Understanding the Highs and Lows of Testosterone
There's more to testosterone than you might think. Did you know that women produce testosterone, too? Learn the essential roles of testosterone in the overall health of both men and women.
What Is Testosterone?Men and women need testosterone to develop and function normally. In men, testosterone is a major sex hormone produced primarily in the testicles. Women's ovaries and adrenal glands produce testosterone but in much smaller amounts.
It helps boost a woman's sex drive, build bone density and strengthen muscles. Women with high levels of testosterone may develop male pattern baldness, masculine features and infertility. Too little testosterone can trigger various symptoms, such as low libido, reduced bone strength and depression.
What Does Testosterone Do to a Man?Testosterone aids in normal male sexual development and functions, such as:
- Regulates sex drive and erections
- Stimulates bone growth and strength
- Determines fat distribution in the body
- Produces red blood cells and sperm
- Boosts energy and mood
- Develops male sex organs, such as the penis and testes and stimulates the body and facial hair growth. It may also play a role in baldness later in a man's life.
- Deepens voice during puberty
What Happens If Testosterone Is High in Males?
Having high testosterone levels is not a common complaint among men partly because normal testosterone production varies from one male to another. Additionally, blood levels of testosterone even change during the day.
Some of the most common problems associated with abnormally high testosterone levels in men include:
- Low sperm counts, shrinking of the testicles and impotence
- Heart muscle damage and increased risk of heart attack
- Prostate enlargement with difficulty urinating
- Liver disease
- Fluid retention with swelling of the legs and feet
- Weight gain due to increased appetite
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Stunted growth in adolescents
- Uncharacteristically aggressive behavior
- Mood swings, euphoria, irritability, impaired judgment or delusions
What Are the Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
Testosterone levels among males tend to naturally drop slowly at the age of 30 due to problems with glands in the brain that control hormone production, low thyroid function and various conditions and treatments. Some signs of low testosterone in men include:
- Low sex drive or erectile dysfunction
- Low sperm count
- Sleep disorders
- Decrease in muscle size and strength
- Bone loss
- Increase in body fat
- Trouble concentrating