What is Testosterone? Effects, Uses, and Function

Testosterone is a sex hormone that affects men and women. It’s responsible for the development of male sex characteristics, including muscle mass, hair distribution, facial hair growth (in some people), deepening of the voice (in both sexes), and enlarged genitals.

Testosterone also plays an important role in bone density and strength, fat distribution, red blood cell production, moods/emotions/sexuality (for both sexes), and cognitive functions like memory or concentration. Low testosterone levels can lead to health risks such as osteoporosis or depression.

In this guide, I will be explaining how testosterone is created by the body from cholesterol as well as how it affects your body on a daily basis!

Effects of Levels Too High?

In most cases, we’ll be dealing with the effects of low T.

There are in fact, associated issues with levels being elevated.

The thing to keep in mind is to keep everything in balance.

Excess testosterone can have some unpleasant side effects, including acne, oily skin, facial/body hair growth, male-pattern baldness (in both sexes), an enlarged clitoris in women.

Too much testosterone is also thought to be linked with conditions like heart disease or prostate cancer, though this is still being studied by scientists.  

Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should never take testosterone supplements without first consulting their physician.

Risks for men include things like fertility issues and testicle shrinkage; it’s also contraindicated in men who’ve had prostate cancer. However, studies show that testosterone therapy may actually help protect the health of your heart and improve cholesterol levels if suffer from low T.

How does testosterone decrease with age?

So now you know the basics about testosterone.

Let’s dive in a little deeper and find out what causes decreases in testosterone levels as men age.

The testes are responsible for producing testosterone, which is their primary function.

After puberty, men have within them approximately 4 million sperm per ml of semen — all produced by the testicles.

And yes, every one of those sperm cells contains a full X chromosome!   

Testosterone production is regulated by three hormones that are secreted from the pituitary gland at the base of the brain: luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and growth hormone (GH).

These three hormones collectively stimulate your Leydig cells (which make testosterone) to produce more of it.

As men age, levels of these three hormones decline – which affects the testes’ ability to produce testosterone.

There are other reasons that you see lower testosterone levels as you get older, too. For one thing, low T is linked with loss of lean muscle mass — which means more of your total body weight is made up of fat.

The good news? It’s never ‘too late’ to do something about it! There are things you can do at any age to improve your testosterone levels .       

How is Low T Diagnosed?

First, you need to determine whether you have low testosterone or not!

There are several methods that your doctor can use to detect problems, including:

– blood tests; this is the most common way to measure testosterone in the body.

Your healthcare provider will draw a small vial of blood during an office visit and send it off for analysis – usually to a lab at the hospital.

Other blood markers like LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) may also be tested in order to better understand all the related hormones.

If levels are too high, then diagnostic procedures like CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds or biopsies may be used to identify the location of a tumor.

– saliva tests; these are a less common method for testosterone testing, but there is some promising research out there that show saliva samples can give you valuable information about your T levels.  

This test may be especially helpful for men who have been diagnosed with very low or very high testosterone levels, as blood tests may yield inaccurate results in those cases.

Saliva samples aren’t as accurate as blood tests, however – so don’t go taking one without running it by your doctor first!   

In addition to conducting a full physical examination and reviewing your medical history, your physician will also need to conduct a thorough psychiatric evaluation before diagnosing low testosterone levels.  

They’ll ask you questions about your behavior, sexual function, energy levels and mood in order to help pinpoint the cause of any symptoms you’re experiencing.

A few other conditions that may lead to low testosterone include obesity, malnutrition, pituitary tumors, or genetic problems.   It’s also common for men who are taking medications for chronic illnesses to experience testosterone decreases.

It’s important to understand that being completely devoid of testosterone isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

Testosterone deficiencies are only officially considered ‘abnormal’ when they lead to negative side effects like ED, infertility or loss of muscle mass.  

When these problems occur, then it’s time to start talking with your doctor about getting yourself tested – hopefully with blood test rather than saliva samples!

Potential Side Effects of Low T

Low testosterone levels can lead to serious medical complications!

Some of the most common problems associated with low T include:

– Mood changes; you may feel irritable, sad, or depressed for no reason.

– Loss of muscle mass; this is especially true if your body fat percentage goes up while your lean muscle mass goes down (which often happens as you get older).  Loss of both muscle and bone density makes it difficult to stay strong and healthy – which puts you at greater risk for falls, fractures, injuries and other health issues!       Women who experience testosterone deficiency are also more likely to develop osteoporosis than their peers.

– Memory loss; some research suggests that memory loss may be an early symptom of testosterone deficiency.

– Increased risk of heart disease; this is due to changes in cholesterol levels and plaque buildup in your blood vessels.

– Sexual problems; low testosterone can cause men to experience erectile dysfunction or infertility, while women may notice a decrease in libido.

– Hot flashes related to menopause!  However, it’s important to note that low testosterone isn’t the same thing as being diagnosed with menopause – even if they sometimes have similar symptoms.   

It has an impact on people differently.

While some may experience mood changes, depression, others may have muscle loss or even ED issues.

Is HRT A Fit For You?  

Before you can begin hormone replacement therapy, your doctor will need to confirm that the root of your problem is in fact low testosterone levels.

This means certain conditions like depression or heart disease must be ruled out, and all other possible causes for your symptoms must be eliminated.

If low testosterone is indeed what’s causing your issues – then HRT or getting a quality test booster may be a good option once any other health concerns are under control!  

Remember, low T isn’t always dangerous; most men who have it don’t even notice any symptoms at all! However, when these problems occur they can lead to serious medical complications if left untreated.     

Also, keep in mind that being diagnosed with low testosterone isn’t necessarily a reason to start taking testosterone supplements right away!   

It’s important to understand that low levels of testosterone can be caused by many different things – obesity, malnutrition, pituitary tumors or genetic problems are just a few examples. When no obvious cause is found, then treatment will focus on alleviating any negative symptoms you’re experiencing.   

If your doctor does determine that you have ‘low T’, the two of you should discuss what form of HRT might work best for you.  

There are three main types: injections every 2-3 weeks, skin patches applied daily and gels applied to the arms or shoulders several times per day.

Your health care provider will let you know which one is best suited to your needs as some will require more frequent or less frequent injections.

Can testosterone therapy promote youth and vitality?

HRT has been proven to increase testosterone levels, but does it also confer more energy and vigor?

Many men report feeling like they have more energy after undergoing treatment for low T.  

Testosterone supplementation has also been shown to increase lean muscle mass and bone density – which can help you stay strong and healthy as you age!

So much so that testosterone supplementation has even been shown to lower the risk of heart disease in older men with low blood levels of testosterone!   

In other words, it seems that taking a testosterone supplement may lead to a longer, healthier life!   

What Happens When First Taking Testosterone?

When first taking testosterone supplements, you may feel a little tired or lightheaded for the first few weeks. This is because your body needs time to adjust to its new testosterone levels.   

But don’t worry – these symptoms will subside as your testosterone levels continue to rise!   

Once you’ve gone through this initial period of adjustment – which can last up to six months – you’ll likely notice big changes in your feelings of wellness and energy levels.     

You may find yourself with an improved mood, better focus at work, more drive during workouts and increased libido!   

These are all great things that can improve your life right away – but keep in mind they won’t happen automatically after starting treatment!

Blood Pressure on HRT

It’s important to note that testosterone supplementation may affect your blood pressure differently depending on dosage and whether or not you’re taking other medications.

For example, if you’re over the age of 65 and taking a testosterone supplement – it’s possible that you’ll experience an increased risk of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), especially if your testosterone levels are very high!     

If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor like Finasteride to help lower prostate swelling.     

On the other hand, low T can also affect men by causing a drop in healthy red blood cells which can lead to anemia.  In situation, HRT has been shown to increase red cell counts, helping you fight off this potentially debilitating condition.

It’s also important to note that testosterone supplementation may affect your cholesterol levels – elevating the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, while simultaneously raising your HDL (or ‘good’) cholesterol.   

What can go wrong?  

Testosterone supplementation has been shown to increase the risk of suffering a stroke.  

But it’s important to keep in mind that these risks are not experienced by everyone and they’re typically not life-threatening if treatment is stopped soon enough!   

Also keep in mind that even though some problems occur with testosterone supplementation, there are many benefits as well – most notably increased energy levels and improved libido many others.   

It’s also important to have regular labs conducted as most insurance providers allow you to be tested every 90 days so that your doctor can keep a check on your vitals to make sure everything is working as planned.

In the event, there are issues, your doctor may make alterations to your protocol.

Testosterone Patches Vs Injections

When first starting testosterone therapy, one of the initial questions we ask patients is “how do you want to take your testosterone?”

Patients can choose between a gel (which is applied topically and then absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin), an injection (where small doses are released directly into the body, or a testosterone patch (which works much like a topical gel – transferring small amounts of testosterone though the skin).      

Once treatment has begun, it can be changed to another form should you notice side effects from one type to another.   

Also keep in mind that once treatment starts, changes may not immediately be noticed.  It does take time for your body’s natural production of testosterone to shut down so that when it’s time for your next injection or patch application, testosterone levels may still be high.   

In these cases, it’s important to have a plan in place so that you’re not stuck at the wrong dosage without any medication!     

At first, many patients complain of increased acne and hair growth on their face and body.  This is caused by the fact that testosterone works as a precursor hormone to dihy-drotestosterone (DHT), which causes new hairs to sprout up on your cheeks and back where they previously didn’t exist.

Once treatment begins however, this becomes less of an issue as DHT levels decrease instead of increase.   

If side effects from treatment do become concerning, talk to your doctor about adjusting your dosage or switching to a different form of treatment.   

Bottom line: testosterone supplementation may increase your risk of suffering from an enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, and even an increased risk of having a stroke!   

Keep in mind however that these risks typically aren’t experienced by all men and they’re not life-threatening provided the patient seeks medical attention should issues arise.

Having regular labs conducted is also important as it allows your doctor to check for any issues early on instead of finding out about them after months or years of treatment!     

And finally, keep in mind that although testosterone can cause problems if it’s administered properly – many experience health benefits such as increased energy levels and improved libido.

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