Low testosterone production among men. Testosterone is a hormone found in both men and women. Men produce much larger amounts than women. In men, testosterone gives male body hair, deep voice and strong muscles. The correct amount of testosterone in the body keeps the sex drive at a normal level.
Testosterone is the most important male sex hormone and it is needed for normal reproductive and sexual function. Testosterone is important for the physical changes that happen during male puberty, such as development of the penis and testes, and for the features typical of adult men such as facial and body hair. Testosterone also acts on cells in the testes to make sperm.
When should low testosterone production in men be treated?
Patients, and especially men who have had testosterone production damaged by disease or treatment, will benefit from testosterone treatment. Testosterone treatment is recommended only for this patient group. But in other countries, you have a more liberal attitude towards such treatment. Read more about testosterone therapy
Also read: 14 Ways To Increase Your Testosterone Naturally
In a new study, researchers have tried to determine the effect of low testosterone levels on men’s health. 400 healthy volunteers participated in the ages of 20 to 50 years. They received a drug that will shut down the natural production of both testosterone and estrogen. Then, for a period of 16 weeks, they received varying doses of testosterone, placebo and anastrozole – to prevent testosterone from being converted into estradiol, a form of estrogen.
The study is published in the journal The New England Journal of Medicine. Reuters Health writes that the study comes at a time when testosterone supplements are widely marketed against men.
Also read: Sex, Training and Testosterone
The researchers write in their introduction that testosterone treatment has been prescribed to millions of people each year and that the number is increasing rapidly. The prescription sales of testosterone have increased by 500 percent in the US between 1993 and 2000 – leading to huge earnings among those who produce and sell the drugs. In most cases, the prescriptions are written to treat unspecific symptoms, such as fatigue or erectile dysfunction. In this study, researchers also wanted to look at the role of estrogen in human health.
Joel Finkelstein is one of the researchers behind the study. He tells Reuters Health that when men grow older, they usually change the hormone level. There is uncertainty about which men should be treated for low testosterone production, whether it is effective and if it is indeed safe.
This study attempts to find out how much testosterone is needed to have a good health and, in turn, may help when low testosterone levels are diagnosed and treated.
Also read: Symptoms of low testosterone levels in men
Impact on health
The researchers found that low levels of testosterone may have an impact on human health in several ways. One of the findings was that the sexual desire fell with lower levels of testosterone. However, the level had to be extremely low for men to experience erectile dysfunction.
If estrogen production decreased, this had an effect on the sexual function no matter how much testosterone the man produced. The level of testosterone also had to be very low because the researchers found some reduction in bone strength and the size of the thigh muscles. When estrogen production was blocked, there was an increase in body fat no matter how much testosterone it was in the body.
However, estrogen levels alone had no effect on bone strength or muscle size. The researchers believe that one can not look at men’s testosterone levels in isolation when determining testosterone treatment. You must also consider the symptoms you want to influence.
The researchers wish to conduct a similar study for older men. Finkelstein says it’s interesting to know what’s happening with aging: While the testosterone level is getting lower, there’s also changes in the human body that can be associated with testosterone – they lose muscle mass and can get more fat on the body, lose sex and bone strength . The question is whether these are changes due to aging, or if it is related to changes in hormones.
When this study started, men’s testosterone levels were on average more than 500 nanograms per desiliter blood. Fat accumulation began when the level was down to about 300-350 ng. Body weight (without fat), muscle strength and perimeter of the thigh muscles began to fall at 200 ng.
“I think this knowledge will help clinicians make decisions about who will be treated with testosterone,” says Finkelstein to Reuters Health.
The study also shows that it is not easy to define low testosterone levels. In sexual function, there is one level that applies – for bone loss there is another.
The researchers also conclude that the amount of testosterone required to maintain body weight, fat mass, strength and sexual function varied widely among the men in the study.