Testosterone is a sex hormone that’s present in men and women. However, if you’re a man, you have much higher concentrations of this hormone. In fact, in the male body, it’s considered the main sex hormone. Yet, it’s something that plays a role in much more than just your ability to have sex. There are some conditions that can negatively affect testosterone production, which can lead to testicular hypofunction. We’ll consider what low testosterone means, how it affects you, and what your treatment options are in this post.
What is testicular hypofunction?
To truly understand what testicular hypofunction is, we first need to take a closer look at testosterone. This is the hormone that’s affected by the condition – and when testosterone levels decline, there are several problems that you may start to notice.
So, let’s take a closer look at a couple of things that testosterone does in your body:
- It helps to regulate your libido, which is also known as your sex drive.
- The hormone plays an important role in regulating bone mass.
- Fat distribution is also affected by the concentration of testosterone that’s present in your body.
- Sufficient levels of testosterone help to ensure you can maintain strong muscles. It also plays a role in the development of muscle mass.
- The hormone is involved in helping your body produce sperm, which is an essential part of the reproductive system.
- Apart from these factors, it’s also involved in red blood cell production.
As you can see, this hormone is a critical part of male well-being. That’s why it’s important to maintain healthy levels of testosterone, especially as you age.
Now, testosterone is produced by your testis, or testicles. Testicular hypofunction basically means your testicles are not functioning at their optimal level. When this happens, your testis may not make enough of the testosterone hormone to effectively support its functions throughout your entire body.
Why do men develop testicular hypofunction?
Something important that you have to understand is that testosterone levels actually have a natural decline. Once you reach the age of 30, testosterone levels naturally decline by around 1% every year. It’s a very small reduction in testosterone, so normally, you shouldn’t really be able to recognize it.
While there are certain symptoms that happen when you’ve got low testosterone, when it declines by merely 1% annually, then it’s not really going to make you experience these side effects. However, there are times when your testosterone levels fall faster – and that can be due to testicular hypofunction.
Now, it’s important to understand that there are many reasons why you may have testosterone levels that decline faster than what’s considered “normal”. That’s why it’s important to consult with your doctor if you have any of the common symptoms linked to this problem. Of course, sometimes it’s going to be linked to testicular hypofunction, where your testis don’t make enough hormones, but there are often times when it’s an underlying factor that’s behind it.
What is the role of testosterone in male reproduction?
As we’ve discussed, there are many roles that testosterone takes up in the male body. One of these roles lies in your reproductive system. So, to better understand why the hormone is important for reproduction, we have to take a closer look at two important factors:
- Libido: While your sex drive isn’t directly linked to fertility, it’s important to understand that it plays a role in how likely you are to be “in the mood”. Libido can have a significant impact on your erectile function. Testerone helps to stimulate your sex drive and make you feel like you want to have sex – and that’s going to contribute to better erections, which essentially affects your chances of conceiving successfully. In this sense, testosterone plays a role in helping you to conceive “naturally”.
- Sperm Production: Another important reason why testosterone plays a role in male reproduction is due to the hormone’s involvement in the production of sperm. Now, sperm is one of the key elements in conception – so if you have a low sperm count or poor quality sperm, then it’s going to have a negative impact on your fertility. Thus, by improving sperm production and overall quality, testosterone helps to keep you fertile and reduces the risk of having trouble conceiving.
Apart from these, it’s also important to understand that testosterone essentially contributes to factors like endurance, stamina, and strength. Once again, they’re not factors that directly affect male reproduction but can still be helpful during sexual intercourse – which is necessary if you prefer to conceive naturally.
Testicular hypofunction causes and risk factors
Knowing what causes testicular hypofunction can help you better understand your risks. It’s also a good way to determine if specific symptoms you experience could potentially be related to this issue.
We’ve already covered the fact that there’s a natural decline in testosterone after you reach 30. However, you should also know about underlying health conditions and problems that can cause a more significant drop in testosterone – even among some of the younger people.
First of all, let’s consider the primary causes of testicular hypofunction, specifically:
- In teenagers, it can be related to testicles that don’t properly descend.
- If you have testicular cancer, then both the disease itself and the treatments used to kill the cancerous cells can result in testicular hypofunction.
- When undergoing treatment for other cancers, apart from testicular cancer, the use of radiation therapy and chemotherapy can sometimes also affect the functionality of your testicles.
There are also certain things related to your lifestyle that can actually raise your risk of having low testosterone levels. These might not necessarily cause a reduced function of your testicles, but they can still affect how much testosterone you have in your blood.
Being overweight is a really important risk factor that you have to take into consideration. If you’re overweight, then it puts you at risk of many complications. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer are only some of the complications that are associated with obesity and being overweight. A sedentary lifestyle is another thing to consider, as well as certain habits like smoking, excessive alcohol usage, and drug abuse.
Genetics and testicular hypofunction
While we talked about some conditions that can actually cause testicular hypofunction, there is another category that we also have to consider, – this includes genetic conditions. There are actually two specific genetic diseases that scientists and researchers have linked to testicular hypofunction and low testosterone levels in men.
- Klinefelter syndrome: This is a genetic condition that’s not really considered inherited. Instead, it happens when there’s an error with your genetic code after conception. Now, what happens with Klinefelter syndrome is you have more X chromosome copies than what’s considered normal. This can lead to several problems, like low muscle mass, low testosterone, and other complications. These are symptoms that happen when boys are born with the syndrome.
- Kallmann syndrome: Another genetic condition that can cause testicular hypofunction is Kallman syndrome. This syndrome is often linked with delays in reaching puberty. In fact, there are even cases where Kallmann syndrome prevents a boy from entering puberty, which can affect factors like the descendence of their testicles. Kallmann syndrome is associated with poor development of certain nerves and neurons that play a role in sending signals to the brain.
The good news is that both of these genetic conditions are considered to be rare. However, it’s still important to understand the risk and know the possibility of these syndromes causing problems with testosterone production. In most cases, symptoms linked to these conditions will be noted at an early age, usually when a boy enters the time when he should reach puberty.
What are the symptoms of testicular hypofunction?
Whether you’re going to have any early symptoms with low testosterone depends on the severity. That’s because sometimes it’s a problem that develops gradually over many years. By the time you actually notice symptoms that signal hypogonadism, or testicular hypofunction, you might already have a clinically low level of testosterone circulating in your body.
This is also why men should make sure they know what the symptoms are – and then be sure to identify them as early as possible. Even if symptoms seem very mild at first, when you notice them, make sure you keep an eye on whether they improve or worsen. If you have symptoms that continue to get worse over time, you should make sure you get a checkup at your doctor.
Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore:
- Low libido, which means you don’t really feel in the mood to have sex. It’s normal to have a low sex drive now and then, but if it’s persistent, it could be a sign of low testosterone levels.
- If you have erectile dysfunction, it could be another symptom. This refers to a case where you’re unable to get or maintain an erection that allows for pleasurable sexual intercourse. As with a low sex drive, it can happen after a stressful day, but keep an eye on your erectile function if it happens more regularly.
- Your energy levels will start to decline. You may also begin to notice fatigue during the day, even if you got enough sleep the previous night.
- Your bone density levels start to decline, along with muscle mass. You may also notice that your muscles are becoming weaker than they normally are.
- Changes in your mood and mental state are also common with low testosterone. A large number of men with testicular hypofunction develop symptoms of depression.
- If you try to conceive, you will likely have a difficult time due to the negative impact that testicular hypofunction has on your fertility.
Treatment options for testicular hypofunction
Before you can be treated for testicular hypofunction, you first need to verify that there is a problem causing your symptoms. That’s where your doctor comes into the picture. You’ll need to make an appointment with your doctor and explain to them the symptoms that you feel concerned about. You can also note to your doctor that you’re concerned about things like low testosterone and testicular hypofunction.
Now, one thing to keep in mind is that having a low sex drive and experiencing problems in the bedroom doesn’t guarantee you’ve got low testosterone. There are many reasons for these problems, which is why your doctor will usually rule out various possible causes. One of these causes is low testosterone.
There are specific tests that your doctor can request to determine the amount of circulating testosterone you have in your body.
However, before your doctor orders these tests, they’ll likely do a physical examination first. Be sure to tell your doctor about all of the symptoms you’re experiencing.
There are usually three things that your doctor will focus on when they order a blood test. These include your total testosterone level, your luteinizing hormone level, and your prolactin concentration. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these means and how it relates to your testosterone production:
- Total testosterone: When your doctor orders a total testosterone blood test, it provides a good overview of how much testosterone there is in your blood at a specific time. In most cases, you’ll need to get your blood sample collected early in the morning, usually before 10 a.m. This is because your testosterone levels tend to be at their highest in the morning.
- Luteinizing hormone: This is another test that your doctor may order. It basically tells them how much luteinizing hormone you have in your blood. This test helps your doctor rule out your pituitary gland as the potential issue that’s causing testicular hypofunction.
- Prolactin: Another test that may sometimes be ordered, which a doctor can use if they have any suspicion of tumors. Additionally, the prolactin blood test is also sometimes used when doctors want to determine if the problem lies with your pituitary gland.
Once diagnosed, you’ll work closely with your doctor on a treatment plan. This largely depends on factors like why you have testicular hypofunction as well as how severe the problem is. If you’ve got clinically low testosterone levels, your doctor may recommend the use of hormone therapy. This is also called testosterone therapy. The treatment works by introducing synthetic testosterone hormones into your body, which work similarly to the sex hormones you have in your body.
Intramuscular injections, skin gels, and patches can be used as a way to deliver a supply of synthetic testosterone to your body. There are also pellets that a doctor implants directly underneath the skin, which only need to be replaced about two to four times a year.
Of course, there are side effects linked to testosterone therapy, so make sure you discuss this with your doctor. They can provide you with a thorough overview of what you should expect from the treatment. This also helps you understand what to expect and determine if it is the right treatment option for you.
If your concerns are not as much related to testosterone as they are regarding your abilities in the bedroom, you could consider giving certain supplements a try. Read a Virectin review, for example, and you’ll quickly see how many men were able to use a natural supplement to boost their vigor, libido, and overall sexual function.
Frequently asked questions
Is testicular hypofunction a chronic condition?
Yes, but it also depends. If there’s a condition that’s treatable behind your testicular hypofunction, then it shouldn’t be chronic. On the other hand, if this is not the case, then it’s likely a chronic condition.
How do you fix testicular hypofunction?
It all starts with knowing why you’ve developed testicular hypofunction. Sometimes, hormone therapy can be a good fit, but there are side effects to consider. Addressing the underlying cause can also be an excellent strategy.
Is testicular hypofunction curable?
This entirely depends on why you’ve got low testosterone levels. Sometimes, it’s linked to a curable health problem, but this isn’t always the case. Your doctor can run a few tests to know if it’s a curable problem.
Is testicular hypofunction the same as low testosterone?
Technically, they are. You see, when you’ve got testicular hypofunction, it means your testis don’t make enough testosterone hormones. That’s basically the same as having low testosterone. However, it’s still important to understand that the reason behind this reduction in hormones plays a critical role.
If your testosterone levels are low, as a man, you can start to experience a number of symptoms. They come on gradually, but if you don’t recognize them, it can become a problem. Apart from a natural decline in testosterone as you age, there are factors that can make levels of this hormone fall even faster. Consider the factors we discussed in this post to understand your risk of testicular hypofunction and know what you can do.