thing is, most women will continue to produce testosterone and other hormones irrespective of whether they are in the pre-or postmenopausal years. Medical researchers have therefore hypothesized that women experiencing low testosterone levels may have some genetic alterations or defects that affect the production of DHEA-S and DHEA. Both substances are precursors to testosterone.
Other factors that may cause low testosterone in females include:
- adrenal insufficiency
- early menopause
- oral estrogen therapy
What you should do if you have low testosterone
Common symptoms of low testosterone in men include:
- decreased libido
- decreased muscle mass
- hot flashes
- erectile dysfunction
- reduced strength
In women, the symptoms of low testosterone include:
- low libido
If you experience any of these symptoms, then you should see your urologist (if you’re a male), or your gynecologist (if you are female). They will examine you, conduct the necessary tests, and prescribe the right treatment (if needed).
One of the prescriptions that your doctor may give is testosterone boosters. These are supplements that boost your testosterone production to natural levels.
You can learn more about testosterone boosters here.