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Testosterone is a hormone produced by the testicles and is responsible for the proper development of male sexual characteristics.  Testosterone is also important for maintaining muscle bulk, adequate levels of red blood cells, bone growth, a sense of well-being and sexual function.

What Causes Low Testosterone?

As a man ages, the amount of testosterone in his body naturally declines.  This decline starts after the age 30 and continues throughout life.  Some causes of low testosterone levels are due to:

  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer
  • Genetic abnormalities such as Klinefelter's Syndrome (extra X chromosome)
  • Hemochromatosis (too much iron in the body)
  • Dysfunction of the pituitary gland (a gland in the brain that produces many important hormones) or hypothalamus
  • Inflammatory diseases such as sarcoidosis (a condition that causes inflammation of the lungs)
  • Medications, especially hormones used to treat prostate cancer and corticosteroid drugs
  • Chronic illness
  • Chronic kidney failure
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Stress
  • Alcoholism
  • Obesity (especially abdominal)

  • What are Symptoms of Low Testosterone?

    Without adequate testosterone, a man may lose his sex drive, experience erectile dysfunction (ED), feel depressed, have a decreased sense of well-being and have difficulty concentrating.

    Low Testosterone can cause the following physical changes:

  • The decrease in muscle mass, with an increase in body fat
  • Changes in cholesterol levels
  • The decrease in hemoglobin and possibly mild anemia
  • Fragile bones (osteoporosis)
  • The decrease in body hair
  • Changes in lipid levels

  • What is Testosterone and Why Does it Decline?

    Testosterone is a hormone.  It's what puts hair on a man's chest.  It's the force behind his sex drive.  During puberty, testosterone helps build a man's muscles, deepens his voice, and boosts the size of his penis and testes.  In adulthood, it keeps a man's muscles and bones strong and maintains his interest in sex.  In short, it's what makes a man a man (at least physically).

    After age 30 most men begin to experience a gradual decline in testosterone.  A decrease in sex drive sometimes accompanies the drop in testosterone, leading many men to mistakenly believe that their loss of interest in sex is simply due to getting older.

    When most people hear the word testosterone, they think aggressive behavior.  There is a link between the two - at least in competitive situations, such as with a peer or for a sexual partner.  However, there appears to be a subtler interplay between testosterone and behavior in other types of situations - in both men and women.