Testosterone is one of the more well known hormones. The word often gets used in everyday conversations. But what exactly is this hormone, and why do you need to make sure you have the right amount? Testosterone is a sex hormone that influences muscle development, fertility, and red blood cell production. However, as a man ages, testosterone levels decrease way below the normal range, leading to different symptoms that stem from hypogonadism or andropause.
Low testosterone is a prevalent condition. Today, more and more men are experiencing a significant drop in their T level.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a sex hormone found predominantly in males, but also in females to a lesser extent. Hormones are chemical messengers that activate vital processes in the body. Women produce testosterone but in minimal amount.
Testosterone is a form of androgen generated by the Leydig cells found in the testicles. In men, this hormone is believed to influence a number of processes aside from sperm production:
• Bone mass
• Sex drive
• Muscle mass and strength
• Red blood cell production
• Fat distribution
Deficiency of testosterone can cause infertility in men because testosterone promotes the production of mature sperm cells. The level of testosterone is influenced by the pituitary gland and the brain.
What Happens When I Have Too Low Testosterone?
Testosterone deficiency during puberty may affect a boy’s growth. There may be a reduced growth of testes and penis, less pubic hair, as well as a delayed deepening of the voice. During puberty, a boy may have below than normal endurance and strength and the extremities may develop out of proportion to the rest of the body.
In men, testosterone naturally declines with aging. This process is referred to as male menopause or andropause. After age 40, the level of testosterone reduces by approximately 1.6 percent every year. About 4 out of 10 men may have hypogonadism when they reach 45 years old.
Since 2012, the number of men diagnosed with low T increased by 170 percent, probably due to raising awareness and proper testing and diagnosis.
Low testosterone may cause reduced muscle mass, wrinkled skin, and diminished body hair. It can lead to an increase in body fat, changes in mood, low libido, issues in mental clarity and memory, osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction, and sleep problems.
Some men may experience feelings of depression, less energy, and thinner bones.
Though the production of testosterone gradually decreases as a man ages, other factors can lead to a drop in your hormones. Cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy and injury on the testicles can negatively affect testosterone level.
Stress and chronic illnesses can also affect your testosterone level. Examples of diseases are:
• Kidney disease
• Liver cirrhosis
Is There Such Thing as Too Much Testosterone in Men?
Excess in testosterone on the body depends on the sex and age. For adult men, this is unlikely to develop, and it is quite hard to detect if an adult male produces too much testosterone. However, symptoms often include dehydration, edema (bloating), body acne, shrinking testicles (due to estrogen conversion), and gynecomastia (breast tissue development). Young boys who produce excessive testosterone may exhibit signs of early puberty and may even experience a false growth spurt. On the other hand, young girls may have abnormal changes in their genitalia.
In adult female, too much testosterone may be an indicator of a hormonal imbalance called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS may experience hirsutism or development of facial and body hair, increased acne breakouts, a deepening voice, increase in muscle mass, and balding.
The use of anabolic steroids can affect the natural mechanism of the body to produce testosterone. These drugs can inhibit the release of follicle stimulating hormones and luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland, which then affects the level of testosterone as well as the sperm produced in the testes.
In men, long-term use of anabolic steroids can lead to decreased sex drive, infertility, breast development, and testicular shrinkage. There is also a high risk of liver damage from the extended exposure to such drugs. In women, an unpleasant reaction may happen when taking anabolic steroids on a regular basis as high doses of testosterone can lead to virilization or masculinization of women.
Testosterone is often associated with virility in men. However, this hormone affects various processes in the body, not just sex drive. If you are experiencing many unwanted symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, weight gain, reduced muscle mass, and strength and sleep disturbances, you can check your testosterone level through a blood test. Testosterone therapy is widely available for men having abnormal levels of testosterone, so speak to your health care provider today!
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Dr. Jenny P. Wilkins, NMD, CRA
Dr. Jenny is a Naturopathic Doctor and clinical research associate. She is a successful entrepreneur as the CEO/Proprietor of AgeVital Pharmacies in Sarasota, Florida. She is a charismatic media personality and television producer with regular appearances on ABC, NBC, TBN, CBS, the CW and Lifetime. As a health and wellness expert and educator, Dr. Jenny lectures all around the world at various conferences about the endocannabinoid system and functional integrative healthcare and how natural solutions work to treat a multitude of diseases and illnesses. She authors books for healthcare practitioners and consumers and educates the healthcare community and individuals using her extensive research and findings about the endocannabinoid system.
She is the President and Chairman of The American Academy of the Endocannabinoid System (AAECS) and sits on the Executive Board of Directors for the American Board of Medical Marijuana Physicians (ABMMP). Her expansive credentials include a Board Certification at The American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners – (ABAAHP), a Diplomate of the AAIM College of Nutrition and a Board Certification with the (AAIM) Board of Integrative Medicine. Dr. Jenny is also a member of the American Academy Of Anti-Aging Medicine, serves as a senior business and financial advisor for Nuvusio, Conference Advisory Board Medical Chair of the Florida Medical Cannabis Conference & Exhibition (FMCCE) and the medical director for Biom-Pharmaceuticals and Chief Scientific Officer And Medical Director for M3-Biodynamics and M3-Innovations.