Testosterone Series 1 - an Overview (Relevant to Both Men and Women)


In this series, I'd like to discuss the role of testosterone as part of a health management plan and go into some detail regarding the different questions/issues people may have regarding testosterone. In this first series, we will go over the basics of what testosterone is and can do. Over the coming few days/weeks/months, I will go into more detail regarding different aspects of testosterone replacement therapy, its potential problems including aromatisation, different forms available and the bioavailability, exercise and so on.

I intend to continue these series on different hormones and nutrition. Do keep your comments coming in (person/fb/blog) and let me know if you would like me to research and cover other topics.


Testosterone-vintage diagramme.jpg

Testosterone has a mixed reputation and with some thinking of it as the all singing and dancing “sex and muscle” hormone but others thinking of it as the “aggressive” hormone. Most images depicting testosterone usage tend to focus on these aspects (think “Hulk”).

 

So what is testosterone and what does it do in your body?

  • Testosterone is the male sex hormone that is at the bottom of the steroid hormonal synthesis pathway, starting with cholesterol at the top. This is significant, as will be made clear in future blog posts.
  • Testosterone is present, and hugely important in both men and women- remember it when libido levels dip in both men and women.
  • It declines with age, with a significant jump noted beyond the age of 40 for most men. Some will start the notice the effects of low testosterone much sooner, in their early 30s and some lucky men, will only notice it closer to their 50s.
  • It is usually first noticed when there’s a decline in libido- a classic case of “I like the idea of sex but the TV/computer/book seems more inviting”. This is for both men and women.
  • Others may have noticed it first when their exercise routine stops delivering the same results anymore. They now have a ‘roll’ around the middle that is hard to shift.
  • Others still may notice that their ability to party has declined (again preferring a quiet night in or out), their ability to cope at work decreases, home life feels like a drag.
  • Some find that their fuse is shorter; they get more anxious and worry more, have more frequent bouts of feeling down or even depression and most importantly, their “aggression” or more accurately the “go-getter” in them starts to flail.

Specifically testosterone:

  • increases the libido and sexual function in men and women
  • is responsible for male sexual characteristics including functions of the male sexual organs
  • increases muscle mass while decreasing fat mass
  • increase in strength and volume of muscle mass
  • increases production of red blood cells, which is the carrier of oxygen to all cells of the body
  • increases bone density alongside oestrogen (men have oestrogen too)
  • improves mood, anxiety, depression, and in normal physiological doses, improves aggression (despite its bad reputation for causing aggression)- an overall improved sense of well being.
  • sharper mind
  • thicker skin, increased sebum/oil production in skin, male-pattern of hair distribution

Low testosterone levels is debilitating and happens to all men and women with increase in age. Occasionally, it happens in younger men too, either due to various genetic or environmental factors or in post anabolic steroid therapy (to increase muscle mass in gyms) where their levels refuse to normalise after stopping the anabolic steroids. 

Optimised levels offers a lot of benefit to both sexes. This will be discussed in more detail over the coming series of blogs.