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What Is Testosterone & How Does It Affect Your Body?

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: March 9, 2022

If you’ve followed my blog posts over the last few years, you may have noticed that as a personal fitness coach, I pay a lot of attention to the testosterone levels of my male clients.

One thing I make sure my clients fully understand is what testosterone actually is and why it’s so important for men and women to pay more attention to it.

And to help me create physiologically accurate information on this topic, I had a medical doctor help me with some research to make this topic easier to understand than reading through medical school textbooks.

Quick Summary:

  • Testosterone levels influence a lot more than facial and body hair growth in puberty and sexual function as adults, but many men don’t fully understand it.
  • Testosterone levels gradually go down with natural aging, but this can accelerate and cause health issues.
  • Dealing with testosterone deficiency could help overcome weight issues and help you build up better body strength in a natural way.

What Is The Sex Hormone Testosterone?

banana inside a jeans

Testosterone is the male sex hormone that is predominantly created in the testicles. It’s why sexual development takes place in puberty and why boys start developing muscle mass, and some would say a sexual overdrive [1].

And while it plays a critical role in sexual health and sperm production, there are other areas of your body that are impacted by testosterone levels.

Two other very important areas that normal testosterone levels are important for are bone density, red blood cell production, and fat distribution [2].

We’ll get to why these are important shortly.

From the age of 30, men start to see a gradual decrease in testosterone production of about 1% per year [3]. It may go unnoticed at first but could cause problems if you hit very low testosterone levels.

And women should also not discount the importance of testosterone. Yes, it’s not the dominant sex hormone, but it plays a role in bone density and overall energy levels, too [4].

Why Is Testosterone Important For Fitness?

Most people will simply think of banned drugs like anabolic steroids that make bodybuilders huge and athletes into superhumans.

But in the world of fitness, it doesn’t just have to be about building muscles and recovering faster from a tough workout routine.

With low testosterone levels, the body will start to store more fat. And that may influence how the pituitary gland interacts with the adrenal glands [5], causing a further reduction in free testosterone.

That can often become a vicious circle that ultimately contributes to obesity issues and why all men should pay more attention.

Problems With Low Testosterone

man checking his crouch and another man trying to sleep

Unfortunately, testosterone deficiency seems to be something that men don’t take seriously enough. Here are a few low testosterone common signs you might encounter but don’t have to endure.

Lack Of Libido

This is probably the most acknowledged effect. The same reason why teenage boys go into sex overdrive may cause older men to completely lose interest in sex [6]. While other things may contribute to low sex drive, a blood test most likely will reveal low testosterone.

Depression

There’s also a higher risk of developing depression due to low levels of testosterone [9]. If you’ve experienced several of these symptoms, including depression, it’s probably a good idea to speak with your doctor to determine testosterone levels and figure out your options.

Related Article:

Loss Of Muscle Mass

Because of testosterone’s impact on muscle growth and recovery [7], it’s one of the most sought-after things to boost with athletes. Many resort to medical testosterone therapy with banned substances, but a more natural boost could produce similar effects.

Disrupted Sleep Patterns

This is another underreported effect, but consistently low testosterone levels could significantly impact your sleep patterns [8]. And ultimately, that could affect your training recovery and overall health.

“Low testosterone also appears to be linked to lower quality sleep and fewer deep sleep cycles. Researchers have observed that as testosterone goes down, the hormone cortisol increases. Cortisol contributes to wakefulness, resulting in shallower and shorter sleep.” - Madeline R. Vann, MPH, everydayhealth.com. 

Problems With High Testosterone

man looking at his acne and a man with headache

Most of my clients tend to be more worried about high testosterone levels than a deficiency. Here’s the thing, though, things like liver and kidney damage and aggressive mood swings come as increased risk from sudden and very significant increases in testosterone [10].

If you use a natural booster to get your body to produce testosterone more effectively, you’re unlikely to end up with too much testosterone over a short space of time.

But if you’re expecting to start medical testosterone therapy, then you need to look out for these symptoms [11]:

  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Liver problems
  • Acne
  • Increased body hair
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Increased Appetite

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FAQs

Can Men Naturally Boost Their Testosterone Levels?

Yes, it’s possible for men to boost their testosterone levels naturally using supplements [11]. This is generally a good approach for men to avoid some of the more common health issues that result from such hormone imbalances.

At What Age Is Testosterone the Highest?

Testosterone levels are highest at about age 18 [12]. This is right around the tail end of puberty, and it flattens out until age 30. From there, it gradually declines, which may ultimately lead to symptoms of low testosterone highlighted above.

Are You Going To Pay More Attention To Your Testosterone Levels?

Understanding that testosterone may cause weight issues, trouble maintaining muscle strength, and even depression is a key point for men to take a more proactive approach to measuring and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re concerned that you might be dealing with low T-levels, talk to your doctor or order a home test kit to tell you whether you need to take action.


References: 

  1. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/understanding-puberty.html
  2. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/understanding-how-testosterone-affects-men
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15603-low-testosterone-male-hypogonadism
  4. https://www.everydayhealth.com/testosterone/womens-health/
  5. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/adrenal-glands
  6. https://www.health.harvard.edu/drugs-and-medications/testosterone--what-it-does-and-doesnt-do
  7. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/low-testosterone-guide/low-testosterone-muscle-mass/
  8. https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/low-testosterone-guide/good-sleep-low-testosterone/
  9. https://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20040203/low-testosterone-cause-depression
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897047/
  11. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/signs-of-high-testosterone
  12. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322508
  13. 12. https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone/testosterone-levels-by-age

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