Sex is an important part of human life. It undeniably has so many wonderful importance- reproduction, source of happiness and pleasure, in fact as a source of exercise for some people and therapy. It has great impact on human psychological well being, mental and physical well being as well. Anything that actually affects an individual's sex life, could have a great impact on the quality of life of that individual.
And guys, testosterone is one of those things that affect an individual's sex life; as a result, is an issue of great concern. Testosterone levels have been very well associated with an individual's sex drive, energy level in general and even self esteem.
Recent research has linked testosterone levels and the environment in which men grow up. In this article, I focused on men's testosterone levels, I discussed only lightly on how testosterone levels affect women as well. I'm sure most of us would be wondering and asking two questions right now. Firstly, do women produce testosterone?. And secondly, how can the environment men grow up affect their testosterone levels? Don't worry guys, you would be finding out the answers to your questions as you read along. So let's go...
[Male anatomy. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Tsaitgaist. CC-BY-SA-3.0. Licensed]
This is the main sex hormone in males. It controls fertility, the mass of muscle, the general distribution of fat in the body as well as how red blood cells are produced in the body. When the testosterone levels get very low, I mean, very low to the level that it becomes unhealthy, it may lead to a condition called infertility or using a big word, hypogonadism (wow!!).
Fortunately, individuals that suffer from hypogonadism (infertility) can actually increase their levels of testosterone. In recent times, there has been great increase in the number of men suffering from infertility. It has been found that sales of testosterone supplements have increased almost more than five times in the last six years.
Testosterone brings about male secondary sexual characteristics. In general, hormones are chemicals sent to different parts of the body to bring about a necessary change in that part of the body. I know that this might be surprising to some people but in reality- females produce testosterone as well; although they produce it only in small quantity.
Basically, the testosterone controls the production of sperm. It also has other functions, which may include- the size of muscle, libido, the production of red blood cells, general body strength and energy. In females as well, the testosterone has a large impact on their sex drive, their body strength and the density of their bones.
Although, if the testosterone levels in women is high, such women start showing male characteristics . I'm sure you probably have seen at some point in life, a woman or girl who acts like a man, wearing men's clothes and showing male behavior. I personally remember a neighbor of mine some time ago, a woman, who had plenty facial hair and very little breast (Lol); honestly, this woman was very strong, aggressive and was almost always getting into fight with both men and women in that neighborhood. Hence guys, if you see such a woman, know that she's most likely having high levels of testosterone; and that's perhaps why she's that way.
[Chemical structure of testosterone. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Xasodfuih. CC-BY-SA-3.0. Licensed]
The brain as well as the pituitary gland control testosterone levels. Men with low testosterone may suffer erectile dysfunction, decline in sex drive, low sperm count, the cells in the breast may become swollen. If this condition of low testosterone levels continue, it may also cause the individual to start losing muscle mass, losing strength, losing body hair as well as it may lead to increase in body fat. If hypogonadism condition still continues much longer, hence becoming chronic, it may lead to mood changes, osteoporosis as well as shrinkage of the testicles.
Hypogonadism may be caused by some factors, which may include injury to the testicles, for example castration, testicular infections, poor medication, some problems that affect the hormones, for example pituitary tumor. Remember, I mentioned above that the pituitary gland as well as the brain control the levels of testosterone, hence, if there's any problem with either the brain or the pituitary gland, invariably the testosterone levels would be affected as well. Some other conditions may also lead to low testosterone levels such as obesity (keep fit guys!), type 2 diabetes, HIV/AIDS, as well as diseases of the kidney and liver.
On the other hand, high levels of testosterone may lead to very early puberty. In some cases, the individual may experience puberty at the age of ten. Just as I mentioned above, testosterone levels affects women as well, and when it's high, they also suffer some problems like deep voice (Lol!). One can only imagine a woman talking with very deep voice, it could be quite a scene (Lol!). Women with high levels of testosterone also experience menstrual irregularities, their clitoris may become enlarged, their body shape may change etc.
Research has it that there's a connection between testosterone levels in women and uterine fibroid. In which case, high levels of testosterone may lead to uterine fibroid. A blood test can be used to detect the levels of testosterone of an individual.
[Blood test for testosterone levels. Source: Pixabay. Author: Clker-Free-Vector. CCO Creative Commons. Licensed]
The relationship between testosterone levels and aging
Naturally, as a man grows older, his testosterone levels experience a decline. In recent times, there's been a lot of concern about the rate at which the levels of testosterone decline in men as they grow older. Note, the gradual reduction in the testosterone levels as men grow older is called late-onset hypogonadism.
Research has it that after men cross the age of forty, their testosterone levels drop in most cases. It's been estimated that out of every ten men, four of them would be having hypogonadism by the age of forty five years. Which is a 40% tendency that men would suffer from low testosterone levels when they get to forty five years of age.
There are some signs that may indicate that a man is suffering from late-onset hypogonadism, and these signs may include - reduced libido, depression, reduced erectile quality, decline in cognitive abilities, a reduction in the mass of muscle, a decline in energy and strength, reduced growth of hair around the body, decline in the bone mass, increase in fat in the abdominal region of the body.
Ageing men may also experience sexual dysfunction. It has also been found that late-onset hypogonadism is linked to heart diseases and other metabolic diseases. Now guys, the lowering of testosterone levels as men age is different from one man to another. But unfortunately, the number of men that are experiencing this hypogonadism have been increasing in recent times.
[Muscular man. Source: Pixabay. Author: DrSJS. CCO Creative Commons. Licensed]
I'm sure most of us know that in recent times, there's been an increase in life expectancy, and the reason is not so far fetched; as we all also probably know, in the past, when men used to fight with swords, bows and arrows, when there were no adequate health care and medications, men died a lot, easily and at younger age. Back then, not many men lived long enough to start experiencing late-onset hypogonadism.
Nowadays, many men live over sixty years of age; which is a wonderful thing, the only problem is as I mentioned above, they live long enough to start suffering late-onset hypogonadism, and that's probably why the problem has been gaining much attention in recent times.
There is a difference between treating infertility or hypogonadism that resulted from disease and those that resulted from late-onset hypogonadism in ageing men. There is what is called testosterone supplements. This is actually a medication given to men suffering from hypogonadism. It's been found to actually increase the levels of testosterone in men. But generally, it is advisable that it is used in the treatment of hypogonadism that has a known cause, and not to be used by older men suffering from late-onset hypogonadism.
There's also what is called testosterone replacement therapy; which is almost same as the testosterone supplement, in this case as well, testosterone is also given artificially to the men suffering from hypogonadism. And just the same as with testosterone supplement, it is only advisable to be used to treat conditions in which the individual's low levels of testosterone is affecting the general health and is not advisable for ageing men suffering from late-onset hypogonadism, as there are risk, such as making men that take this medication occasionally aggressive.
[Injectable testosterone supplement. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Schlonz. CC-PD-Mark. Licensed]
Let's discuss how the testosterone levels in men is heavily affected by the environment they grow up.
Recent research has it that men who grow up in very healthy surroundings have higher levels of testosterone in their later stages of life than men who grow up in unhealthy environments or unfavorable conditions; in which case, during their childhood , they had to fight against infectious diseases.
As I mentioned above, high levels of testosterone has its own risk. For example, high testosterone levels may lead to prostate cancer as well as prostate enlargement.
The research involved men that grew up in unfavorable environments and men that grew up in favorable surroundings; and had all they needed to grow up healthy.
The research found that the reason for this difference in testosterone levels was due to the fact that those men who grew up in unfavorable conditions used up much of their energy in fighting against infectious diseases instead of producing testosterone. It was found that as a result of their poor nutrition as well, they only had enough energy to fight against diseases and to survive at the detriment of testosterone production.
Men that have high levels of testosterone as well have a problem, as the hormone has been found to have some really negative impact on their overall health as they grow older. And as I have also mentioned above, high levels of testosterone is actually connected to higher levels of aggression.
On the other hand, low levels of testosterone is also no good; as I mentioned above as well, it may lead to hypogonadism (infertility), decline in body energy, diminished libido and may affect the individual's erection, hence causing erectile dysfunction.
The research found that men's levels of testosterone can be changeable when they are young, in their adolescence, and still remains changeable when they are nineteen years of age, but is very difficult to adjust when they grow older than nineteen years of age.
Hence, in their adult lives, their levels of testosterone can no longer be changed by their environment. For more information, feel free to check my references.
Hello guys, we've been able to understand that both high and low levels of testosterone have their problems. Hence, it is safer to have moderate levels of testosterone, not high and not low.
We've also been able to understand how the environment men grow up affect their levels of testosterone, as those men who grow up in healthy environments have higher levels of testosterone, and men who grow up in unhealthy surroundings have lower levels of testosterone; because of the energy they use up in fighting against infectious diseases at the detriment of testosterone production.
Thanks for reading!
All images used here are from free sources and liable for commercial use
all licensed under the Creative Commons.