Written By Sola Ogundipe - Nigeria
Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone that defines maleness. It is the one that literally makes the male "engine" run. Throughout life, testosterone plays important roles in male development and health, which begins before birth and extends throughout life.
The testicles are the primary site of testosterone production. Without testosterone, a man would not be able to function as a man in the real sense. He would be unable to produce sperms, would have no sex drive, and have abnormal fat distribution. His bone density would be less, his red blood cell production and maintenance of muscle mass would be affected.
The skin, musculoskeletal system, genitourinary system, cardiovascular system and nervous system are all directly influenced by this most important hormone which deficiencies and excesses can cause significant health concerns.For men, as we age, our testosterone levels naturally decrease. In some men, this decrease can trigger a wide range of physical and emotional effects.
Men reach peak testosterone levels in their teens or 20s, by the time a man is 30, the amount of testosterone in his body will begin to decline, with a roughly 1 percent drop each year. After age 50, his rate of testosterone loss increases and by the time he is 80, his testosterone levels might be only 20 percent to 50 percent of those experienced at his peak.
Testosterone acts in multiple ways on blood vessels, so this may account for the varying effects.A certain amount of testosterone may be necessary for healthy arteries because it's converted into oestrogen, which protects arteries from damage.
Decreased testosterone levels might have no effect on general health, but some men with low testosterone experience one or more of an array of symptoms, including sleep disturbances, loss of motivation or self-confidence, depression, decreased sexual desire, infertility, decreases in memory or concentration, decreased bone density, increased fat levels and loss of muscle tissue and strength.
Some of these changes can occur naturally as part of the aging process, without any link to lowered testosterone. Additional factors that might account for some of these symptoms include excessive use of alcohol, thyroid gland dysfunction and medication side effects.In some cases, doctors have difficulty in accurately diagnosing low testosterone, but an established decline, is connected to insulin resistance, obesity, and diabetes. Each of these problems increases cardiovascular risk.
Low testosterone often exists with other medical conditions. In depression, men with the lowest testosterone levels are more than twice as likely to be depressed. This link remained even after allowing for age, general health, obesity, and other variables.
Problems with erections, (Erectile Dysfunction) are perhaps one of the most common symptoms of low testosterone. However, most ED is caused by artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Men with risk factors for atherosclerosis - diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or obesity - often have low testosterone, too.
The effects of testosterone on blood pressure are many and complex. Men with high blood pressure may be almost twice as likely to have low testosterone as men with normal blood pressure. On the other hand, too much testosterone can increase bloodpressure.
A link betweendiabetesand low testosterone is well established. Men with diabetes are more likely to have low testosterone. And men with low testosterone are more likely to later develop diabetes. Testosterone helps the body's tissues take up moreblood sugarin response toinsulin. Men with low testosterone more often haveinsulin resistance: they need to produce moreinsulinto keep blood sugar normal.
Scientists aren't sure whether diabetes causes low testosterone, or the other way around. More research is needed, but short-term studies showtestosterone replacementmay improveblood sugar levelsand obesity in men with low testosterone.Obesity and low testosterone are tightly linked. Obese men are more likely to have low testosterone. Men with very low testosterone are also more likely to become obese.