If you haven’t read part 1 of our Hormone Series on Estrogen and Progesterone, please check it out.
Testosterone, which is the most recognizable androgen (male sex hormone), does much more for your health than many people initially think. This hormone is produced by men in the testicles and women, in lesser amounts, in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Even though testosterone is considered the male sex hormone, we all need it to develop well, function optimally, and live healthy.
I’ve written often about the benefits of testosterone and some of the highlights include: improves body composition and aesthetics, supports better skin, decreases fat, maintains muscle mass and metabolism, and has been shown to decrease the incidence of breast cancer and decrease breast cancer recurrence.
Testosterone production increases about 30 times more during adolescence and early adulthood. After early adulthood, it’s natural for levels to drop gradually. Your body will typically see a one percent decline each year after you reach 30 years old. As an example, by the time a woman is 40 years old, her levels of androgens have decreased by half.
The proper balance between testosterone and estrogen is important for the ovaries. Androgens are believed to play an important role in your mood and cognitive function.
Signs of Low Testosterone
- loss of bone density
- muscle weakness
- sexual function (including desire and satisfaction)
- weight gain
- depressed mood
- vaginal dryness and irregular menstrual cycles (women only)
What are the benefits of having optimal testosterone levels?
Testosterone has many beneficial anabolic, metabolic, and developmental properties for both men and women. Beyond addressing the signs of low testosterone above, this sex hormone supports better libido, a healthy heart, less fat, more muscle, stronger bones, better memory and mathematical reasoning, and improved mood. See more on these healthy benefits and medical studies showing the positive impacts of testosterone below.
Testosterone levels naturally rise in response to sexual arousal and activity. Men with higher levels of testosterone typically have greater sexual activity. Older men need more testosterone for libido and erectile function. Erectile dysfunction may be due to other conditions or medications other than low testosterone levels. Studies show that testosterone therapy can benefit your sexual health and performance. It also shows that there is a maximum level of testosterone before there’s no increased response.
In an analysis of 46 studies reporting testosterone therapy results in 8,480 women, the research team found the treatment had positive effects on desire and pleasure and reduced anxiety about sex.
Healthy heart and blood
A healthy heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, providing muscles and organs with the oxygen needed for peak performance. Testosterone helps red blood cell production through bone marrow. Low testosterone levels are linked to a variety of cardiovascular risks. A recent, large study of 83,000 men found that men whose testosterone levels returned to “normal” were 24 percent less likely to have a heart attack and 36 percent less likely to experience a stroke. For women, this study strongly suggests that testosterone and DHEA concentrations above the lowest quartile may be cardioprotective in postmenopausal women.
Less fat, more muscle
Testosterone is responsible for increased muscle mass. Leaner body mass helps control weight and increases energy. Studies report that treatment can decrease fat mass and increase muscle size and strength for those with low testosterone. Some people reported a change in lean body mass but no increase in strength. You’ll likely see the most benefits when you combine testosterone therapy with strength training and exercise.
Testosterone plays a huge role in bone mineral density. Strong bones help support your muscles and internal organs. Bone density decreases as you age and testosterone levels drop. This raises the risk of weak bones and osteoporosis. Research shows that bone density can increase with testosterone treatment. Clinical trials on the effect of testosterone on bone density found increases in spinal and hip bone density.
Better verbal memory, spatial abilities, and mathematical reasoning
Research shows that men with higher ratios of total testosterone have a reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. There’s also evidence for a strong correlation between testosterone and thinking abilities such as verbal memory and faster processing speed. Testosterone treatment for men 34 to 70 years old has shown an improvement in spatial memory. A study also found that higher testosterone levels in the plasma of premenopausal women were linked to better performance in mathematical and spatial-relations tasks.
Lower testosterone levels are associated with poorer quality of life. Some of the symptoms of low testosterone levels include depression, fatigue, and irritability. The effects of testosterone replacement therapy on mood can vary. Men with hypogonadism reported improved mood and well-being and reduced fatigue and irritability. Research suggests that this treatment may also be an effective anti-depressant treatment as studies have shown a decrease in depression symptoms.
Treatment options for low testosterone (Low T)
Many men and women are opting for testosterone replacement therapy and are seeing results! Testosterone comes as a prescription, so it requires a physician diagnosis, and is available in a variety of forms. There are testosterone pills, testosterone pellets, gels, creams, patches, injections, and a testosterone booster available, depending on your specific needs. You should speak with your healthcare provider to discuss the options and their benefits.
I suspect I may have low Testosterone. What should I do?
There’s a difference between having a “typical” level of testosterone and an optimal level. For many older individuals, your testosterone may be low, but falls into a typical/normal range for somebody your age.
You should talk to a trusted and experienced healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms and develop a treatment plan. For a limited time, we are offering free, no-obligation consultations to discuss your needs with a licensed and experienced physician. So, sign up for a consultation, or contact us to learn more.