Testosterone, why men need it and how to maintain strength in old age
The article is devoted to such an important hormone as testosterone, and the explanation of why it is he who makes men men. Also, the article will be interesting to read by the fair sex.
What is testosterone and how does it work in the body?
Testosterone levels, diagnosis, and a little about T replacement therapy
Risks of excess and deficiency of testosterone
Food to raise testosterone levels
Adolf Berthold’s study was the first one to discuss sex hormonesinfertility. Back in 1849, it was proposed that very active substances were found in the extract of the seminal glands. Of course, then their structure remained unestablished. After 40 years, his research received brief support from Harvard professor Brown-Séquard. At a meeting of the Paris Biological Society, He reported the results of the experiment on himself at a meeting of the Paris Biological Society. Here you can stretch your imagination a little. The professor was already 72 years old and, feeling increased efficiency, muscle strength and sexual activity, he announced a “rejuvenating effect”. There were a lot of people eager to experience this, but, alas, the effect did not last long and faded away, and often after a while there was a deterioration in the condition. As a result, work in this area was put on hold for a long time.
Further, in the 1930s, a lot of work was carried out on the isolation of sex hormones from the testicles of animals (testicles) and testing them, of course, on animals. For the first time isolated in its pure form three sex hormones, namely for the release of estrogen, progesterone and androsterone, Adolf Butenandt received the Nobel Prize in 1939. These studies were accelerated by such titans of pharmaceuticals as Schering (Berlin, Germany), Organon (Oss, the Netherlands) and Ciba (Basel, Switzerland). Testosterone itself was isolated in 1934.
Testosterone – what is it?
The primary male sex hormone and anabolic steroid is testosterone.
Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of the words hormone and steroid, since often you have to deal with the fact that people use these words without understanding their meaning (Those in the know, praise yourself, you are great).
A hormone, then, is a biologically active substance that regulates metabolism and physiological functions. But when people hear the word steroid, many imagine what pumped-up men use, who are not averse to admiring themselves in the mirror for an extra hour a day.
But everything is much simpler – steroids are chemicals that contain a sterane substructure, shown in the following figure. But representatives of this group of substances have much more functionality than making muscular giants out of people. Many of them are able to save your life at a critical moment.
Testosterone and sterane
The process of synthesis of glucocorticosteroids is controlled by the hypothalamic-pituitary system (this is what is in your head). The hypothalamus produces corticotropin-releasing hormone. This hormone causes the synthesis of adrenocorticotropic hormone in the anterior pituitary gland.
The latter stimulates the synthesis of adrenal cortex hormones. Cholesterol is a glucocorticoid precursor (in).
Many different hormones and steroids coexist in the human body in a healthy balance. And not all hormones are steroids, just as not all steroids are hormones.
One of the ways of formation of testosterone in the body is steroidogenesis, which occurs in the adrenal glands  (picture below). Through several enzymatic transformations, testosterone is formed from cholesterol in the body, which is not the last in this branched system of biochemical transformations.
It is important to note that more than 95% of testosterone is synthesized in the body of men in the testicles, the so-called Leydig cells in the presence of luteinizing hormone (LH). The male gonads also contain Sertoli cells, which require testosterone for spermatogenesis.
The remaining 4% are formed as a result of the work of the adrenal glands. In women, testosterone is synthesized in much smaller quantities by the adrenal glands than in men, also by the thecal cells in the ovaries and, during pregnancy, by the placenta.
Like most hormones, testosterone enters target tissues in the blood, where most of it is transported by binding to certain plasma proteins, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and to a lesser extent albumin. 1.5 – 2% of testosterone remains unbound.
Related Article: What are musculoskeletal disorders, and how can they be cured?
What are hormones and where are they produced?
Hormones are substances that are produced in the body in special glands in very small quantities, but have a significant impact on the work and interaction of all organs. There isn’t a single biological activity that can function without them.
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testes, in special Leydig cells. The testicles also produce sperm in another type of cell, the Sertoli cells. The coordinated work of these two types of cells ensures normal sexual and reproductive function in a man.
The process of formation of testosterone (as well as other hormones) is under the control of the central nervous system, namely the pituitary gland – an organ the size of a pea, but whose role is huge – it is a kind of conductor of the hormonal orchestra of the whole organism. The production of testosterone is regulated by the so-called luteinizing hormone (doctors call it simply – LH).
How does testosterone deficiency manifest itself?
The effects of testosterone on the body are described above, respectively, a deficiency can manifest itself with various symptoms, the most common are:
- decrease in concentration
- decreased muscle mass and strength
- decreased sex drive
- erectile dysfunction – problems developing and maintaining an erection
- infertility due to a decrease in the number of spermatozoa
- osteoporosis (cause of brittle bones)
- reduction in size and soft consistency of the testicles
- anemia (low red blood cells)
- reduction in the size of the prostate
Why can a man’s testosterone level be reduced in adulthood?
It has been established that the level of testosterone in men from about the age of 30 begins to gradually decrease, by 1-2% every year. As a result, by the age of 50-55 (and in some cases even earlier), the testosterone content can be only about 1/2 of its amount at a young age. In addition, with age, the amount of a special protein in the blood that binds sex hormones increases, which also leads to a decrease in biologically active testosterone. A condition called age-related hypogonadism develops.
The amount of testosterone in adulthood and old age also depends on genetic (congenital) factors, such as, for example, the sensitivity of body tissues to the action of testosterone.
An important role in the level of testosterone is provided by various diseases of the internal organs.
What diseases can lead to testosterone deficiency?
In addition to physiological factors, acute and chronic diseases and medications can lead to hypogonadism, which ultimately exacerbates the age-related decline in testosterone levels.
Among diseases of the internal organs, low testosterone levels can cause:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchial asthma
- coronary artery disease
- arterial hypertension
- cirrhosis of the liver
- chronic alcoholism
How do drugs affect testosterone and sexual function?
Medications taken for various diseases can negatively affect the level of testosterone in the blood. Therefore, self-medication is unacceptable, only a doctor can prescribe treatment for you, taking into account possible adverse effects on sexual function.
What are these medicines:
- used for high blood pressure:
- β-blockers (atenolol, anaprilin)
- Affecting the heart:
- antiarrhythmic drugs
- affecting the central nervous system:
- sleeping pills
- affecting the gastrointestinal tract:
How is testosterone level determined?
To find out what testosterone you have, you need to take a blood test in the morning (preferably between 7 and 11 am), since it is in the morning that the testosterone content in the blood is maximum. In addition, other special tests are also needed – determining the level of LH, a protein that binds sex hormones, as well as a number of other tests that the doctor will make a recommendation based on the results of the examination.
At the same time, testosterone deficiency can be suspected by clinical symptoms. For this, several special questionnaires and scales have been developed. By answering a few questions, you can guess whether testosterone is low or not.
Androgen Level Scale
- Do you notice a decrease in sexual desire (decreased pleasure from sex, lack of desire for sexual contact)?
- Have you become less energetic?
- Have you noticed a decrease in physical strength and endurance?
- Have you lost height?
- Have you noticed a decrease in “pleasure in life” (feeling that the peak of life has passed)?
- Have you become sad and/or irritable?
- Have you noticed a drop in the quality of your erections?
- Have you noticed a recent deterioration in your ability to participate in sports?
- Do you fall asleep after dinner?
- Do you have decreased performance?
Testosterone deficiency is possible with a positive answer to questions 1.7 or any three of the other questions.
Is it possible to increase the level of testosterone if it is low?
It is possible and necessary. To do this, there are a number of drugs, with the help of which the so-called HORMONAL REPLACEMENT THERAPY (HRT) is carried out. HRT with testosterone contributes to the normalization of its level in the blood and the disappearance of symptoms of its deficiency.
A specific drug, a treatment regimen will be prescribed to you by a doctor, taking into account the indications and possible contraindications. Talk to a specialist!