What is Testosterone?

6 minutes

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone found in men and is responsible for androgenic effects and anabolic effects (growth of tissues). It is also found in women but in less quantity. Women’s ovaries produce testosterone in a smaller amount. While in men, the testicles primarily make testosterone. 

The production of the hormones starts to increase significantly as one hits puberty and starts to dip after the age of 30. Testosterone is also available as a prescription medicine to help treat male hypogonadism and symptoms of low testosterone levels. The symptoms of a low Testosterone level may include low energy, sexual dysfunction, and the loss of a few key male characteristics.

Usually, A healthy man produces about 5 mg of testosterone on a daily basis. Testosterone serves as a circulating prohormone for a more active androgen called dihydrotestosterone. Testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone in most tissues that are sensitive to androgens, including the testes, prostate gland, hair follicles, and muscles. Although testosterone itself has androgenic actions, its conversion to dihydrotestosterone is critical to the development of external genitalia in boys.

Role of Testosterone

Testosterone is majorly associated with sex drive and plays a vital role in sperm production. It also affects our bones, muscles, and red blood cell production. The testosterone levels can also affect mood in men.

On average, the testosterone levels of men are seven to eight times greater than women. Because of this, we’ll typically carry more muscle mass, speak with deeper voices, have higher bone density, and grow thick hair on our faces. Men are also likely to be naturally stronger than their female counterparts too.

There are a lot of things that get affected by testosterone levels in the body. They include

  • Development of reproductive tissue
  • Muscle mass
  • Muscle growth
  • Bone density
  • Growth of body hair
  • Sperm development
  • Libido
  • Sexual performance
  • Cognitive function and mental clarity
  • Red blood cell production
  • Assertiveness
  • Overall wellbeing

As testosterone is required for so many bodily functions, it is considered to be a general promoter of overall health and well-being and has been described by The National Institutes of Health as the most important hormone in men.

Role of Testosterone in Women

If you think that testosterone is only important in men you are wrong, it plays an important role in women’s health. In women, testosterone is produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands, fat cells, and skin cells. Testosterone helps women in 

  1.  Maintaining Bone Health.
  2.  Increase Sex Drive.
  3.  Maintain Vaginal and Menstrual health.
  4. Development of bones and breast.
  5. Fertility.

In the female, the testosterone produced in excess is converted into female sex hormones.

Levels of testosterone in Men and Women

Recent guidelines from the American Urological Association (AUA), show that the normal levels of testosterone in men is 300 at least 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) and in the female, it is between 8 to 60 ng/dL according to Mayo Clinic Labs.

But the levels of testosterone also depends on the age of both the genders. Let’s see the normal levels of testosterone according to age in both the genders:

Infants and Children Testosterone Levels

AgeMale (in ng/dl)Female (in ng/dl)
0 to 5 months75-40020-80
6 months to 9 yearsLess than 7-20Less than 7-20
10 to 11 yearsLess than 7-130Less than 7-44

Testosterone levels in Adolescents

AgeMale (in ng/dl)Female (in ng/dl)
12 to 13 yearsLess than 7-800Less than 7-75
14 yearsLess than 7-1,200Less than 7-75
15 to 16 years100-1,200Less than 7-75

Testosterone levels in Adults

AgeMale (in ng/dl)Female (in ng/dl)
17 to 18 years300-1,20020-75
19 years and older240-9508-60

The levels of testosterone are also measured according to the tanner stage.

The tanner scale has the five stages and it records the various functionalities of testosterone and visualizes the development of children during puberty.

According to the Tanner scale, healthy testosterone levels are as follows:

Tanner stageMale (in ng/dl)Female (in ng/dl)
ILess than 7-20Less than 7-20
II8-66Less than 7-47

As we already discussed the normal levels of testosterone in men are 300 ng/dl and 8-60 ng/dl, anything lower than these levels 300ng/dl in men and 8ng/dl in women are considered as Low Testosterone or Low T. The low levels of testosterone can be treated by talking to your physician.

Low levels of Testosterone

Low levels of testosterone can cause adverse effects that include reduced lean mass and an increase in body fat can make working out unenjoyable. Plus, when he gets home, a man with low testosterone might feel self-conscious about his physique.

It should go without saying that a decline in sexual prowess can cause mental distress too. Erectile dysfunction and lack of libido are just two side effects of low testosterone; something that could make maintaining relationships a struggle. Decreased sperm quality may also put a hold on starting a family.

Sadly, there’s also a link between low testosterone and depression. However, scientists aren’t yet sure if it’s low-T that causes depression, or the other way around. Either way, finding hormonal balance can help combat symptoms of mental illness in most men.

Causes of low-level testosterone

  • Abusing alcohol alongside narcotic drugs
  • Stress
  • Testicular surgery, like castration
  • Testicle infection
  • Certain medications
  • Pituitary tumors or high prolactin levels
  • Chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, obesity, and HIV/AIDS
  • Genetic diseases like Klinefelter syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, hemochromatosis, Kallman syndrome, and myotonic dystrophy.

Benefits of Testosterone

Testosterone fights depression

If you’ve been battling the black dog of depression, it may be because of low testosterone levels. Researchers have found that men suffering from depression typically have deficient testosterone levels.

Testosterone decreases body fat 

Testosterone plays an important role in regulating insulin, glucose, and fat metabolism. As our T levels decrease, our body’s ability to regulate insulin, glucose, and fat metabolism decreases, which in turn causes adipose tissue (i.e. fat) to begin accumulating.

Testosterone increases muscle mass 

We all know about testosterone’s ability to increase muscle mass and strength. It works its muscle-building magic by increasing muscle protein synthesis.

Testosterone strengthens bones

You may have thought of osteoporosis as a health problem that only women have to worry about, but men can suffer from this bone-weakening disease too. And low testosterone levels may be to blame. Testosterone has been shown to play an important role in bone health. It increases bone density by stimulating bone mineralization as well as decreases bone resorption.

Testosterone increases libido and improves erections 

Testosterone is a sex hormone, so it’s not surprising that low libido and erectile dysfunction are two of the first signs of low T that men notice. If you’ve noticed a sharp decrease in your interest in sex, you might have low testosterone.