Why Testosterone Is Important

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Testosterone is an androgen hormone produced by the adrenal cortex, the testes (for men at birth), and the ovaries (for women at birth). It is often considered the main sex hormone associated with men, assigned by men at birth. Testosterone stimulates the development of secondary male sexual characteristics (such as body hair and muscle growth) and plays an important role in sperm production. For those who are assigned a female at birth, testosterone, among other things, helps maintain healthy bones and reproductive system and promotes sexual desire.

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Healthy males who have gone through puberty have testosterone levels 15 times higher than healthy males assigned to a female at birth .

Testosterone imbalances can cause infertility in both genders. Low testosterone levels in cisgender men can cause infertility. High testosterone levels are linked to infertility in those who can become pregnant .

Testosterone levels can be determined with a blood test. This is usually part of the evaluation of infertility in all genders.

Hormonal supplements

Testosterone is a powerful steroid hormone whose chemical composition is C19-H28-O2. Testosterone is also known as 17-beta-hydroxy-4-androsten-3-one.

Prescription testosterone is used to treat conditions associated with hypogonadism in cis men and delayed puberty in cis boys .

While it can be used off-label to treat symptoms of perimenopause or low sex drive, there is no FDA-approved indication for testosterone prescribed in women prescribed for women at birth.

Another area of medicine where testosterone is prescribed is in transmasculine people (those who are assigned to women at birth but exist as men).

It is available as a gel, topical solution, patch, injection, granule (for implantation), or oral capsule.

Brand names include Androderm, AndroGel, AndroGel Pump, Aveed, Axiron, Depo-Testosterone, First-Testosterone, First-Testosterone MC, Fortesta, Natesto, Striant, Testim, Testopel, Vogelxo, and Vogelxo Pump.

Risks of taking supplements

Too much testosterone can cause infertility in both genders. Testosterone supplements can also increase the risk of stroke, hypertension, red blood cell build-up, heart attack, blood clots in the legs, pulmonary embolism, and cancer. The FDA only approves its use for hypogonadism and does not recommend its use if testosterone levels are low due to aging. The Society of Endocrinologists, on the other hand, supports its possible use in older men with proven testosterone deficiency, with the goal of achieving low normal hormone levels, but only after careful consideration of the risks and benefits.

Warning : do not try to take testosterone yourself. There are several websites that sell "testosterone supplements" and many of them are bogus and even dangerous. Even if the testosterone supplement is genuine, it is not harmless and can aggravate or cause infertility in either sex.

Tests

If you are monitoring your testosterone levels, your blood work will most likely be scheduled for the morning.

There are two types of testosterone in your blood:

  • Free testosterone (also known as free testosterone) is testosterone that is not chemically related to anything else.
  • Bound testosterone makes up the majority of total testosterone levels. About 98% of testosterone in the blood is bound to one of two proteins: albumin or sex hormone transport globulin (SHBG).

When monitoring your testosterone levels, your doctor will look at both your free testosterone levels and your total testosterone levels .

Your total testosterone levels include free and bound testosterone.

Overall testosterone levels change throughout the day. Cis men under 45 have highest levels in the morning and lowest at night. If you are 45 or older, it does not matter what time of day the levels are checked .

Normal testosterone levels depend in part on the laboratory and the doctor's interpretation. With that said, here are some common values.

For a designated male age 19 or older:

  • Total testosterone should be between 270-1070-950 nanograms per deciliter (ng / dl).
  • Free testosterone levels should be between 50-210 pg / dl picograms per deciliter (pg / dl).

For designated ages 19 and older:

  • Total testosterone should be within   15-70 ng / dL
  • Free testosterone levels should be between 1.0-8.5 pg / dL .

Testosterone function

Sperm development : Testosterone is necessary for the production of sperm in the testes. However, this is a delicate balance. Both too little and too little testosterone can cause a decrease in sperm count .

Associated with so-called secondary male characteristics: these include growth of facial and body hair, reduction of voice, muscle development, increased bone size, and distribution of body fat.

Babies have the same testosterone levels. It is not until puberty that cisgender boys begin to produce significantly higher levels of testosterone, leading to the development of secondary sexual characteristics associated with men.

Those who are assigned at birth to a woman with abnormally high levels of testosterone may have problems with facial hair, male pattern baldness, and infertility. High testosterone levels have also been associated with acne in all genders .

Essential for the development of eggs in the ovaries: Androgens play an important role in the development of ovarian follicles and the production of estrogens .

Sex drive (libido) – The link between testosterone and sex drive is well established. Higher levels of testosterone lead to higher levels of sexual appetite.

Muscle Building – Cisgender men are more likely to build muscle mass than cis women due to their higher levels of testosterone.

Pain tolerance : Testosterone can help people regulate pain levels.

Learning and memory, especially spatial intelligence : Testosterone aids in learning and memory. This is especially related to spatial intelligence.

Cis men with abnormally low testosterone levels are at risk for learning disabilities.

Cognitive empathy: Cognitive empathy includes the ability to read another person's emotions through their body language and facial expressions, especially changes in the eyes.

Higher levels of testosterone are associated with a decrease in people's reading ability.

However, a new study from the University of Toronto, published in September 2019, found that giving men testosterone did not decrease their empathy.

Diseases and disorders that affect testosterone levels

When testosterone levels are abnormally low or high, it affects a person's overall health and well-being. This is true for all genders. What can cause abnormal testosterone levels?

In cis men, possible causes of low testosterone include:

  • Age (after 50)
  • Being underweight or overweight
  • Of smoking
  • A congenital or chromosomal disorder such as Klinefelter syndrome (XXY) or Kallman syndrome.
  • Pituitary gland problems
  • Testicular disease
  • Abnormally high iron levels
  • Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.
  • Serious illness or surgery
  • Certain medications and recreational drugs.
  • Extremely high stress levels

In cis men, possible causes of abnormally high testosterone levels include:

  • Tumors of the adrenal glands or testicles.
  • Anabolic steroid abuse
  • Testosterone Supplements
  • Physical contact with someone taking a topical testosterone supplement.

In cis women, possible causes of high testosterone levels include:

In cis women, the most common cause of low testosterone is menopause .

Get the word of drug information

Testosterone is an important hormone for everyone. If your levels are abnormal, your doctor will likely order additional tests to find out the cause. For those with low levels due to normal aging, testosterone supplementation may be considered.

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