Whenever we hear the word testosterone, we relate it to male characteristics. Most of us know that testosterone is a male sex hormone, but what does testosterone do for men? We come across many facts and myths too, when it comes to sex hormones. In this article, we shall discuss all the aspects related to testosterone. Read further to know more.
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a male sex hormone, which is produced by the testicles in males. A negligent amount of testosterone is also secreted by female ovaries. estosterone is responsible for the sex drive of men and the chest hair too. Testosterone plays an important role during the puberty of any male, by increasing the size of penis and testes, and deepening his voice. As the man grows into an adult, testosterone helps to maintain the strength of his body and muscles and helps to keep him interested in sex.
How Is Testosterone Measured?
Out of the many ways to measure testosterone, a blood test is the most common one. Many times, doctors measure the brain hormones that are responsible for the production of testosterone and other hormones related to it. The brain hormones that are associated with differentiation of sex are Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicular Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Testosterone can also be measured by detecting the Sex Hormone Binding Hormone (SHBH) flowing in the blood stream. Through SNBH, total testosterone and free testosterone can also be measured.
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What Does Testosterone Do For Men?
Let us study the effects of testosterone since the beginning:
Between four to six weeks of gestation
At this stage, the production of testosterone starts in a fetus and causes virilization of the genitals, along with the formation of the penis, seminal vesicles and prostrate.
During the 2nd trimester of fetus stage
There is an increase in the androgen and testosterone levels. So the gender identity becomes precise too. It is also believed that during this stage exposure to increased androgens can predict whether the fetus is a male or a female. However, this theory is still not accepted widely.
During the first weeks of life of baby boys
Testosterone levels increase during this stage. The level of the hormone remains in the pubertal range for quite a few months, but is barely detectable. The reason behind it is still not clear. There are no significant changes due to testosterone in other parts of the body, so it is presumed that the male infant undergoes ‘brain masculinisation’ during this period.
During the period of puberty
The significant effects of androgens are seen since the onset of puberty. They are as follows:
- Skin and hair become oilier
- Body odor becomes like that of an adult
- Acne is the most common symptom
- Subcutaneous fats from the face start degrading causing a change in the face. Masculine facial features become prominent due to changes in the brow, nose, chin, jaw and other facial bones.
- Pubic hair start appearing first, then axillary hair show up and lastly facial hair and chest hair start growing.
- Mass and muscle strength increase too.
- This is a period of growth spurt.
- Deepening of voice occurs.
- There is an expansion of the rib cage and broadening of the shoulders.
- Bone maturation becomes rapid.
- Adam’s Apple develops and grows
- Libido increases and the frequency of erection too
- Penis, scrotum and testicles enlarge
- Spermatogenic tissues in the testicles grow and male fertility increases
During the adult phase
Male features are continuously maintained in the adult phase. Also, the effect of androgen and testosterone keep making changes in the male body.
- Testosterone helps to maintain the normal development of sperms. Genes in Sertoli cells are activated due to it and they aid in the differentiation sperm. During the adulthood period, testosterone, androgens and FSH work in co-ordination to act on the Sertoli cells for the production of sperms.
- During this stage, if the testosterone is stimulated with exercise and weights, then muscles are enlarged and they become toned.
- With the help of thromboxane A2 receptors, bleeding and clotting are regulated by testosterone.
- Androgens cause a change in the structure of the brain and change the behavior pattern of a male.
- Libido increases
- Levels of aggression become higher
- Physical and cognitive energy get regulated
- The restriction of fat cells to store lipids occurs, along with restriction of fat deposition
What Does Low Testosterone Mean?
It is normal for the testosterone levels to gradually decrease with the increasing age. This is also termed as hypogonadism. It may occur in younger men too. According to research, after the age of 40, the testosterone levels drop by 1.6% every year. In younger men, low testosterone levels may be a permanent condition or may be a temporary condition. Temporary lowering of testosterone levels may be due to insufficient nutrition, excessive exercise or severe illness.
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Which Are The Signs Of Low Testosterone In Men?
The normal range of testosterone level is 300- 1000 ng/dL. If the levels drop below this, it can be referred to as hypogonadism.
Following are the signs of low testosterone levels in men:
- Sex drive decreases what we also call as the lowering of the libido. This condition can happen to a woman too.
- Testosterone plays a vital role in achieving an erection. So lower levels of this hormone create difficulty in achieving erection. On the other hand, erection occurs at awkward timings like during sleep. Other health condition may also affect the erection factor. So it should not be assumed that the testosterone level has decreased, without proper tests.
- The man having a low testosterone level will have lower volume of semen. Due to this condition, the motility of the sperms is also negatively affected.
- Loss of hair occurs in men with low testosterone levels. It means baldness and loss of body hair too.
- Men with low testosterone level will experience a lack of energy and fatigue, in spite of having proper rest and sleep.
- Strength and mass of muscles degrade
- The weight storage capacity of the body of men is also affected adversely due to low testosterone levels. So a man may experience an increase in the body fats.
- For men who undergo this condition for several years, the bones become thin. Hence, the bone mass is decreased.
- Low testosterone not only has physical effects, but also induces mood swings Such men often fall victim to depression, irritation and lack of concentration.
Having discussed relevant facts related to testosterone, we hope that you have a clear idea of what testosterone does for men. In case of any query or suggestion, feel free to drop it in the comment box below.