Your guide to what testosterone is and what it does for your body

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Bulging musclesa hungry sex driveAnd super strength Probably what comes to mind when you think about it Testosterone. And it plays a role in those things. But testosterone does many things for the body, and not everyone knows much about what testosterone actually is.

Testosterone A hormone produced primarily in the testicles, and it is the main sex hormone for people assigned male at birth.

“It is involved in many natural processes in the body and helps maintain muscle mass, Bone mineral density, sperm productionred blood cell production, and the sex drive,” says Darshan Patel, MDDr. Assistant Professor of Urology University of California San DiegoMen’s Health Center.

Normal testosterone levels vary, depending on your age, size, overall health, and time of day. A blood or saliva test can measure your testosterone, and doctors recommend testosterone replacement therapy if your levels are too low, Dr. Patel says.

If your testosterone is too high or very littleYou will experience a range of symptoms, e.g Erectile dysfunctionlow energy, feeling depressed, acneand irritability.

Some men whose testosterone levels are perfectly normal mistakenly think that extra testosterone is good and take extra testosterone to boost their levels. Ryan Smith, MDAssociate Professor of Urology and Specialist in Men’s Health in Urologic Microsurgery Virginia Health University. Dr. “Many men want to drive levels higher and higher, thinking it will make them feel better, and usually, it doesn’t,” says Dr. Smith. Smith says.

Here’s what you need to know Main Functions of Testosterone And what can affect your T levels.

What is the main function of testosterone for men?

Testosterone is an essential hormone that performs many functions throughout life for men during fetal development, puberty, and adulthood. According to this Harvard Medical SchoolTestosterone plays an important role in:

  • Development of the penis and testicles
  • The voice deepens during adolescence
  • Development of facial and pubic hair during puberty
  • Strength and muscle growth
  • Bone growth and strength
  • sex drive
  • sperm production
  • Production of new red blood cells

Women also produce testosterone in the ovaries, but men have higher levels of the hormone. Most of the testosterone produced by women is converted to the female sex hormone estradiol, Cleveland Clinic.

What Testosterone Doesn’t Do

The hormone is important for developing characteristic male traits, such as facial hair and muscle development, but high levels aren’t always good, Dr. Smith says. Some men with normal testosterone levels can use (and abuse) Anabolic steroids, which is essentially synthetic testosterone, to increase their level or fitness performance. Anabolic Steroid abuse This can lead to side effects, such as decreased sperm count, baldness, and an increased risk for prostate cancer, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

While testosterone plays a role in sperm production, actually supplementing with testosterone decreases It can affect sperm production and fertility, says Dr Patel. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor before using testosterone therapies.

Testosterone also does not cure erectile dysfunction, explains Dr. Patel. Low testosterone can be a contributor to ED, but for most men, erectile dysfunction is related to changes in how the body responds to, distributes, and keeps enough blood in the penis.

Can testosterone levels be too high or too low?

It is natural for your testosterone levels to fluctuate throughout the day. It usually peaks in the morning and falls throughout the day.

Doctors usually test your T levels in the morning and do a second test to make sure someone’s level is normal, says Dr. Patel.

It’s possible for your testosterone to be too low or too high—each end of the spectrum brings its own set of symptoms.

It indicates that your testosterone is too low

There are several symptoms that are directly linked to testosterone deficiency, according to American Urological Associationincluding:

  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Body and facial hair loss
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • tiredness
  • obesity
  • sad mood

Some people may also have low energy, memory problems, and trouble concentrating.

Indicates that your testosterone is too high

It is rare for men to have naturally high levels of testosterone. But your levels may rise if you have a testicular tumor (and, if you take large doses of anabolic steroids). According to this HarvardSigns that your testosterone is too high include:

  • Low sperm count
  • acne
  • Weight gain
  • Liquidity retention
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Increases muscle mass
  • headache
  • An enlarged prostate
  • Insomnia

Abnormally high testosterone can increase your risk for heart attack, liver disease, and high blood pressure and cholesterol.

What affects testosterone levels?

Many factors can affect your testosterone levels and cause them to decrease, Dr. Patel says. These include:

  • old age
  • obesity
  • bad sleep
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Thyroid problems
  • Diabetes
  • Medications, such as opioids, steroids, or antidepressants
  • Chemotherapy
  • conditions, such as HIV/AIDS
  • Damage (or removal) to the testicles
  • Undescended testicles

High testosterone can be caused by taking steroids or using testosterone replacement therapy without a doctor’s supervision. Testicular or adrenal tumors can produce excess testosterone.

When to See a Doctor About Your Testosterone Levels

Any time you are concerned about your sex drive or your ability to get an erection, or if you feel tired or low all the time (or if you have any of the symptoms listed above), you should talk to your primary care physician.

It can be embarrassing to talk about these problems, but the treatment is available to help. Your doctor will usually refer you to a urologist for testing.

“This may initially include testing your testosterone levels (at least twice) and, if indicated, a discussion of the risks and benefits of testosterone therapy, along with other conservative treatments,” says Dr. Patel.

Erica Sweeney is a writer who often covers health, wellness and careers. He has written for The New York Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Parade, Money, Business Insider and many others.

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