January 23, 2017

Cause and Effects of Low Testosterone

By Dr. Richard A. DiCenso

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is one of a family of hormones called androgens. Best known for their masculinizing effects, androgens first kick into action during the embryonic stages of life. An embryo is conceived when a female egg is fertilized with a male sperm. Androgens are a naturally occurring sex hormone that is produced by the ovaries, adrenal glands and other tissues. Androgen plays a key role in regulating certain bodily functions, including the growth spurt at puberty. It is believed to regulate the function of many organs, including the reproductive tract, kidneys, liver and muscles. The egg and sperm each donate a single sex chromosome to the embryo, an X chromosome from women, and an X or Y chromosome from men.

If the combination of these sex chromosomes is XX, then the embryo will be female. If it’s XY, the embryo will be male. Though in fact, it’s not until the sixth week of development that XX or XY embryos are anatomically defined. Before this the human fetus is essentially sexless, possessing a set of “indifferent” genitalia. One interpretation of this is that all embryos begin as female. Testosterone makes the difference, influencing the growth of male genitalia, while the female component of the indifferent genitalia degenerates.

Testosterone tends to be identified with masculine stereotype

According to some, the intimate association between testosterone and male identity starts early. This inference that testosterone equals male, while absence of testosterone equals female, is well-entrenched in the layers of our culture.  But, the reality is that testosterone is a girl’s hormone, too.

We have been conditioned to box our hormones into those that belong to men, and those that belong to women. Estrogen and progesterone are the so-called female sex hormones, and testosterone, the so-called primary male sex hormone. With that we assign our hormones impossible gender roles. But of course, gender is not that simple and nor are our hormones.

It turns out men and women produce exactly the same hormones, only in different amounts. Men’s bodies generate more than twenty times more testosterone than women, an average of 7 milligrams per day. Women, via mainly their ovaries and adrenal glands, make a tiny 3/10 of 1 milligram of testosterone per day.

But it may come as a surprise to know that women’s ovaries primarily produce testosterone, from which estrogen is then made. This ovarian production accounts for one-quarter of the total circulating testosterone in a woman’s body. At first glance, this might appear to suggest that women naturally have less estrogen than men.However, with the help of an aromatase enzyme, estrogen is also produced in your fat and muscle cells both before and after menopause. Aromatase is an enzyme found in the liver, responsible for the conversion of the androgens into the estrogens. Inhibiting aromatase can cause the body to produce less estrogen and maintain a higher testosterone state.

Your estrogen levels are not totally dependent on your ovaries, there are a lot of other factors that come into play, like your diet and body composition.

While these numbers may appear to be a bit confusing at first, they basically translate to the fact that women have about 1/10 the amount of testosterone found in men.

Conversely, men’s bodies produce their own estrogen, converted by their tissues from their testosterone. In reality, testosterone is as much a woman’s sex hormone as it is a man’s.

What Does Testosterone Actually Do?

Testosterone is considered to be the principal male hormone, playing an important role in the development and maintenance of typical masculine characteristics, such as facial hair, muscle mass and a deeper voice. In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass and the growth of body hair.

So, why would women want testosterone? The fact is, women produce it too, and it has more positive influences than you might think. Testosterone is essential for health and well-being in women, as well. In women, studies show that it helps maintain muscle and bone and contributes to sex drive or libido and aids in the prevention of osteoporosis.

Is More Testosterone Better?

Not necessarily! In fact, over the past decade researchers have found elevated testosterone levels to influence a person’s tendency towards

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Low-T And The Invisible Man

By Michael Tyrrell

The first time I heard the term “Low-T,” I assumed it was the latest incarnation of Heavy D, Ice T, or Jay Z. You know… the new urban rapper with a baritone voice. “-Sup? They call me Low-T. Yo!” I wasn’t even close!

So, when I saw that this month’s topic was “Low-T,” my initial thought was, “How in the world am I going to find a spiritual angle here???” and “I guess only guys will be reading this issue!”  Actually, I hope the ladies will join us this month as we embark on our “mission” to understand low-T and rediscover the “invisible” man.

Hormones on the Run

Before I go any further I would like to emphasize the serious nature of this hormonal decline and how it affects the body, soul and spirit of a man.

For years, we have heard about the devastating effect of menopause and how it can make life unbearable for women during their “change of life” season, usually in their late 40s or 50s.

Menopause is more than just the cessation of a woman’s monthly “period.” It is also a decline in the hormones that are part of what makes them female! So it stands to reason, when estrogen/progesterone levels diminish, they cause a myriad of physical and psychological issues that can make life miserable, cause friction in marriages and tension in family relations.

One of the most painful feelings women encounter during this “change” is that they believe they are less of a women. Some women grow hair under their nose and chin due to the slower decline of testosterone versus estrogen.

I am mentioning menopause in an article about low-T to drive home a point, though it has only received media attention over the last 25 years.

Low-T is indeed a nearly identical prognosis for a male, as menopause is to a woman. In fact, “manopause,” or its medically accepted title andropause, is merely male menopause  with many of the same physical and psychological issues. It is characterized by a decline of testosterone (low-T) in males starting as early as their late 30s.

Manopause Hits Middle-Aged Men

Now that we can see this problem as a natural rite of passage that affects both males and females alike, we can now gain some inroads into some of the strange behavior surrounding the male “mid-life crisis.”

When I was in my 20s, one thing that puzzled me was the 50-something guy with the toupee, protruding belly, Italian horn necklace and a corvette that was hitting on girls that were my own age!

When I turned 50, I went to the doctor for a full exam and comprehensive blood work up. When I got the results, I realized why I had no desire to wear an Italian horn or buy a corvette. Beside a perfect exam, I had… high T! That’s right! I had ZERO decline of testosterone at age 50 and a sympathetic heart for those less fortunate.

Please understand, ladies. Men with low-T feel like less of a man. When a guy’s testosterone level drops, so does the old self-esteem. Low-T, or andropause, is the main reason men:

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