Testosterone is a “sex” hormone that both genders produce; however, in men it is produced at much higher levels. It is also a steroid hormone. In men, testosterone is mainly produced in the testicles. Women produce theirs mainly in the ovaries. Both genders also produce a small portion in the adrenal glands. Not only is it responsible for reproduction, bodily hair growth and sex drive, but it also provides energy and muscle mass.
The amount of testosterone in the blood is regulated by the pituitary gland. In men, when testosterone is low, the pituitary gland releases the luteinizing hormone (LH) as a signal to the testicles to produce more testosterone. In normal instances, LH is constant throughout the male blood stream. Abnormally high LH can affect a man’s ability to produce sperm.
Diet, alcohol consumption, injury, or congenital conditions can play a part in hormone levels. Low testosterone has been linked to low-energy levels. This can cause a vicious cycle. Fatigue and low-energy may mean that exercise is a low-priority; however, the less we exercise, the less energy we have. It is not uncommon for low levels to affect younger generations. What is not generally known is that men also go through “menopause”. Yes, it is true! However, instead of decreased estrogen levels, men experience decreased testosterone levels. The symptoms are very similar to what women experience during menopause. However, men are still able to reproduce.
While a health care professional should be the one to diagnose the symptoms, a simple blood test can identify if your body is producing the correct amount of hormones. A testosterone blood test can be used to assess various conditions, which include: fertility, sex drive, early puberty, abnormal menstrual cycles, osteoporosis, abnormal hair growth and effectiveness of medication in prostate cancer.
Many commercials have appeared as of late regarding natural testosterone supplements. This too would appear to be a form of hormone-replacement therapy. However, anyone seeking to increase their hormone levels should verify that their levels are low and consult with a physician prior to taking any supplements.
Written by Theresa B. Tannich, Special Projects, DirectLabs®, LLC 10/23/12.