Testosterone is a sex hormone from the androgen group. Although it is considered a typically male hormone, it is also found in women and is essential for proper functioning. Abnormal levels of testosterone, adversely affect the functioning of the female and male body. Testosterone is a hormone synthesized in men mainly by the testes, in women by the ovaries and the adrenal glands in both men and women. The production of testosterone, is controlled by a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. In men, testosterone is responsible, among other things, for the development of secondary sexual characteristics during puberty. This is when its levels are exceptionally high. From our article you will learn about the normal norm of this hormone, the consequences of deficiency and excess. What is testosterone and how does it affect the body? We invite you to read.
Testosterone in men – the role of testosterone
Testosterone is one of the most important male sex hormones. Its excess or deficiency can indicate endocrine disorders, leading to dangerous complications. Testosterone in men plays the most essential role in the proper maintenance of sexual function, but is also responsible for a number of other activities. As much as 95% of testosterone in men, is produced by Leydig cells, the rest is formed in the adrenal glands. Testosterone in men is responsible for:
- development of the male genital organs, maintaining their functionality in adulthood. Thanks to it, testes, seminal vesicles, scrotum, penis, prostate glands develop,
- sperm production,
- development of male hair type,
- sexual initiation,
- proper alignment of the vocal cords,
- fat distribution,
- influences the growth of muscle mass,
- stimulates and maintains sexual function,
- testosterone ensures the growth of long bones by acting with growth hormone.
Testosterone is often referred to as the aggression hormone – a hurtful term, because in fact testosterone is the male health hormone. Of course, if its levels in the body are normal.
Testosterone levels in men – normal and deficiency.
Proper production of testosterone has a huge impact on the functioning of the body in men. Testosterone deficiency syndrome is most common in men over the age of 50 and affects up to 2-6% of men. However, it is not always related to age, so it is worth noting the accompanying decrease in testosterone production:
- erectile dysfunction,
- lowered sexual desire and decreased sexual activity,
- erectile dysfunction,
- rare and weak morning erections,
- decreased body hair,
- gynecomastia (overgrowth of the mammary gland),
- weight loss,
- decrease in muscle strength,
- decrease in bone mass,
- sleep disturbances,
- metabolic disorders,
- deterioration of intellectual performance,
- mood swings,
- decrease in energy,
- hot flashes.
In boys at puberty, low testosterone levels can be indicated by delayed sexual maturation and lack of development of secondary sexual characteristics. Deficiency of this hormone in young men can result in difficulties with fertility. It should also be borne in mind that the normal level of testosterone, and the symptoms of its decline, will vary depending on age. The cause of testosterone deficiency in the body, may be Klinefelter syndrome. This is a genetically determined disease and is associated with a deviation from the chromosomal norm. Other causes include a disorder of testicular development or descent, testicular tumors (which also affect younger men), inflammation or idiopathic testicular atrophy. Other causes include Kallman’s syndrome, pituitary or hypothalamic failure due to trauma, radiation therapy, infection or tumor. With age, the pulsatile secretion of GnRH and LH is impaired – the number of interstitial Leydig cells decreases, blood supply deteriorates, resulting in a decrease in testosterone levels. This process can already occur in men around the age of 40, and is accelerated by certain genetic conditions, addictions, medications, obesity or chronic diseases.
Excess testosterone in men
Natural testosterone excess in men is not a common occurrence. Most often the excess occurs in athletes and bodybuilders who take supplements and preparations with testosterone. Initially, testosterone taken externally affects muscle mass and sexual function, but excessive intake, blocks the natural hormone, resulting in:
- reduction in testicle size,
- disappearance of male characteristics,
- metabolic syndrome,
- mental disorders,
- liver disease,
- prostate proliferation,
- swelling of the legs,
- weight gain,
- high cholesterol levels,
- mood swings,
- in adolescence – stunted growth.
Importantly – the determination of testosterone levels in the blood, is a standard test in the diagnosis of infertility.
Testosterone – norm and role in the female body
Although testosterone is the most important sex hormone in men, women can’t live without it either. However, medicine still does not know the full impact of testosterone on the female body. However, it has been proven that, like estrogen (the most important female sex hormone), it plays an important role in increasing fertility in ladies. Adequate levels of this hormone ensure ovarian function, properly mineralize bones and affect libido levels. Some studies indicate that testosterone in women has neuroprotective effects. Abnormal levels of this hormone in the female body, affect the dysfunction of the body, as well as the appearance of serious diseases. Too low levels of testosterone and estrogen – according to some studies – can be linked to Alzhaimer’s disease. Elevated levels of testosterone, on the other hand, affect the development of polycystic ovary syndrome.
In almost most women, testosterone is produced peripherally – the production of testosterone from androstendione takes place in the liver, adipose tissue and skin. In the other half, it is produced within the ovaries and in the reticular layer of the adrenal cortex. Importantly, low doses of testosterone administered to women result in a reduction in symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression. In addition, testosterone has been shown to reduce mental disorders that occur in women after ovarian removal surgery.
High testosterone levels in women
Excess and deficiency of testosterone in women, affects their health. Reasons for elevated levels of this hormone can include
- hormonal imbalances of estrogen and progesterone,
- low or no physical activity,
- insulin resistance,
- loss of appetite control and metabolic regulation.
Symptoms of increased testosterone secretion in women is very characteristic, its symptoms are:
- Excessive body hair (hisuritism). Hirsutism can indicate ovarian, kidney and thyroid problems. Therefore, testing of testosterone levels in such cases, is essential.
- Masculinization – the appearance of male sexual characteristics, such as excessive body hair, increasing muscle mass, lowering of the tone of voice, atrophy of the nipples, clitoral hypertrophy.
- skin problems,
- lower immunity of the body,
- tendency to gain weight,
- loss of fertility,
- problems getting pregnant or maintaining a pregnancy,
- hyperactivity, aggression
- male pattern baldness,
- menstrual cycle disorders,
- decrease in libido.
Low testosterone levels in women
Testosterone deficiency in women also affects the proper functioning of the body. With age, testosterone levels decline, but deficiency problems, can occur in women of any age. Reduced testosterone levels can be related to menopause, but also hormonal contraception, autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus), stress, adrenal insufficiency. Symptoms of testosterone deficiency can manifest as follows:
- muscle weakness,
- weight gain,
- difficulty sleeping regularly,
- hair loss and baldness,
- decreased bone density: osteoporosis and osteopenia,
- decreased genital arousal,
- decrease in libido,
- depression and anxiety.
Testosterone testing – when to perform the test?
If a patient develops the symptoms mentioned in the above paragraphs, associated with abnormal testosterone norms, testing should be performed. The test is conducted based on a blood sample, taken on an empty stomach in the morning. Therefore, it is best to go for an appointment between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Even a little physical exertion affects the test results, so you should remain seated for about 10-15 minutes before taking the test. Testosterone test results should be interpreted by a doctor – the values depend on accepted laboratory standards.
Testing of testosterone levels in men and women. Testosterone norms
Testosterone – level testing in men and women. Testosterone norms in men and women are as follows:
Free testosterone – norms:
- men: 174-792 pmol/l (50-210 ng/l)
- Women: <29.5 pmol/l (<8.5 ng/l)
Total testosterone – norms:
- men: 9.0-34.7 nmol/l (260-1000 ng/dl)
- women: 0.52-2.43 nmol/l (15-70 ng/dl)
However, as we mentioned, the results must be interpreted by a doctor, who will diagnose the condition and give the correct treatment for testosterone decline or excess.
Testosterone deficiency – how to raise testosterone levels?
In treating low testosterone, it will be crucial to identify the cause of the disorder, so that the appropriate treatment can be implemented. Each therapy is individualized and tailored to the needs of the patient. Treatment will occur differently in a young man trying to have a child, and in a mature man whose testosterone deficiency is age-related, in which case there will be administration of testosterone in the form of preparations. However, any therapy will require a healthy lifestyle. Thus, a balanced diet, including carbohydrates, fats and proteins, will be needed. It is also important to maintain a healthy body weight and avoid stimulants such as alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Men will also need to avoid overheating of the testicles, so give up saunas and hot baths. With that said, physical exercise and sleep hygiene are important.
How to raise testosterone levels?
- Various medical products and dietary supplements that stimulate the synthesis of male sex hormone by the body and contain elements such as zinc, calcium and magnesium will help.
- use of vitamin D, which inhibits the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, and vitamin B3, which helps convert cholesterol into testosterone,
- proper diet,
- physical exercise – 2-3 times a week.
Testosterone administered externally in women acts antagonistically to estrogen. This means that it reduces excessive bleeding, breast swelling before menstruation, inhibits the secretion of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland, lactation, inhibits the formation of metastases in breast cancer.
Excessive levels of testosterone in the body – treatment.
As we mentioned, most often excess testosterone in adult men is associated with the intake of supplements by athletes. However, in women it can occur due to internal hormonal imbalance, which is dangerous to health. How to lower testosterone? The most common methods used are birth control pills, which contain progesterone and estradiol, in some cases – steroid drugs. In the case of natural methods, a proper diet has an impact, products that lower the level of the male hormone are:
- products containing a large amount of carbohydrates, simple sugars – sweets, white sugar,
- highly processed food, poor-quality fats ready meals, low-grade meat, fast food,
- low-calorie diets that do not meet the body’s energy needs.
Excessive testosterone levels, can also result from high physical activity – so lowering activity can help lower testosterone. Nevertheless, the above examples, are not healthy for the overall functioning of the body, as they cause the risk of other diseases: including obesity and diabetes. That’s why it’s so necessary to follow doctors’ recommendations and undergo the therapy they recommend. High testosterone levels can have very serious consequences – both in men and women, so if you are diagnosed with excessive testosterone secretion, you should go for tests and then undergo the therapy suggested by your doctor.
Testosterone is a hormone without which both men and women cannot fully function properly. Its deviation from the norm – excess or deficiency, can cause complications and diseases that are serious in their consequences. Therefore, it is important to watch your body and, if necessary, do the necessary tests to control the level of this hormone in the body.