The “Male Motor”
Just as estrogen and progesterone are the female sex hormones, testosterone is the male sex hormone. Testosterone is the main hormone produced in the testicles and secreted by the testes.The major effects of testosterone are:
The effects of testosterone are most pronounced during puberty. It brings on an enlarged larynx, thicker vocal cords, new body hair, increased muscle mass, and increased oil-gland secretion commonly associated with puberty. After puberty, levels of testosterone drop gradually in men, with profound effects on physical health and well-being and particularly on mood and libido.
Some males suffer when their bodies produce insufficient levels of testosterone, resulting in a condition called hypogonadism. Hypogonadism can be caused by ailments of the testes, such as testicular injury infection, Klinefelter’s syndrome (a chromosomal abnormality), and /or from disorders of the pituitary and hypothalamus glands.
Some telltale signs of hypogonadism are:
- Promotes libido, aggressiveness, and sexual desire.
- Stimulates the growth of certain organs.
- Promotes protein anabolism, that is, the use of protein to build muscle, skin and bone, and mitigates against protein catabolism, or breakdown.
- Stimulates sperm production.
- Nourishes all the tissues of the male urinary and reproductive systems.
- Regulates the production of prostaglandin, which seems to keep prostate growth under control.
Loss of sex drive/inability to maintain an erection.
- Depressed mood.
- Aches and pains in the joints.
- Dry skin.
- Loss of weight.
Absence or regression of secondary sexual characteristics, such as muscle development, deep voice, and hair distribution on the chest and face.
Testosterone production is affected by a number of external factors, such as illness, medications, psychological state, obesity, exercise, and lifestyle (smoking and excessive alcohol intake). Factors such as reduced activity, nutritional deficiency, diabetes, and growth hormone deficiency can also contribute to lower levels.
Andropause: The Male Menopause
The phenomenon termed “andropause” involves the progressive decline of free testosterone levels with age, coupled with an increase in production of a protein reducing its availability to the tissues. As a result of these hormonal changes, men as early as age forty can develop impotency or libido problems.
Andropause can also have profound effects on physical health and well-being in men, particularly on mood and libido, and some men even experience sweating and hot flashes at night. But the difference between the two conditions is that men experience a more gradual and incomplete loss of testicular function with increasing age (many men can sire children well into older age), resulting in reduced testosterone and sperm production.
Men diagnosed with hypogonadism are good candidates for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).