How Your Medical Conditions Can Make It More Likely for You to Develop Low Testosterone

Hypogonadism or testosterone deficiency can impact men of all ages but is particularly prevalent among elderly men. Besides frustrating testosterone deficiency symptoms, hypogonadism has an array of comorbidities that frequently go hand-in-hand with low T.

If you’ve been diagnosed with low testosterone, you’re more likely to develop certain medical issues. Vice versa, if you have certain prior conditions, you’re more likely to develop testosterone deficiency — a state where your body produces inadequate levels of testosterone.

Familiarizing yourself with the comorbidities associated with low testosterone can offer pointers for when you may want to start monitoring your testosterone levels. If you’re young but have been diagnosed with obesity and diabetes, both of which have been linked to low T, it may be a good idea to have your doctor check your levels periodically.

But first things first. What are common testosterone deficiency symptoms and what are the conditions that have been linked to low T?

Testosterone Deficiency Symptoms

Hypogonadism is a diverse condition with some men remaining asymptomatic despite low serum testosterone levels. Others may experience pesky testosterone deficiency symptoms above the 300 ng/dL cutoff identified by the American Urology Association for testosterone deficiency. 

The threshold provided by the American Urology Association is a mere guideline that fits most individuals, albeit everybody is a little different. Men come in many different shapes and sizes, with varying backgrounds and preexisting conditions, which means that one size does NOT fit all.

Testosterone deficiency symptoms vary but commonly include fatigue, low energy levels, erectile dysfunction, and low libido. Some men also notice changes in hair growth and loss of muscle mass. Other symptoms include moodiness, irritability, and weight gain — usually leading to overweight or obesity.

Comorbidities: Conditions Linked to Low Testosterone

Low testosterone has been associated with an array of medical conditions. Sometimes your prior medical history can trigger the development of testosterone deficiency, and sometimes your insufficient testosterone levels themselves can begin impacting other parts of your body. How so? Let’s find out.

(1) Obesity and Diabetes

Obesity and low testosterone can be described as a two-way street. One, low T is frequently diagnosed in men with obesity, suggesting that excessive weight can trigger low testosterone levels. Two, having low T levels can cause individuals to develop more fat, experience metabolic complications, and ultimately become obese.

Similarly, when you have obesity, you’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes — which has reached epidemic levels in the U.S. in recent years. But type 2 diabetes has also been directly linked to low testosterone, with the American Diabetes Association stating that men with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to be diagnosed with testosterone deficiency as well.

Want to read more about how obesity and diabetes influence your testosterone production? Read our article on the topic here.

(2) Heart Disease and Testosterone

How could heart disease and testosterone possibly be linked? Researchers theorized that since men produce much more testosterone than women do and begin to develop heart-related issues about a decade before their female counterparts, this must — at least on some level, be associated with the dwindling levels of testosterone that are common in elderly men. 

Thus, scientists always expected there to be some sort of link between heart disease and testosterone.

Today, low testosterone levels are considered to be a risk factor for coronary artery disease, in short CAD. Men with congestive heart failure (CHF) and low T are given a poor prognosis and are expected to have higher mortality rates. 

In addition, a lot of the research conducted on heart disease and testosterone found that higher testosterone levels were beneficial in helping to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, suggesting that low T levels can have adverse effects on your heart health.

(3) Kidney Disease and Low Testosterone

Your hormones are far-reaching, going as far as suggesting a potential link between kidney disease and low testosterone. Research indicates that men with kidney failure tend to display changes in pituitary and gonadal processes, which can then disrupt the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.

Kidney failure, which is also known as renal failure, is associated with a reduction in luteinizing hormone or LH. This reduction can then further lead to the development of testosterone deficiency, thus linking kidney disease and testosterone.

Luteinizing hormone is an essential player in reproductive processes that relies on the pituitary gland for production. Among the functions of LH is the stimulation of your testes to synthesize testosterone.

But when renal failure leads to a lowered output of LH, consequentially your testes will produce less testosterone, potentially contributing to you developing testosterone deficiency as a result.

(4) Can Liver Disease Cause Low Testosterone?

Liver diseases include alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, including cirrhosis and fibrosis, as well as issues such as hepatitis and liver failure. The National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates that approximately 1 in every 400 individuals in the U.S. alone has cirrhosis; with numbers potentially higher due to countless undiagnosed cases.

Common comorbidities comprise type 2 diabetes and obesity, which also mark possible precursors for testosterone deficiency. So can liver disease cause low testosterone too?

Research indicates that the production of serum testosterone is adversely affected in about 90% of men who also suffer from liver cirrhosis. The progression of liver disease tends to further exacerbate testosterone levels, meaning the more advanced your cirrhosis, the more your testosterone levels are expected to drop.

In addition, some symptoms and comorbidities common for low testosterone patients can also be observed in patients with liver disease — including osteoporosis and low libido.

A scientific review that investigated numerous interventional and observational studies found that low serum testosterone levels can even lead to increased morbidity and mortality in patients suffering from liver cirrhosis.

Can liver disease cause low testosterone then? The truth is that the two conditions exhibit a complex relationship that requires more targeted research, however, it is clear that liver disease and low testosterone are deeply intertwined.

Routine Visits & Check-Ups Are Important

A critical factor that can improve the outcome of many of these conditions is your lifestyle, including your diet and the consumption of alcohol. If you notice any testosterone deficiency symptoms, check with your doctor about possible preexisting conditions that could potentially increase your risk of developing low testosterone.

Remember that routine visits to your doctor can help detect illnesses early, offer clarity, and allow your doctor to monitor your testosterone levels.

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