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Why Do We Need Testosterone?

Why Do We Need Testosterone?

By Mike Kocsis | 7 minutes read | Last updated: August 24, 2023 |
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  • Medically Reviewed by Dr. George Touliatos

    Evidence Based Research

    When you hear the word testosterone, aggression, violence, and road rage might be the things that come to your mind. But do you know that the association between aggression and testosterone is largely a myth? Testosterone plays many important roles in both men and women and some may surprise you! For instance, it fortifies bones, increases muscle mass and is important for regular menstrual cycles in females. Testosterone is required for healthy body functioning. Producing too much or too little of it can influence your health in various ways.

    In this article, we will discuss why we need testosterone and what to do if you find your body doesn’t produce enough.

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    A hormone having multiple roles

    Testosterone is involved in various functions in the body, such as:

    Testosterone may also be involved in regulating mood. Its deficiency can make a man anxious and depressed. Similarly, adolescent boys may not develop secondary sexual characteristics if they have testosterone deficiency.

    Testosterone is produced by the testes and ovaries when they receive messages from the brain. A feedback loop controls the amount in the blood. When your testosterone levels are too high, your brain receives a message to reduce testosterone production.

    Hence, if your brain (particularly the hypothalamus and pituitary gland) and testes are not working normally, you may have too little or too much serum testosterone. Both conditions affect the body differently and may cause serious problems if not treated on time.

     

    Testosterone imbalance

    Testosterone levels fluctuate throughout a man’s level. They increase when men enter adolescence and start declining after age 30.

    Testosterone deficiency, also called hypogonadism, causes the following side effects in men.

    If this condition persists, a man may develop osteoporosis, infertility, and depression.

    High testosterone levels can trigger puberty in boys before it is the right time. Adults may experience the following symptoms if they have high testosterone levels.

    • Acne
    • High libido
    • Prostate enlargement
    • Headaches
    • Heart and liver problems
    • Mood swings

    Although women need only a small amount of testosterone (15 to 70 ng/dL) compared to men (300 to 1,000 ng/dL), they also experience symptoms when their testosterone levels become imbalanced.

    In women, high testosterone levels can cause:

    • Deepening of voice
    • Male pattern baldness
    • Facial and pubic hair growth

    When women produce too little testosterone, they may experience the following symptoms:

    • Low libido
    • Irregular menstrual cycles
    • Infertility
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of muscle and bone strength

    Testosterone imbalance can be due to an acquired or congenital disorder. If you want to fix your testosterone levels, you will first have to identify its actual cause.

     

    Ageing and testosterone levels

    Reduction in testosterone levels is a normal part of ageing. It is called late-onset hypogonadism.

    Studies indicate that testosterone levels decline by 1.6% in men after the age of 40. That is why around 4 in 10 men develop hypogonadism when they reach 45. Symptoms of late-onset hypogonadism are similar to ageing.

     

    How to tell you have low T?

    The first thing doctors check to diagnose low T is the patient’s symptoms. If you have been experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms, your doctor may ask you to have the following tests.

    • Total testosterone test: It informs you about your total testosterone (free and bound testosterone) levels.
    • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test: FSH is secreted by the pituitary gland and regulates testosterone production. Its deficiency indicates a pituitary gland problem.
    • Luteinising hormone (LH) test: LH is also secreted by the pituitary. Its deficiency may indicate you have healthy testes, but there is a problem with your pituitary gland.

    All these tests are like a simple blood test. Your doctor will get your blood sample and send it to a laboratory to examine its constituents.

    The total testosterone test is generally performed in the morning (between 8 to 10 am) because testosterone levels tend to be the highest then. Fasting is also recommended for it, as some foods can suppress testosterone production.

    This test is usually repeated at least twice to confirm your low T is not due to an external factor.

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    Causes of declining testosterone levels

    People can be born with low T or develop it over time. Causes of low T in men are:

    • Pituitary disease
    • Hypothalamic disease
    • Testicle damage or disease
    • Low thyroid function
    • Certain medication
    • Genetic conditions like Klinefelter’s syndrome or Kallman syndrome

    Women can have low T due to some of the following reasons.

    • Ovarian tumour
    • Adrenal tumour
    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
    • Congenital ovarian hyperplasia
    • Chemotherapy
    • Malnutrition

    After diagnosing low T, your doctor will work on identifying its cause. If poor lifestyle habits such as excessive alcohol consumption or weight gain have caused this issue, they will tell you to make certain lifestyle changes to increase your testosterone and improve the quality of your life.

    Doctors prescribe testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) to hypogonadal men who are unable to boost testosterone using natural methods.

     

    Fighting back against low T with TRT

    TRT is used to reverse the effects of low T in adult men, but it is unclear whether it will produce a similar effect in older men.

    It involves the administration of man-made testosterone in different ways, such as injections, creams, patches, or pellets. It is conducted under medical supervision and requires regular monitoring.

    Each form of TRT has a unique effect. You should discuss their pros, cons, administration method and cost with your doctor before you select one.

    When you start having testosterone, your doctor will ask you to visit them every now and then so they can evaluate your changing serum testosterone levels. They may increase or decrease your dose depending on the effects the treatment is producing.

     

    Benefits of TRT

    There are many advantages to increasing your testosterone levels. Some of these are:

    Increase muscle mass and reduce fat mass

    Testosterone increases muscle mass. When you increase your testosterone levels, your muscles develop and burn more calories, resulting in weight loss. Studies show men report increased muscle mass and decreased fat mass after starting TRT.

    Increase bone mineral density

    Testosterone can make your bones stronger by improving their density. It helps protect internal organs, support muscles, and increase athletic performance.

    Improve sexual health

    Men with high testosterone levels perform better during sexual activities. Increasing testosterone levels in hypogonadal men can improve their libido and treat erectile dysfunction (only if this condition is due to low T).

    Studies also prove the positive effect of TRT in improving sexual health.

    Better mental abilities

    Increasing testosterone levels can help men with low T improve their mathematical reasoning and verbal memory. It may also boost your processing speed and spatial memory.

    Improve mood

    Men with hypogonadism usually have a poor quality of life. They have mood swings and feel fatigued, depressed and irritable. Research suggests that taking testosterone can elevate mood, increase motivation, improve the sense of well-being, and reduce depression.

     

    When to talk to your doctor about TRT?

    If low testosterone levels are disturbing your life, you should visit your doctor to discuss the available treatment options.

    TRT has some side effects and can aggravate certain medical conditions, such as prostate or breast cancer. Doctors do not recommend it to men who have these conditions.

    Your doctor will prescribe you testosterone if you are the right TRT candidate. He will perform several tests to identify whether or not to give you testosterone.

     

    FAQs

    Is testosterone a steroid?

    Testosterone is a naturally occurring anabolic steroid. However, it can also be synthesised in labs and legally used for medical purposes when prescribed by doctors.

    Some people, particularly athletes, take steroids to boost their athletic performance and build muscles fast. It is important to note that taking steroids without a doctor’s prescription is illegal. You should not have testosterone if your serum testosterone level is normal as it can produce life-threatening effects.

     

    What are the side effects of TRT?

    People report the following TRT side effects:

    • Acne
    • Oily skin
    • Increase in breast size or breast tenderness
    • Low sperm count
    • Infertility
    • Increased urination
    • Fluid retention

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    Summary

    Testosterone is a male sex hormone involved in many processes, such as red blood cell formation, muscle development, proper body fat distribution, and sperm formation. Women also need it but in a smaller amount comparatively.

    Men with testosterone imbalance should seek medical assistance if their health is declining due to this problem. Discuss your medical history and symptoms with your doctor to identify the actual cause and start an effective treatment. Alternatively, click the contact button above to consult our specialist TRT doctors.

     

    References/Bibliography/Further reading/Scientific studies

    Isidori, A.M., Giannetta, E., Gianfrilli, D., Greco, E.A., Bonifacio, V., Aversa, A., Isidori, A., Fabbri, A. and Lenzi, A., 2005. Effects of testosterone on sexual function in men: Results of a meta‐analysis. Clinical endocrinology63(4), pp.381-394.

    Holland, J., Bandelow, S. and Hogervorst, E., 2011. Testosterone levels and cognition in elderly men: a review. Maturitas69(4), pp.322-337.

    Nassar, G.N. and Leslie, S.W., 2018. Physiology, testosterone.

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    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.

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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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