Testosterone Deficiency: An Autoimmune Etiology?

The Thyroid Gland

Auto- means self and immune is the system that grants you protection against outside invaders. If the body is in a state of autoimmunity then that means the body’s immune system has gone off the deep end and started attacking the body’s own self by creating antibodies against itself. These antibodies go on a rampage attacking the type of tissue that they are targeted against.

This is what is happening in any autoimmune disease. Typically, the disease is then named based on what tissue in the body is being attacked. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the system is attacked cartilage, the padding in between the joints. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease where the system is attacking the tear glands and the saliva glands. Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease are both autoimmune diseases where the immune system is attacking the intestines. There are even antibodies to blood vessels that can cause problems with blood pressure and increased plaque accumulation.

In actuality, no tissue is safe from autoimmune disease. It is possible to develop antibodies against any part of the body including the testes.

If a younger man is experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone then this should be a red flag to you.

First of all, we all know that men are stubborn about going to the doctor. But, they are even less likely to admit to having problems with their testosterone and manliness. That is why if a man in his twenties or thirties or even younger starts complaining about low testosterone then you should think autoimmune. Especially if the person is not stressed out (Because then they might be turning testosterone to DHEA to cortisol) or if the person is not insulin resistant/overweight (Because then they might be aromatizing testosterone into estrogen).

The scariest part is that if someone has an autoimmunity that means that the immune system as already broken the peace. And the chance of having additional autoimmune diseases skyrockets once one is already there. That’s why part of the treatment process for any autoimmune disease is monitoring for other associated autoimmune diseases.

On the other hand, if someone already has an autoimmune disease or has a prevalence of autoimmunity in the family, and then that person gets low testosterone symptoms, it is possible they just picked up their second autoimmunity.

So what do you do?

Get checked.

There are multiple labs out there that test for a variety of antibodies. Be sure to use a doctor who is aware that testicular antibodies and autoimmunity can happen and knows how to test for it. Then you can go your own route with fixing it. Whether that is using medicines to downregulate the overactive immune system or use functional medicine to try to find and take care of whatever is causing the immune system to be over-excited in the first place.

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