Testosterone is a vital hormone in males that enables important biochemical functions of the reproductive system. Besides playing a major part in boosting sexual stamina, libido, fertility in men, this chemical substance is also involved in numerous other roles in the human system. These comprise strengthening bones, fortifying muscles, stimulating blood circulation, developing secondary sexual characteristics like body hair, deep voice and augmenting the growth of male reproductive organs of the testes and prostate.
Testosterone is present in abundant quantities in young men in their twenties, thirties and gradually reduces in volume in older individuals. Women also have testosterone but in very minute quantities, which are produced in the adrenal glands and ovaries. In men, this hormone is primarily synthesized in the Leydig cells in the testicles, a pair of oval-shaped organs in men situated within a pocket of skin tissue known as the scrotum, while small amounts are made in the adrenal glands. The levels of testosterone in the body are dictated by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain and are influenced to a fair extent based on diet, food habits, exercise, sleep and lifestyle too.
Testosterone And Its Structure:
The presence of testosterone - a potent sex hormone in males and its functions in improving virility and other aspects of reproductive health was known by researchers for several centuries. However, the precise biochemical structure of testosterone was determined only in the early 1900s, following which, in 1935, the renowned Dutch-German pharmacologist and physician Dr. Ernst Lacquer first isolated the compound from bull testicles. To further study the role of testosterone in male sexual health as well as in the context of disease and medicine, Adolf Butenandt, a reputed German biochemist and Leopold Ruzicka, a prominent Swiss-Croatian scientist, chemically synthesized testosterone in 1935. Being the first researchers to achieve this great scientific feat, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 1939.
Testosterone is fundamentally a steroid – an organic compound of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen molecules that is highly functional in a biological milieu, comprising a structure of four rings arranged in a particular manner. There are many categories of steroids and testosterone belongs to the androstane class containing ketone and hydroxyl chains in its assembly. The molecular formula of testosterone is C19H28O2 and it bears a molar mass of 288.431 grams per mole.
Key Functions Of Testosterone:
Testosterone is a primary male reproductive hormone that carries out several functions in the body, such as:
- Facilitating maturation of sex organs from young age to adulthood, such as the testes, penis and scrotum
- Developing secondary sexual characteristics in puberty including prominent deep base voice, sprouting of facial hair in beard, moustache and axillary hair in the underarms
- Enabling spermatogenesis i.e. the development of sperm cells within the testes in specialised organelles called seminiferous tubules
- Preserving optimal sex drive, libido and reproductive wellness
- Regulating lipid metabolism to burn excess body fat
- Increasing bone density and decreasing the chances of fractures
- Promoting muscle mass to elevate exercise performance
- Enhancing the growth of thick hair on the scalp, as well as in the facial regions like in the moustache, beard
- Supporting binding of receptors to platelets, to ensure healthy red blood cell synthesis and circulation
Adverse Effects Of Imbalance In Testosterone Levels:
While optimal levels of testosterone ensure sexual wellness in men, an imbalance prompted by very low amounts or higher than normal concentrations of this hormone in the body invariably causes some health anomalies.
Low Levels Of Testosterone:
The most likely reason for low testosterone is ageing. However, certain other conditions can also trigger a drop in testosterone levels in men, such as thyroid gland or hormone problems, testicular cancer, serious injury or trauma in the testicles, type 2 diabetes mellitus, alcohol addiction, pituitary gland abnormalities.
The common symptoms of low testosterone consist of reduced muscle mass, weak bones, fluctuations in body weight, inflammation in male breast tissues, feeling exhausted. A decrease in this hormone in men even results in issues with lack of sleep and erratic mood swings. However, this condition can be treated with testosterone therapy, to improve hormonal levels in men, regulate sexual wellness and uplift overall health.
High Levels Of Testosterone:
Excessive levels of testosterone occur due to genetic aberrations, adrenal tumours or testicular cancer. The overuse of steroid drugs also leads to high levels of testosterone in men.
Increased amounts of testosterone hamper heart functions, raise bad LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and sometimes even lead to infertility issues. High testosterone levels can be addressed by taking prescription medicines that alter hormonal secretions in the body, along with following a healthy diet, regular physical activity, proper sleep routine, losing excess body weight and adhering to a holistic lifestyle.