Low Testosterone: Facts and Myths - 9/8/2014

  • By Dr. Anand Thakkar
  • 16 Mar, 2016
"Testosterone Deficiency is No Laughing Matter." - Anand Thakkar, M.D.

When you think of testosterone, what comes to mind? Macho men? Aggressive, violent behavior? There's more to testosterone than guys behaving badly.

Testosterone's role in bad behavior is largely a myth. What's more, testosterone plays other important roles in health and disease that may surprise you. For example, did you know that testosterone is a key player in prostate cancer? Or, that women need testosterone, too?

The latest research suggests that guys without enough of the hormone face a higher risk of several serious illnesses including: diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. A simple blood test can reveal whether a guy has low "T," but there are plenty of other clues that a problem exists, as you will learn.

The Role of Testosterone

Testosterone is the major sex hormone in males and plays a number of important roles, such as:

Development of the penis and testes
Deepening of the voice during puberty
Appearance of facial and pubic hair starting at puberty; later in life, it may play a role in balding
Muscle size and strength
Bone growth and strength
Sex drive (libido)
Sperm production
Testosterone may also help maintain a normal, balanced mood. There may be other important functions of this hormone that have not yet been discovered.

Signals sent from the brain to the pituitary gland at the base of the brain control the production of testosterone in men. The pituitary gland then relays signals to the testes to producetestosterone. A "feedback loop" closely regulates the amount of hormone in the blood. When testosterone levels rise too high, the brain sends signals to the pituitary to reduce production.

If you thought testosterone was only important in men, you'd be mistaken. Testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal gland. It's one of several androgens (male sex hormones) in females. These hormones are thought to have important effects on:

Ovarian function
Bone strength
Sexual behavior, including normal libido (although evidence is not conclusive)
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