Testosterone, important to both men and women,1 is a hormone secreted by the ovaries, adrenal glands, and testes.2 Women require less testosterone than men, but the hormone is needed to sustain a woman's libido and enhance the functions of estrogen.3 In both males and females, it strengthens bones to help prevent bone loss.2
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, responsible for male sexual development and critical in maintaining erectile function, libido, energy levels, mood, and a wide range of other physical functions throughout the body.2 As with other hormones, testosterone declines with age. Testosterone levels begin declining when a man is in his thirties. Although the total testosterone does not drop dramatically, the free testosterone, which is the biologically active testosterone, declines dramatically with age.4 Because the drop in testosterone is gradual, andropause symptoms appear over a longer period of time as compared to female menopause.5 Symptoms appear as a gradual decrease in energy, thinning bones and muscles, increased visceral fat, depression, and impaired sexual function.1,5,6 Testosterone deficiency has also been linked to hypertension, obesity, and increased heart disease risks. Stress levels may also play a role in declining testosterone levels.
Benefits of Testosterone Replacement
- Increase in bone density, bone formation, and bone minerals2,7-10
- Increase in energy5,11-13
- Improvement in sexual function3,5,6,11,13-19
- Increase in sexual satisfaction16,18-20
- Decrease in body fat or improved body composition5,7-9,12,16,18,21
- Balance healthy cholesterol and/or improve lipid profiles21,22
- Decrease in cardiovascular ailments5,7,16,21,23-25
- Improved brain function, learning, concentration, and memory5,12,16,26
- Improved blood glucose levels5,7,21
- Balance healthy blood pressure5,21,22
- Increase in sexual desire16,20,22,27-29
- Increase in both muscle strength and in the diameter of muscle fibers8,30
- Enhancement of skin and hair texture5
- Improved mood6,10,11,13,14,18,22,29,31,32
Side EffectsToo much testosterone can increase aggressive behavior. Testosterone should not be prescribed if prostate cancer is present. Testosterone has not been shown to cause prostate cancer; however, it may accelerate the growth of a tumor. PSA levels should be monitored yearly or every 6 months.
AdministrationTestosterone can be administered orally, by injection, patches, pellet implants or in a cream/gel form. The safest most natural way to take testosterone is in the cream or gel form. It is quickly absorbed, short-acting, and less toxic for the liver. Dosing is usually done in the morning and evening, and the strength varies from 50–100 mg.
Frequently Asked QuestionsQ. Will women taking testosterone have an increase in hair growth? A. No. They would have to take a man's dose to experience any hair growth. While men take 100–200 mg daily, women take only 4–8 mg. Q. How often can I get my prescription refilled? A. Testosterone is a controlled substance and cannot under any circumstances be refilled before your dose is due to run out. Take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Q. Will taking testosterone cause my body's own production to decrease? A. Yes, it can in some cases and some men may experience a small decrease in testicle size, which may be unsettling but does not impact sexuality or well-being.
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