What You Need To Know About Testosterone
When your testosterone levels are balanced, you feel healthy, energized, and focused.
Testosterone, also called T, gets a bad rap. While some people associate the hormone with hyper-macho behavior and anger management issues, testosterone performs many critical functions in a guy’s body. And the bad behavior stereotype isn’t exactly accurate since healthy testosterone levels help regulate your mood –– when your hormone levels are balanced.
Testosterone is the primary male hormone that creates sex characteristics such as facial hair and lean muscle mass, and it’s mostly made in the testes –– though women also make small amounts of testosterone. Testosterone fuels your sex drive, deepens the voice during puberty, and plays a key role in sperm production.
Hormones are essentially chemical messengers that communicate with the body’s tissues to produce certain changes. Testosterone is a type of hormone called an androgen, and androgens are crucial for sexual health and reproductive function. Hormones regulate reproduction, growth during the teen years, and overall health and well-being. When your testosterone levels are balanced, you feel healthy, energized, and focused. Let’s take a look at how testosterone affects your health throughout life and what to be aware of if your levels dip too low.
Teens + Testosterone
Testosterone first appears in a male fetus just seven weeks after conception and begins to form the genitals. Testosterone levels rise during puberty and dramatically increase during the teenage years. For a male teenager, testosterone creates secondary sex characteristics that transform a boy’s body into a man’s.
Testosterone In Men
Testosterone levels in men start to level off in the 20s. After puberty, testosterone helps regulate red blood cell production, muscle strength and mass, sex drive, sperm production, and fat distribution throughout a guy’s body.
A gradual drop in testosterone is considered a natural part of aging, and men after the age of 45 usually experience about a one percent drop in testosterone per year as they get older.
What About Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone in teens can hinder or slow the development of male secondary sex characteristics. Signs of low testosterone in adult men can include low sex drive, weight gain, mood imbalances, poor concentration, and loss of facial hair among other symptoms.
There are different reasons why testosterone levels can drop below normal. Health conditions such as kidney disease, autoimmune conditions, and alcoholism can cause testosterone levels to dip, as can treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Prescribed testosterone supplements can help normalize your levels if your T levels get too low.
Any disease that affects the testes or pituitary and hypothalamus glands (which control how much testosterone the testes produce and secrete) can disrupt testosterone levels. Getting your T levels checked is as simple as getting a blood test, so if you suspect that your testosterone levels might be off, check in with your doctor –– but know that testosterone levels can ebb and flow throughout the day. If symptoms are present and you have questions about your hormonal health, a good provider may help shed light on the best course of action for you.
If you’re wondering how to increase testosterone levels naturally, the following can help:
- Get plenty of high-quality sleep every night
- Eat a healthy diet and minimize processed foods
- Lift weights, do bodyweight workouts, and exercise
- Take a good vitamin D supplement
- Manage stress with deep breathing or meditation
- Minimize exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA)
Lifestyle factors play an important role in maintaining your overall health while keeping hormone levels balanced. A poor diet, sedentary habits, and exposure to estrogen-like chemicals found in plastics and BPA can all ill-affect your testosterone.
While some testosterone-disrupting health conditions require medical care, there’s also a lot you can do to take care of your health on your terms. Eat well, sleep well, work out, and maintain an active sex life for optimal health and testosterone support.
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