Basically a male sex hormone, testosterone main role is to regulate the different physical features in males. Testosterone is produced in the testes and this hormone facilitates a male’s transformation from a boy to an adult male. This male hormone works to make the voice deeper, strength the bones, build muscles, enhance the size of the penis and also promotes body hair growth, for instance facial and pubic hair. Though this is primarily a male sex hormone, it is also produced in women’s body, however in much smaller amounts.
A standard amount of testosterone is needed by men in order to make sperm as well as have children. In addition to developing several reproductive tissues, including the penis and testes, testosterone also plays a crucial part in developing the prostate gland. In addition, testosterone supports vigorous secondary sexual traits, for instance enhanced sex drive (libido) and augmented bone mass. It is worth mentioning here that it is important for men to have a normal level of testosterone in their body to ensure good health and preventing osteoporosis.
Generally speaking, the levels of testosterone in men are about seven times higher compared to the presence of this hormone in adult females. Similarly, the metabolic consumption of different hormones in men daily is 20 times more than in women. Often the testosterone levels in an individual drops and this is primarily owing to poor nourishment, too much exercise and various ailments. When the testosterone levels in the body are low, it affects various functions such as it leads to lower libido, low sperm count, insufficient erections and enlarged breasts. Symptoms of low levels of testosterone can also result in poor energy.
Scientists have classified testosterone as an anabolic steroid (also known as anabolic-androgenic steroids) since it increases body tissues and, at the same time, helps the body to retain proteins. Testosterone is produced in the gonads of both women as well as men. This male sex hormone is drawn from cholesterol. Aside from being present in our body naturally, synthetic or man-made testosterone is also used for treating specific medical conditions. In addition, many athletes also take this hormone to enhance their performance in competitions. However, several professional sports bodies have banned use of testosterone for improving athletic performance.
Production of testosterone increases during the initial years of puberty in both males and females helping the body to mature and spurt growth. It also promotes body hair growth, makes the skin and hair oily and helps in the development of different characteristics related to sex. The increase in testosterone production also makes the testicles to move down. As a result of testosterone spike, the voice of a male deepens and his body maintains producing this hormone. However, the amount of testosterone produced by a male’s body decreases significantly when he becomes old.
This hormone is also responsible for the physical differences in the brains of males and females. The male brain is relatively larger compared to a woman’s brain as the male body has several other organs. This is also because testosterone causes the growth rate to increase significantly. On the other hand, the corpus callosum, which is actually the connection between the brain’s hemispheres, is bigger in females. As of date, several studies have been undertaken on this subject, but the scientists are yet to ascertain the precise impact of this on cognition and abilities.
Often testosterone is used therapeutically to cure conditions arising due to the body’s inability to produce this hormone in adequate amount. Usually, a blood test is undertaken to examine the amount of testosterone being produced by a male body and if the physician thinks it is essential, he or she may recommend therapeutic (man-made) hormones. In addition, synthetic testosterone is also used for curing certain types of cancers that respond positively to steroids. In the case of women, it is also used to treat gender dysmorphia and help them to develop more male sex characteristics during their transition period.
Similar to various other steroids, this male sex hormone can prove to be detrimental for one’s health if taken in excess. This is especially when one takes additional testosterone without enough and appropriate medical supervision. When the testosterone levels in one’s body is unusually high it may result in extremely oily skin, sleeping problems, development of specific types of cancer and various other complications related to high levels of this hormone. Similarly, deficiency of this hormone can also prove to be detrimental and it will result in poor energy levels, lower libido (urge to have sex), and even maintaining overall health. It has been found that in most cases the human body possesses the ability to naturally govern the levels of different hormones and most people generally do not require any medical care for this. When the normal levels of testosterone declines, various aged men involve themselves in androgen replacement therapy programs with a view to sustain their health and vigour at the level of that in their younger age.
Functions of testosterone
A vital male sex hormone, testosterone is mainly responsible for controlling the external aspects of males. As discussed above, testosterone is produced in the testes and it helps a body to transform from a boy to an adult male. This hormone contributes to muscle formation, making the bones stronger, deepening the voice tone, enhance the size of the penis and development of body hair, such as pubic and facial hair. This hormone is also produced in the female body, but it is formed in very small amounts in women.
Adult males require a specific amount of testosterone so that they can produce sperm, which eventually produce offspring. It plays a vital role in develop the prostate and also the reproductive cells in males, such as the penis and testes. This hormone is also essential for nourishing the secondary sexual characteristics, which include interest in sexual activities (libido) and expanded bone mass.
It is worth mentioning here that testosterone circulates throughout the body via the bloodstream. In order to ascertain the levels of testosterone in a male’s body, it is necessary to undergo certain medical examinations. Usually, a blood test is required to determine the amount of testosterone in a male’s body.
Testosterone works to encourage the bone marrow to produce red blood cells (erythrocytes). Findings of various scientific studies have shown that this male hormone may possibly have a positive effect on the heart. Studies undertaken to determine the effects of testosterone on blood pressure, cholesterol and its ability to bust blood clots have yielded positive results.
This is a vital male hormone, which a male starts producing very early – in fact, just seven weeks after conception. The levels of testosterone spike in the initial years of puberty and reach a peak in the latter years of teen. After this, the levels of this male sex hormone maintain a standard. Usually, after a person attains 30 years the levels of testosterone starts declining a little every year.
Usually the amount of testosterone in most men is more than sufficient. However, production of this male sex hormone may be less than required in some men. When this happens it may result in a condition known hypogonadism. A hormonal therapy can be undertaken to cure this condition. However, this requires a physician’s prescription and vigilant monitoring. It is important to note that men whose testosterone levels are normal should never go for testosterone therapy, because excess of this hormone may result in various complications. In fact, the levels of testosterone in a man’s body can have an effect on everything starting from their reproductive system and libido (sexual drive) to their bone and muscle density. This hormone also has an impact of specific behaviours in men.
Everyone’s body possesses a system whereby it can govern testosterone; transmit messages through chemicals and hormones, which are passed on into the bloodstream. The hypothalamus in our brain informs the pituitary gland the amount of testosterone required by the body. Accordingly, the pituitary gland passes on the message to the testes either to enhance or reduce the production of this male sex hormone.
It has been established that testosterone has a vital part vis-à-vis particular behaviours, such as dominance and aggression. In addition, this male sex hormone helps to boost self-esteem and trigger competitiveness. Similar to sexual activities resulting to increased or decreased testosterone production, participation in competitions may also result in an increase or decrease of testosterone levels in a man’s body. Poor levels of testosterone may be responsible for loss of self-confidence as well as lack of enthusiasm. In addition, poor levels of this hormone may also decrease the ability of a man to concentrate or make him sad. Deficiency of testosterone may also be responsible for lack of energy and result in sleep disturbance.
It has been observed that the declining testosterone levels in a man may also adversely affect his body hair. In fact, he may lose some of his body hair due to this. The level of this male sex hormone can be restored in the body by undertaking testosterone replacement therapy, but this treatment regimen has a number of potential adverse side effects. These side effects may include acne as well as breast enlargement. It may also result in formation of testosterone patches on the skin giving rise to trifling skin irritation. In such situations, it may be easier to use topical gels, but even then one needs to take great care to ensure that they do not transfer testosterone to other people via skin-to-skin contact.
Testosterone is among the several facets that are responsible for promoting muscle bulk formation and strength. This male sex hormone also enhances neurotransmitters, which, in turn, promotes growth of tissues. In addition, testosterone also acts together with the nuclear receptors in the DNA, thereby resulting in synthesis of proteins. It also helps to augment the levels of growth hormones. This is the primary reason why we build muscles when we exercise.
Aside from increasing bone density, testosterone sends signals to the bone marrow to make red blood cells. Men who have very low levels of this sex hormone are more susceptible to bone fractures and their bones breaking. This is because deficiency of testosterone causes the bone to become brittle.
Testosterone also has a significant role in helping men to burn off fat more proficiently. In other words, this male sex hormone is important for men in fat metabolism. When the levels of testosterone decline it often leads to increase fat in the body.