Dear Mayo Clinic: I’m a 52-year-old man. I recently had blood work done that showed my testosterone levels are slightly low, falling just below the “normal” range. Should I talk to my doctor about getting treatment even if I don’t have any symptoms?
A: A mildly low level of testosterone alone, without any signs or symptoms, typically does not require treatment. But it would be a good idea for you to talk with your doctor in more detail about this test result. In some cases, low testosterone may be a sign of an underlying medical concern, or it could be a side effect from medication.
Disorders that may lead to low testosterone include hypogonadism, rare conditions of the testicles or the pituitary gland in which the body does not make enough testosterone. Other conditions that can affect testosterone levels are thyroid problems, obstructive sleep apnea, depression and excessive alcohol use.
Follow-up tests and exams usually can show if a medical condition may be contributing to low testosterone. Your doctor also should review any medications you’re currently taking to see if one of them may be the source of the problem. If an underlying medical condition is identified, treatment for that disorder may be all you need to bring your testosterone level back into the normal range.
Testosterone replacement therapy may be recommended to treat hypogonadism. Apart from that, testosterone usually is not recommended for older men who are otherwise healthy, even if their testosterone levels are slightly below what’s considered normal.
Dr. Todd Nippoldt is an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.