We all know that the endocrine glands are responsible for the production of hormones in our bodies. Hormones replicate the function of bodily messengers. These hormones are vital to regulate and control the various cells and organs present inside the human body. Both males and females have hormones that are vital to their existence and functioning. However, the prevalence of some hormones is more significant in one particular gender than the other. For example, the male hormone testosterone. This article covers in brief testosterone, what is the normal range in which it should be present in the body and how it can be measured.
What Is Testosterone
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone that is responsible for the masculine traits of men. It can be defined as a steroid hormone as it comes from cholesterol. Primarily, the male testicles produce this hormone and a small portion is produced by the adrenal glands as well. The ovaries of women also produce small amounts of testosterone however is of less significance to them. Testosterone production surges during puberty in men and then sees a steady decrease in healthy adults until the age of 30. After 30 the levels start to dip and if the reduction falls in an acceptable range then it is normal and there is nothing to worry about. In some cases, the level falls significantly low that is where people need to practice caution and, in some cases, medical intervention is needed.
Although with age testosterone levels generally reduces, other factors also lead to a reduction in T levels, as they are alternatively referred to as. In men, these factors include injury to the testicles, radiation treatment taken for cancer, excessive stress, renal diseases, excessive consumption of alcohol, liver cirrhosis, AIDS, etc. Common signs of Low testosterone or T levels in men are as follows:
- A feeling of tiredness or lethargy
- Reduced interest in sex or no mood for sex
- Tendency to gain weight even when not eating a lot
- Feel low, moody, reclusive, and withdrawn
- Experience a lack of self-esteem
- Visible reduction in body hair
- Weakening of muscles
- Thinning of bones
- Feel irritable and angry easily
- Show signs of depression
- Some men experience erectile dysfunction
- Affects sperm production
In women, low T levels could arise from underlying diseases related to the adrenal, pituitary, or hypothalamus glands. Reduction in testosterone level in women could also be owing to menopause, if they suffer from anorexia nervosa, intake contraceptives, etc. Signs often crop up as a decreased interest in sex, cognitive issues, feelings of depression, and weakness in the bones.
Significance Of Testosterone in Men And Women
As mentioned above, testosterone is present in both men and women however the significance of its presence lays more in the former than in the latter. In men, this hormone is responsible for the male reproductive system development, prevents diseases like osteoporosis by strengthening the bones, improves sperm production, aids as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent, promotes the production of blood vessels, enhances muscle mass, gives men masculine traits like aids in beard growth, increases body hair, gives them a deep-masculine voice and is responsible for inducing sexual arousal. In women, this hormone is responsible, to some extent, for healthy sexual functioning, cognitive function, for stronger bones as well as promotes better ovarian function.
How Do Doctor’s Check For T Levels In The Body
Doctors who perform hormonal analysis always check the medical history of a patient before conducting tests and revealing results. Certain aspects that may interfere with test accuracy may include taking oral contraceptives, digoxin, certain barbiturates, medicines for prostate cancer, the existance of hypothyroidism, etc. In the case of testosterone, various methods can be adopted to check for its levels in a person. Some of them are:
- Through blood test – this involves the doctor conducting a physical test followed by drawing blood from your veins which will then be sent to the lab for analysis. Depending on the result additional tests may be performed.
- Through oral test – recently doctors have resorted to the saliva test to check for T levels. This method is new and not widespread. more research on the same is underway.
- Checking for total testosterone – if the initial blood test for T levels comes back with unfavorable results then doctors perform a total testosterone test to check for free or bioavailable testosterone which is more complicated in nature and digs deeper into the cause.
What Is Considered A Normal Testosterone Level
The levels of the hormone testosterone aids in providing vital information in the human body related to fertility, irregular periods, tumors of the testicles, etc. So, whenever one experiences one or more of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, it is good to get one’s T levels checked to ensure all is well within and to rule out the existence of any underlying health conditions. In men, if the range is between 270 – 1070ng/dL averaging at 679 ng/dL then doctors consider it normal. In case it is below this level or above, then it is generally considered as an imbalance and oftentimes not a reason to worry over it since after 30 it is normal for testosterone levels to decline. It is interesting to know that higher levels of testosterone in men regulate blood pressure, improves heart health, and regulates body weight. However, too much testosterone can be bad for men in the following ways:
- Increases chances for smoking
- Increases chances for alcoholic consumption
- Elevates risk factor in men where they likely feel inclined to pick fights, engage in unhealthy, dangerous sexual activities, etc.
In women, the normal range is considered between 15-70 ng/dL. The testosterone production by an average healthy adult male is 20 times more as compared to an average, healthy adult woman and this is perfectly normal which is also why testosterone is primarily considered as a male hormone.
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Frequency Of T Level Monitoring
It is important to know that testosterone levels vary from person to person. However, if significant signs of testosterone drop do crop up then it is good to find yourself a hormone expert who will guide you through this journey. They will not only help boost your testosterone levels but also ensure you carry out lifestyle changes that help you lead an improved quality of life. Hormones have a significant effect on not just our physical health but on our mental well-being as well so finding a doctor who you can visit without any second thoughts would be the first step to take. Discuss with your doctor your worries, concerns and don’t shy away from being transparent. Most doctors recommend follow-ups every 5 years. If the levels are too low then some doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy which can be administered in the form of injections, creams, gels, patches, etc. However, those with prostate cancer, breast cancer, having diseases of the kidney, liver, heart, etc should steer clear from hormone replacement therapy. Elderly men need not go for frequent visits to the doctor as age, after all, is a primary factor that leads to the reduction of this hormone, unless they experience extreme health inconveniences owing to the same.
Although testosterone is primarily known as the male sex hormone, the in-depth information provided above should give a clear picture of how keeping a check on it is beneficial in ways more than one. Do not ignore the obvious signs and seek professional help whenever sudden variations in mood, weight, or sexual activity are noticed. Your relationship with your doctor can to a great extent help you keep your stress and related woes at bay; achieving which will help you normalize your testosterone reading as well.