Low T in Young Males — What’s the Underlying Cause?
Low testosterone is a condition usually experienced by middle-aged or older men. While Low T in young males isn’t unheard of, developing chronic low testosterone levels at a young age is unusual, so the root causes need to be examined.
Low T in young males can indicate some serious concerns.
The Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Here are some of the more common symptoms of low testosterone:
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Low Libido
- Weight Problems
- Trouble Concentrating
- Depressed Mood
- Loss of Endurance
- Muscle Weakness & Muscle Loss
As you can see, it would be unusual for a healthy young man to experience these kind of symptoms.
There are 3 major categories of causes for hypogonadism (the medical term for low T) in young males:
- Lifestyle choices (including substance use or abuse)
- Physical damage to the testicles
The likelihood for low testosterone increases with age. What’s important to note is that there is something more going on — there’s an irregularity causing Low T in young adults.
Low T in Young Males — Substance Use and Lifestyle Choices
This category of potential causes for low testosterone needs to be investigated and ruled out right away. Use of some medications or excessive alcohol consumption can have damaging and life-threatening consequences beyond lowering testosterone levels.
Opioid medications are often utilized following serious injury or surgical procedures. Long-term use can lead to a condition called Opioid-Induced Androgen Deficiency (OPIAD), which is essentially low testosterone due to the prolonged use of opioid medications.
A study in the academic journal, Pain Physician, reached the following conclusions regarding OPIAD:
“While the literature regarding OPIAD remains limited, it is apparent that OPIAD is becoming increasingly prevalent among chronic opioid consumers but often goes unrecognized. OPIAD can have a significant negative impact on the the quality of life of opioid users, and clinicians should anticipate the potential for its occurrence whenever long-term opioid prescribing is undertaken. Once diagnosed, treatment for OPIAD may be offered utilizing a number of androgen replacement therapy options, including a variety of testosterone preparations…”
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
For men, it’s well documented that ethanol alcohol in large amounts:
- Negatively impacts testicular function
- Reduces testosterone
- Lowers sperm count
- Reduces fertility
- May damage the testes themselves
- May increase estradiol levels
Again, that’s usually only true for excessive alcohol consumption.
Alcoholic men often suffer infertility and abnormally low testosterone — a low testosterone count in younger men could signal a serious lifestyle problem with many other health consequences.
However, harmful choices aren’t the only cause of Low T in young males.
Low T in Young Males — Serious Illness and Medical Conditions
There are also some severe medical conditions that can result in low testosterone at a young age, such as the following:
- Type II diabetes
- Hypothalamic/Pituitary disease
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Kallmann syndrome
- Down syndrome
- Sickle cell disease
These illnesses are quite serious and will require medical treatment — restoring testosterone levels will not solve these issues.
However, diagnosing low testosterone might lead to a discovery of one of these underlying illnesses.
Low T in Young Males — Testicular Trauma
Testicular trauma, which is associated with primary testicular failure, often refers to an injury to the testicles that prevents the production of enough testosterone to maintain hormonal balance.
Testicular trauma can also be the result of damage caused by trauma, tumors, inflammation, or the side-effects of cancer treatment (radiation or chemotherapy).
In simple terms, we’re referring to some type of testicular damage.
Low T in Young Males Can Indicate a Serious Problem
The point we’d like to make clear is that low testosterone is particularly abnormal in young men.
As you have read above, it’s usually caused by something much more serious — testicular trauma or damage, serious illness, or the side effects of harmful substances.
Developing the symptoms of low testosterone at 20 to 30 years old could indicate a serious problem. If you feel that you’re suffering from the above symptoms, a simple blood test may help you discover the root cause of the problem.
The relationship between alcohol and testosterone is of interest to many people who are concerned about Low T. In young males experiencing low testosterone, it’s more common than you might expect.
Read more about how beer can negatively affect testosterone levels.