Low Testosterone: Health Risks Associated with Hypogonadism
Over the past twenty years, we’ve identified many symptoms of low testosterone; health risks associated with hypogonadism (low testosterone is one form of hypogonadism), have been harder to identify.
The problem is a classic problem in the sciences—correlation vs. causation.
Researchers have found a wide variety of diseases and disorders that sometimes occur alongside low testosterone and hypogonadism, but it’s not yet clear what the role of low testosterone is in these cases.
There just aren’t very many studies that demonstrate definitive clinical outcomes tied directly to low testosterone.
However, there are quite a few studies that show a correlation between low testosterone and several negative health outcomes.
Low Testosterone: Health Risks of Hypogonadism May Be Quite Broad
While low testosterone has also been associated with specific health risks, several studies have found an association between low testosterone and overall mortality rates generally.
One longitudinal study found that men with low total testosterone (less than 241 ng/dl) were up to 40% more likely to die than their counterparts. This held true even when other factors were considered.
Another study of veterans found that low testosterone levels were also associated with a higher level of mortality.
A final study of kidney dialysis patients found similar results—mortality due to all causes was higher in men with low testosterone than in men with high testosterone.
What all these studies may indicate is the importance of testosterone to a variety of processes in your body—low testosterone doesn’t simply affect one organ or organ system.
But overall mortality isn’t the only problem—for low testosterone, health risks may be more specifically problematic.
Low Testosterone, Hypogonadism, Cardiovascular Events, Diabetes, Sexual Dysfunction, Depression, and Obesity
While some debunked studies have appeared to falsely claim a relationship between testosterone replacement therapy and cardiovascular events, we now know that low testosterone itself may be a way to predict cardiovascular events, as several studies appear to show. (You can read the studies here, here, and here.)
Bone density may also be affected, but it doesn’t stop there.
Low testosterone, or male hypogonadism, has also been associated with weight gain, and this study found an association between low testosterone levels and obesity.
Starting to see a pattern emerge?
Though perhaps unsurprising for men and women who suffer from the debilitating symptoms of low testosterone, it has even been associated with depression.
What Does It All Mean?
What all this actually means requires more study. Is low testosterone causing these health risks? Are these issues simply made worse by low testosterone? Health risks like these are quite serious, and they can’t be dismissed lightly.
Unfortunately, until more studies are done, the only answer is that we don’t really know.
However, if your testosterone levels are clinically low (and you’re also exhibiting symptoms), you can be treated.
And if your symptoms are relieved and you feel better, that’s all that really matters.
Want to learn more about the symptoms of low testosterone? Take the low testosterone symptoms quiz here.