Testosterone Hormone – Definition, Diagnosis, Causes Of Low Testosterone And Ways To Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
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Testosterone, an essential hormone, has significant functions within the body. It is a sex hormone with various roles in men and women. In men, it regulates important aspects like sex drive, bone density, fat distribution, muscle mass, strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm.
It’s worth noting that a small portion of testosterone is converted into estradiol, a type of estrogen. The testicles or ovaries primarily produce it.
People assigned male at birth typically have higher testosterone levels than female ones. Having excessively high or low levels of testosterone can result in specific symptoms.
Testosterone levels can differ based on age, gender, and overall health. Insufficient testosterone levels can lead to several health issues, including reduced sex drive, fatigue, and depression. Conversely, excessive testosterone levels can result in aggression, acne, and mood swings.
Engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, and ensuring adequate sleep are important to maintain healthy testosterone levels. Furthermore, medical treatments are available for individuals with low testosterone levels.
Testosterone (C19H28O2) is a hormone mainly produced by the gonads or sex organs. In individuals assigned male at birth, testosterone is primarily produced by the testicles, while in individuals assigned female at birth, it is mainly produced by the ovaries.
Additionally, the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) produced by the adrenal glands can be converted into testosterone and estrogen in the body. Testosterone is considered the primary androgen hormone that promotes the development of male characteristics.
How Is Testosterone Produced?
The release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from your hypothalamus signals your pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone (LH). LH then travels to your gonads and stimulates the production and release of testosterone.
What Role Does Testosterone Play In Males?
Testosterone plays a role in various bodily functions in men, including the development of mature sperm, regulation of libido, maintenance of bone and muscle mass and strength, growth of the penis and testes, deepening of the voice during puberty, and production of red blood cells.
- Growth of Reproductive Organs: Testosterone plays a crucial role in shaping and developing male reproductive organs like the scrotum, penis, and prostate gland during the fetal stage of development.
- Growth of Secondary Sexual Characteristics: At the onset of puberty, there is a surge in the production of testosterone which brings about the emergence of secondary sexual characteristics in males, such as the expansion of Adam’s apple, the growth of facial and body hair, and a deepening of the voice.
- Muscle Mass: Testosterone stimulates muscular tissue development and enhances muscle size and potency in males, leading to a higher ratio of muscle to fat than in females.
- Body Composition: The distribution of fat in males is impacted by testosterone, resulting in leaner body composition with decreased subcutaneous fat. Additionally, testosterone influences the body’s shape by increasing the shoulder width to waist size ratio, resulting in a more masculine physique.
- Bone Density: In males, testosterone plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining strong, healthy bones. It promotes bone growth and helps prevent osteoporosis or bone loss in the later stages of life.
- Libido and Sexual Function: Testosterone controls male sexual function and desire. It aids in the development and preservation of healthy erectile function and libido.
Testosterone has a vital function in the creation of sperm, which is referred to as spermatogenesis. The process by which testosterone supports sperm production is explained below.
- Stimulation of Spermatogenesis:
Spermatogenesis is a complex series of events that occurs when spermatogonia transform into spermatozoa. This process involves the expression of various genes and interactions between cells, which are regulated by follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH)-stimulated testosterone.
Testosterone plays a vital role in the initiation and regulation of spermatogenesis.
It stimulates Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone, which supports the growth and maturation of sperm cells. Sustaining Sperm Production: Adequate levels of testosterone are necessary for the continuous production of sperm.
It provides the essential signals and support required for the testes’ proper functioning and spermatogenesis sustenance.
2. Regulation of Sertoli Cells:
The process of spermatogenesis is regulated by two hormones: FSH and testosterone. FSH controls the number of Sertoli cells, while testosterone regulates its supportive role in spermatogenesis. The receptors for both hormones are found exclusively on Sertoli cells. Any loss or reduction of these receptors can lead to disorders in spermatogenesis.
Sertoli cells are located in the seminiferous tubules of the testes and play an important role in sperm development. Testosterone interacts with these cells, helping them function properly and supporting the growth and maturation of sperm cells.
3. Sperm Quality:
To increase the chances of fertility, it is recommended for an ejaculation to contain at least 15 million sperm per millilitre. Having a low sperm count can make it harder to conceive as there are fewer sperm available to fertilize the egg potentially.
Testosterone plays a crucial role in the quality of sperm produced, affecting their movement and shape, ultimately impacting their functionality and fertility.
What Role Does Testosterone Play In Females?
Testosterone contributes to reproduction, growth, and overall well-being. It also helps sustain sexual desire in females. This hormone is involved in the mechanisms that fuel sexual thoughts, fantasies, and drives and even facilitate the energy needed for sexual activity in women.
- Sexual Desire: Testosterone is involved in the regulation of female sexual desire and libido. It helps to sustain a healthy level of sexual interest and arousal in females.
- Bone Health: Testosterone aids in upholding the density and robustness of bones in females, which helps prevent osteoporosis, a medical condition identified by fragile and brittle bones.
- Muscle Mass and Strength: Testosterone assists in the growth of lean muscle mass and enhances strength in women. Even though females generally have lower testosterone levels than males, it still contributes to their maintenance and physical abilities.
- Mood Regulation: In women, testosterone plays a role in mood regulation and overall physical and mental health. Maintaining appropriate testosterone levels is linked to improved mood and higher energy levels.
- Cognitive Function: Testosterone can potentially enhance cognitive abilities such as memory, spatial perception, and verbal skills in women.
- Fertility: Testosterone affects ovarian function, follicular development, and ovulation, which is essential for female fertility. Additionally, it plays a part in the growth and maturation of ovarian follicles.
- Overall Well-being: When testosterone levels are at their best, females experience increased liveliness, vigour, and overall healthiness.
What Side Effects Does Too Much Testosterone Have On Females?
Hyperandrogenism is a medical condition characterized by elevated levels of testosterone in females. Although testosterone is essential for good health in both genders, excessive amounts of it in females can result in a range of health issues. Such symptoms can impact a woman’s physical appearance and reproductive system. These include:
- An excessive growth of body hair, particularly on the face.
- Balding: Balding refers to losing hair from the scalp, resulting in partial or complete hair loss.
- Increased muscle mass.
- Enlarged clitoris.
- Decreased breast size.
- Deepening of the voice.
- Hormonal imbalance
- Changes in mood
- Irregular Menstruation
- It may also increase the risks of developing conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometrial Cancer.
However, the effects of testosterone are not limited to females alone. Elevated testosterone levels in males can result in acne, hair loss, and an augmented susceptibility to prostate cancer. Both males and females must maintain optimal testosterone levels to prevent these adverse effects.
Signs And Symptoms Of Low Testosterone.
Low T or hypogonadism is a medical condition that occurs when the body produces inadequate testosterone. Although testosterone levels decrease naturally as people age, if they drop below the typical range for a person’s age, they can cause various symptoms and health problems.
Low-T or hypogonadism is often accompanied by several symptoms or conditions, including reduced sex drive, fatigue, decreased lean muscle mass, irritability, erectile dysfunction, and depression. Low testosterone levels can harm an individual’s quality of life, affecting their physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual well-being.
Although these symptoms may also be caused by other factors such as opioid use, congenital conditions, testicular damage or loss, diabetes, and obesity, it is essential to consult a doctor if any of these symptoms are experienced.
How Can You Diagnose Low Testerone?
Typically, testosterone levels range between 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL); if the levels fall below 300 ng/dL, it is called low testosterone. The serum testosterone test determines the testosterone level; other tests may be conducted to identify the cause of low testosterone.
Although several symptoms may be linked to low testosterone, the total blood testosterone level is the most crucial measure of testosterone deficiency. Diagnosing low testosterone involves using specific signs and symptoms in addition to the testosterone blood level.
The doctor will take your health history and perform an exam during the medical visit.
What Causes Low Testosterone?
Hypogonadism, characterized by low testosterone levels, can result from conditions such as testicular infection or injury, radiation or chemotherapy cancer treatments, and hormonal disorders like pituitary gland disease. Your doctor will assist you in identifying the underlying cause of low testosterone.
According to Dr Eleswarapu, stress can contribute to dysfunction in the body, leading to low testosterone levels. Individuals with poor sleep hygiene, sleep apnea, or significant stress may experience a decrease in testosterone levels.
Smoking and obesity are lifestyle factors that can contribute to low testosterone levels.
Ways To Naturally Increase Testosterone Levels
Physical activity effectively prevents numerous diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Moreover, it can enhance the production of testosterone. A study involving men with obesity found that increasing physical activity positively impacted testosterone levels more than restricting calorie intake.
Various factors, such as the nature of the exercise and the intensity of training, can influence testosterone levels, as stated in a literature review.
Engaging in resistance training, such as weightlifting, has demonstrated short-term benefits in elevating testosterone levels.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is also recognized as a highly effective method, although it should be noted that all forms of exercise can yield some degree of improvement.
Eat A Lot Of Protein
The food you consume has an impact on various hormones, including testosterone.
Adequate protein intake is important for maintaining optimal testosterone levels and promoting fat loss, which can be advantageous. However, engaging in frequent and extreme dieting or overeating can disrupt testosterone levels.
Incorporating healthy fats into your diet may also support testosterone levels and maintain hormonal equilibrium. Certain studies indicate that a low-fat diet might lead to decreased testosterone levels.
Therefore, following a nourishing and well-rounded diet centred around whole foods is advisable. Striking a healthy balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates can help optimize hormone levels and promote overall well-being.”
Minimize Stress And Cortisol Levels
The perils of chronic stress are frequently emphasized in research, as it can lead to heightened hormone cortisol levels.
Rapid surges in cortisol can swiftly diminish testosterone. These hormones often exhibit an inverse relationship, where an increase in one corresponds to a decrease in the other.
Stress and elevated cortisol levels can also contribute to heightened food consumption, weight gain, and the accumulation of detrimental visceral fat around vital organs. These changes can exert a negative impact on testosterone levels.
Managing stress effectively to promote optimal health and maintain balanced hormone levels is advisable. Engaging in regular physical activity, obtaining sufficient sleep each night, and employing stress-relieving techniques can potentially be advantageous.
Increase Vitamin D Intake
Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient with significant implications for overall health. However, many individuals globally experience a deficiency in this nutrient.
Certain studies suggest a potential correlation between low vitamin D levels and decreased testosterone levels.
To ensure adequate vitamin D levels, it is recommended to seek regular sunlight exposure or, under the guidance of a healthcare professional, consider the supplementation of vitamin D3 as directed.
The efficacy of multivitamins remains a subject of intense debate, but specific supplements may potentially promote healthy testosterone levels.
In a particular study, supplementation with zinc was found to elevate testosterone levels and enhance sexual function among postmenopausal women with zinc deficiency.
Another review suggests that zinc supplementation may benefit men experiencing low testosterone levels and infertility, particularly in cases of testosterone deficiency.
Previous studies indicate that certain herbal supplements, such as saw palmetto, ginger, and ashwagandha, can potentially support healthy testosterone levels.
If you contemplate incorporating supplements into your regimen, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.
Rest And Sleep
Getting sufficient sleep is equally vital for your overall well-being, comparable to diet and exercise.
The quality of your sleep can significantly impact testosterone levels. A study involving 2,295 teenage boys and men discovered a potential connection between impaired sleep and reduced testosterone levels.
Similarly, another study involving older men revealed that an extended sleep duration of up to 9.9 hours was associated with higher testosterone levels. Conversely, exceeding 9.9 hours of sleep was linked to decreased testosterone levels.
While individual variations exist, most research suggests that aiming for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night is advisable to promote optimal health and hormonal balance.
Avoid Estrogen-Like Chemicals
Several additional factors can influence hormone levels. Maintaining a satisfying sexual life can help regulate sex hormones and testosterone levels.
Excessive exposure to chemicals that mimic estrogen can also impact testosterone levels. Minimizing daily exposure to substances such as bisphenol-A (BPA), parabens, and other chemicals commonly found in certain plastics is advisable.
Check Your Alcohol Intake
The connection between alcohol and testosterone is multifaceted. Evidence indicates that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to lower testosterone levels.
It has been observed that testosterone levels can decrease as rapidly as 30 minutes after alcohol consumption. Heavy alcohol use can impair testicular function and cause testicular atrophy.
Notably, research involving adolescent boys and young men has discovered that testosterone levels can predict alcohol dependence or the initiation of alcohol use. Higher testosterone levels in saliva or blood have been associated with more frequent and earlier onset of alcohol use.
Having testosterone levels that are too low or too high can contribute to health issues. Maintaining optimal testosterone levels can be achieved through regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep. Testosterone plays a crucial role in the well-being of both men and women and maintaining healthy levels can enhance overall health and vitality.
While testosterone is commonly associated with male hormone function, it also serves important functions in females.
In males, testosterone levels reach their peak around the age of 19 and gradually decline with advancing age. On average, testosterone decreases by approximately 1% to 2% per year after age 30, although the rate of decline may stabilize in the 40s or beyond.
The decline in testosterone levels is a matter of concern because robust research indicates a correlation between low testosterone and an increased risk of obesity, diseases, and premature mortality.
Healthy testosterone levels are also important for people assigned female at birth, along with other key hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
Following a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle using some of the tips outlined above can help optimize testosterone levels and promote overall health.