What is Testosterone and How Does It Work?
Understanding what testosterone is the key to fully understanding how it works and what its primary functions are in the male human body. Testosterone is a steroid hormone that has the ability to stimulate certain sexual characteristics in men, primarily in the testicular region. Testosterone is a key component when it comes to the overall sexual health of a man. Most people have heard of testosterone but have no idea what it is or what it actually does. Keep reading to discover a basic overview of testosterone and how it functions.
Testosterone belongs to a hormone class called androgens which many times anabolic steroids or steroids. Testosterone is produced in the testicles and some are produced in the adrenal glands. Hypothalamus in the brain and the pituitary gland have the ability to control the production of testosterone. The hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland how much testosterone it is required to produce, and then this message is sent to the testes. All of these communications happen via the hormones as well as chemicals throughout the blood stream.
Testosterone plays a role in the development of the sex organs of a male before birth. It comes back around puberty to impact increased testicle and penis size as well as the growth of body and facial hair. Testosterone plays a huge role in the production of sperm, sex drive, distribution of fat, production of red cells, and muscle mass and strength. Women’s ovaries also produce testosterone but at a very low level.
Testosterone and Body Functions
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males. Hormones have the ability to send messages to various parts of the body. In essence, they are telling tissues and cells what to do. Without hormones, the majority of the body’s functions would be completely out of control. Many factors come into play when it comes to how much testosterone a man produces. Much of this relies on genetics, nutrition, lifestyle, and age. The most prominent effects of testosterone are seen during puberty when boys start to grow facial hair, body hair, and their voices start to deepen.
This hormone also plays a significant role in sperm development and sexual function. These functions are standardly known as male secondary sex characteristics. When testosterone levels in men are low, many of these functions cannot be performed. Testosterone also effects the advancement of the growth of tissue within the body, in essence, the muscle tissue. The hormone can boost the rate of protein synthesis which builds up muscle tissue within the body. This is the reason that men are typically more
muscular than men because they can produce muscles at a faster rate. Men carry more weight than women due to their ability to create larger muscle mass.
As previously stated, having low testosterone in the body can cause various different types of symptoms. Testosterone does tend to decrease with age, so low testosterone levels are common in men over the age of 50. Here is a list of some of the most common symptoms of low testosterone:
- Decreased sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased sperm count
- Irritability, depression and lack of concentration
- Softened or shrunken testicles
- Decreased hair and muscle mass
- Bone sensitivity (fracture prone)
If you are a man that is currently considered with the possibility of having a low level of testosterone, a doctor can test your blood to measure the amount of testosterone in your blood. It is very possible that they may recommend testosterone therapy which means you will have to receive the hormone via a different method. There are gels that you apply to specific areas of the body as well as a skin patch that you can wear on your testicles.
If you are using the gel there are certain precautions that you must take such as frequently washing your hands and keeping the areas where the gel is applied, completely covered at all times.
Most doctors, however, recommend that if you plan on having children then not to use hormone therapy. Testosterone therapy causes men to have a low sperm count which would significantly lower your chances of conceiving a child. Testosterone therapy has proven to work most effectively when prescribed to men over the age of 50 who do not plan to have any more children. It increases their sex drive tremendously but may cause depression in some cases.
Testosterone plays a very important role in the body functions in men. When it is at its normal level, it can produce more muscle mass and keep sexual function and drive precisely where they are supposed to be. If you are concerned about the possibility of low testosterone, it is important that you consult a physician as soon as possible.