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What Processes Does Testosterone Regulate?

What Processes Does Testosterone Regulate?

By Mike Kocsis | 7 minutes read | Last updated: April 26, 2024
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

    Evidence Based Research

    Testosterone contributes to several physiological processes in both male and female bodies. This powerful hormone acts as a key regulator for various bodily functions from shaping secondary sexual characteristics during puberty to maintaining muscle mass and cognitive function throughout adulthood. 

    In this article, we delve into the processes that testosterone regulates throughout the body, highlighting its effect on the physical, cognitive and sexual aspects of human physiology. 

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    What is Testosterone?

    Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men, crucial for the development of male growth and masculine traits. Its production is regulated by signals sent from the brain to the pituitary gland, which in turn stimulates the testes to produce testosterone. This process operates within a feedback loop, ensuring that hormone levels in the bloodstream remain balanced. If testosterone levels become too high or low, the brain signals the pituitary gland to increase or decrease production, maintaining hormonal balance. Take a look at what testosterone is then used for below.

     

     

    What Does Testosterone Do?

     

     

     

    Male Sex Organs

    Development of the male sex organs, including the growth of the penis and testes, begins in the womb and is primarily driven by testosterone levels. Testosterone also causes the growth of the prostate gland. The development of male sex characteristics becomes more prominent during puberty. Testosterone is also responsible for continuously producing sperm and controlling sperm levels throughout adult life. As such, a lack of testosterone can cause reduced libido, impotence, and even infertility.

     

    Secondary Sexual Characteristics

    In addition to male reproductive organs, testosterone is a key factor in the development of secondary sexual characteristics during puberty. Indeed, too much testosterone can cause puberty to begin early. Secondary sexual characteristics include the growth of the Adam’s Apple, deepening of the voice, as well as increased height and muscle mass (in turn leading to greater physical strength). By contrast, lower testosterone can lead to increased body fat.

     

    Libido

    Testosterone also has an effect on the sex drive, starting during puberty and continuing throughout adulthood. It increases sexual arousal, with higher levels in men being associated with higher levels of sexual activity and more frequent erections. Testosterone also impacts the female libido as well.

     

    Facial and Body Hair

    Higher levels of testosterone are associated with more and thicker hair, including facial hair such as beards and moustaches. Hair may also grow in other parts of the body, such as in the armpits and the chest. Women with higher levels of testosterone may also see increased facial hair growth. Conversely, testosterone can also contribute to baldness and the loss of hair on the scalp in women. Similarly, low testosterone levels in men can cause baldness and hair loss.

     

    Skin

    Testosterone plays a crucial role in maintaining the skin’s health, appearance, and function. It contributes to the production of skin oils (sebum) by the sebaceous glands, which helps moisturise and protect the skin barrier. Testosterone also contributes to collagen synthesis, a protein essential for skin elasticity and firmness. 

    Hormonal imbalance can cause excessive sebum production and can cause conditions like acne. Similarly, it can lower your collagen production leading to premature wrinkles. 

     

    Behaviour

    Increased competitiveness, aggression and confidence are associated with higher levels of testosterone but are not always direct causes. What we know for sure is that testosterone levels can have an impact on memory, mood and attention span. These changes can become apparent with puberty and continue into adult life. A lack of testosterone can lead to depression and fatigue.

    Cognition

    Low T is known to reduce your level of productivity, concentration and memory and make you unable to do certain tasks that you used to enjoy. Many scientific studies support the idea that low levels of testosterone negatively impacts your brain health.

     

    According to research, low T in men increases their risk of the development of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related dementia.

    The research was conducted on 153 older Chinese men by scientists at the University of Hong Kong. Their cognitive function was tested at the beginning of the study. 47 of the total men were reported to have mild cognitive impairment.

    In a years time, 10 out of 153 men developed Alzheimer’s disease. These 10 men were from the group of 47 men who were initially reported to have poor cognitive function. Their testosterone levels were also reported to be low.

     

    Bone Density

    Testosterone can help maintain higher bone density throughout life, which in turn lowers the possibility of developing osteoporosis or fracturing/breaking a bone. As testosterone levels decrease with age, this is one reason why older people may have lower bone density.

     

    Red Blood Cell Production

    Another effect of testosterone is that it indicates to the rest of the body (particularly the bone marrow) when new red blood cells need to be produced. Red blood cells are vital to transport oxygen around the body. They are the most common type of cell in humans.

     

    What Happens When You Don’t Produce Enough Testosterone?

    If your testosterone levels are deficient during the fetal stages of development, male characteristics may not fully develop. Similarly, during puberty, insufficient testosterone can delay pubic hair growth, deepening of the voice, and the development of the penis and testes. Low-T males going through puberty male also experience reduced muscle mass and endurance, with disproportionate limb growth.

    In adult men, low testosterone can cause the following symptoms:

    While mood disturbances, increased body fat, and sexual dysfunction are common symptoms of low testosterone, they affect a minority portion of ageing men. The American Urological Association report that about 2 in every 100 men have low testosterone. Nonetheless, ongoing research aims to explore the potential benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and its effects on ageing men’s health, including research into the role of testosterone on concentration, memory, and sleep difficulties.

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    To Takeaway

    There are many processes that testosterone regulates. that’s why the symptoms that quickly arise when you’re not producing enough are so noticeable. Luckily, there are treatments like Testosterone Replacement Therapy(TRT) available to help keep those symptoms at bay. If you feel you may have low testosterone, get in contact with one of our specialist doctors to discuss your options today!

     

     

    References/Bibliography/Scientific studies/Further reading

    Low testosterone linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Science Daily 2010. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101005171202.htm

    Testosterone: What it is and how it affects your health. Harvard Health Publishing 2023. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/testosterone–what-it-does-and-doesnt-do

    What are the symptoms of low testosterone, and how to increase it. Medical News Today 2024. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322647#:~:text=The%20American%20Urological%20Association%20defines,100%20men%20have%20low%20testosterone.

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    Evidence Based Research

    This article has been researched and written based on scientific evidence and fact sheets that have then been crossed checked by our team of doctors and subject matter experts.

    References, sources and studies used alongside our own in-house research have been cited below, most of which contain external clickable links to reviewed scientific paper that contain date stamped evidence.

    Our team of healthcare experts and GMC registered doctors are licensed to UK GMC standards. We strive to provide you with the latest evidence based, researched articles that are unbiased, honest and provide you with accurate insights, statistics and helpful information on the discussed topic to ensure you gain a better understanding of the subject. You can read more about our Editorial Process by clicking here.

    We value your feedback on our articles, if you have a well-researched paper you would like to share with us please contact us.

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    About the Author: Mike Kocsis

    Mike KocsisMike Kocsis has an MBA with a focus on healthcare administration and is an entrepreneur and medical case manager for Balance My Hormones Ltd which offers medical services in the UK and Europe. Mike has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare sector, much of that working with people who have hormone imbalances. Mike has appeared on podcasts and radio and is an expert speaker on the subject of hormone imbalance. He specialises in Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and has helped thousands of people suffering from hormone imbalances recover and regain control of their lives. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on the Balance My Hormones YouTube Channel.

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