What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone, which simply means its a chemical produced by one part of the body that acts somewhere else in the body, usually transported via the bloodstream. Both sexes produce Testosterone. At puberty Testosterone levels begin to rise; men more than women. Physical attributes in the male such as deep voice and hair production occur. In men, Testosterone is produced by the cells in the testes, and most of it is secreted into the bloodstream, traveling to locations as distant as the brain. Some Testosterone remains in the testicles themselves, helping produce an environment conducive to the production of mature sperm. Around the ages of 35-50, both men and women experience a natural decline in the levels of hormone production. So what does Testosterone mean for your body?
What Testosterone does in your body
Once Testosterone reaches its distant target organs, it may either function directly as testosterone itself or be altered by enzymes in those cells to become different hormones with different characteristics and functions. Testosterone is also converted by some tissues to the molecule Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT has three actions of great importance for men — the first is that it is necessary for proper development of the male genitalia during fetal life. The second is that it is primarily responsible for prostate growth, and the third is that its actions on the scalp are responsible for hair loss, or male pattern baldness. Testosterone is also an anabolic steroid. Anabolic steroids build up muscle bulk and strength. Testosterone acts on many organs and tissues in the body. It is critical for the production of sperm in the testicles, allows normal erections to take place, and has important actions on bone, muscle, the prostate, and the brain.
What does a low Testosterone level mean for your body
The testicles produce Testosterone and secrete it into the bloodstream so that it can travel throughout the body to exert its effects. Testosterone is a hormone produced under the control of luteinizing hormone (LH), which is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. Higher levels of LH lead to greater Testosterone production. LH release into the bloodstream is in turn stimulated by a hormone called LHRH that is produced by another area of the brain,the Hypothalamus. Basically, both the Hypothalamus and Pituitary recognize when Testosterone levels are high, which causes lower secretion of LHRH and LH; the T levels themselves become reduced when this happens. If a man has low T levels accompanied also by low LH levels, this means there is a problem with the Hypothalamus or Pituitary and testicles are not receiving a strong enough signal to produce adequate amounts of Testosterone. On the other hand, if T levels are low and LH levels are high, this means the problem is within the testicles, because the signal to produce Testosterone is abundant. Most commonly when Testosterone is low, particularly when it is due to aging, LH is actually within the normal range.
Symptoms of Low T
One of the symptoms of low T for men is extra weight in the midsection and fatty breast tissue. When your body has extra fat cells, the cells convert the Testosterone that is made in your testicles and convert it to Estrogen. Other symptoms of low T include sexual symptoms, such as low libido, difficulty achieving an orgasm and problems with erections. People with low T also suffer from a lack of energy, leaving men feeling depleted and irritable. Some men even experience difficulty “getting buff” even with an increased workout regimen due to decreased muscle mass, a sign of low T.
How to test for low T
The simplest way to test for low testosterone levels is to get a blood test, (total T or a free T test). However, if the blood does show low levels, this does not necessarily mean that treatment is needed. Doctors advise treatment for patients with a combination of characteristic symptoms or signs and a confirmatory blood test showing reduced levels of Testosterone in the blood. This goes with saying that in order for doctors to not withhold treatment, there has to be a condition that shows that there is a good chance that the patient will improve from the treatment. Doctors also recommend obtaining a bone density test in men with Testosterone deficiency. If the numbers are low, the test should be repeated every year to monitor changes.
Low T and Prostate Cancer
Although it has been widely believed for several decades that higher Testosterone levels are associated with Prostate Cancer risk, it turns out there is no scientific evidence that this is true. On the contrary, men are at increased risk for Prostate Cancer when they are older and their T levels have declined. Men never develop Prostate Cancer when they are young and their T levels are at their lifetime peak. New evidence suggests that low T, rather than high T, may be a risk for Prostate Cancer. This contradicts the widely believed notion that T therapy for a patient with Prostate Cancer would be like adding “fuel to the fire”. Specifically, average total T levels were not higher in the cancer group compared to men without cancer, and men with the highest T values were at no greater risk for later developing Prostate Cancer than men with the lowest T values.
Is the possibility of benefit greater than the risk
Since many of the symptoms of low T overlap with symptoms of aging, the problem of diagnosing becomes even greater. It is also important to notice that some symptoms can be treated individually with medication, such as a doctor prescribing Viagra to the patient to help maintain an erection. Or diagnosing someone with depression when the cause is really low T. To a certain extent, this is all true. There is no single symptom that absolutely, positively means that someone has low T. However, because low T can be so easily and successfully treated, it is imperative that men who have one or more characteristic symptoms undergo evaluation and testing to determine whether they have low T. nizoral cream price mercury drug philippines Note: This post has been heavily reliant on the work of Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, a urologist and associate clinical professor at Harvard Medical School. He is one of the leaders in Testosterone research and has written a book called “Testosterone for Life” detailing his knowledge and trials of Testosterone therapy. Dr. Morgentaler’s research has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, among others.
Feature, Matt McMillen WebMD. “Low Testosterone: How Do You Know When Levels Are Too Low?” WebMD. WebMD, 2012. Web. 01 July 2014.