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What is testosterone good for?


Testosterone is something lots of people have heard of, but its function and benefits are not so well known.

This article will dive a little deeper into what testosterone is, the benefits of testosterone, and the lifestyle changes that you can make to help your body maintain a healthy level of testosterone.

Here is what this article will cover:

  • What is testosterone?
  • How is testosterone produced?
  • When is testosterone produced?
  • The function of testosterone
  • The benefits of testosterone
  • Lifestyle choices that will help you to maintain healthy testosterone levels
  • Conclusion

What is Testosterone?

measuring testosterone

Testosterone and masculinity are words that are often used interchangeably to describe male behaviour. Sometimes testosterone and masculinity are negatively associated with aggressive, hot-headed, and dominant behaviours. But, testosterone can influence so much more than simply the way someone behaves as it performs many vital functions in the body. [1]

Testosterone is a hormone and forms part of the male androgen hormone group alongside dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and androstenedione. Testosterone is the main sex hormone in males and, as such, is responsible for many of the physical features that make males differ in appearance and characteristics from females. [2]

However, testosterone is not simply a male-only hormone; females also require testosterone for certain essential functions, albeit at a much lower level than males. [3]

How is Testosterone Produced?

As testosterone is a hormone, it is produced by the body's endocrine system, which contains the glands that produce hormones. [4]

The process of testosterone production starts in the brain. The small but crucial part of the brain, known as the hypothalamus sends a signal to the nearby pituitary gland telling it to produce testosterone; it also signals how much testosterone is required. This signal is then passed from the pituitary gland to the testicles. 

For men, the majority of testosterone is produced in the testicles, with smaller amounts produced by the adrenal glands. For women, small amounts of testosterone are also made in the adrenal glands along with the ovaries. [5]

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When is Testosterone Produced?

While testosterone is often associated with puberty, testosterone levels in the body are present long before this. For males, testosterone levels are at a similar level to that of puberty during the first and second trimesters of gestation. This is because, during this time, the male external genitalia develops. [6]

Throughout a male's lifetime, their testosterone levels change. Puberty is the time that testosterone has the most significant impact on the body and these hormonal changes are most noticeable. During puberty, boys will experience many physical changes as the hormone levels in their body, particularly testosterone, increase.

Here are some of the changes that can occur in adolescents as their testosterone levels increase:

  • Growth in height and body size
  • Voice cracks start to happen as a deeper voice develops
  • Increased hair growth on the body such as armpits, legs, stomach, and chest
  • Fine facial hair may grow on the upper lip before becoming coarser
  • Fine pubic hair starts to develop before growing thicker and coarser
  • Penis and testes enlarge
  • Sperm is produced
  • Prostate gland grows
  • Facial skin may become oily, and spots may develop as a result
  • Increased sweating, particularly under the arms


As you can see, as testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, it plays a crucial role in puberty and the development of male bodily characteristics. [7]

Some men produce low levels of testosterone; this is known as hypogonadism. Hypogonadism can impact adolescents and result in them having delayed puberty. In some cases, they may not experience the physical changes that puberty usually brings, which could harm their development. Hypogonadism can also occur in older adults, as testosterone levels naturally drop as men age. [8]

Later in this article, we will explain the continuing impact that testosterone has on a male's life beyond puberty, including the functions of testosterone, its benefits, and how you can increase testosterone naturally.

The Functions of Testosterone

two men sitting ringside

Testosterone performs many vital roles in the bodies of both males and females. However, testosterone performs more functions in the male body than the female body. For men, testosterone impacts their physical development, appearance, well-being and fertility. [9]

When the hypothalamus and pituitary gland signal to the testes to create the correct amount of testosterone, the hormone will function as it should and will be carried throughout the body by the bloodstream. As testosterone performs so many vital functions in the body, the endocrine system must work effectively to ensure testosterone is at its optimum level. [10]

Here are the vital functions that testosterone performs in the male body:

  • Development of genitalia during gestation
  • Production of sperm
  • Semen production
  • Erection
  • Ejaculation
  • Physical changes during puberty such as voice breaking, facial and pubic hair growth
  • Libido/sex drive levels
  • Increases muscle mass, including size and strength of muscles
  • Decreases fat mass
  • Increases bone density
  • Red blood cell production
  • Mood regulation
  • Cognitive abilities

The Benefits of Testosterone

As testosterone is responsible for so many vital functions, there are lots of benefits to be gained from having optimal testosterone levels.

The benefits of testosterone range from a reduced risk of certain diseases, improved reproductive health, mood regulation, improved cognitive abilities, increased bone density, bigger muscles, and improved libido. Below, you will find lots more details on each of the benefits of having optimum testosterone levels:

Reduce the Risk of Certain Diseases Associated with Testosterone

Testosterone can help to reduce the occurrence of some serious diseases in men, particularly cardiovascular disease. [11]

Men with lower testosterone levels may be at risk of cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks. This is likely to be because testosterone helps the body to produce red blood cells. [12]

A large-scale 2015 study published in the European Heart Journal examined 83,010 men with low total testosterone (TT) levels. The study found that after testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) returned the participants' TT levels to a normal level, a significant reduction in myocardial infarction and stroke was detected. More recent research from the European Society of Cardiology suggests that there is a link between red blood cell dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. [13]

Fertility and Testosterone

As the primary male sex hormone, testosterone naturally plays a significant role in male fertility and reproductive functions. [14]

Natural testosterone secretion is vital for men hoping to get their partner pregnant. To maintain a healthy sperm count, it is essential for the hypothalamus to pass the signal to the pituitary gland. This message then needs to be passed on to the testes. The testes then make testosterone which is vital for sperm production and to keep the sperm count at a healthy level. [15]

Along with ensuring that the sperm count is healthy, testosterone is also required for libido and erection. [16]

Maintaining natural testosterone secretion is essential as low testosterone levels can cause a loss of sex drive and erectile dysfunction. But, if you are planning to conceive, it is crucial to know that a potential risk of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) could lower your sperm count by stopping sperm production. The reason that TRT can cause infertility is that the treatment decreases levels of the follicle-stimulating hormone known as FSH, which is essential for the production of sperm.

So, to maintain fertility levels, it is essential to have the optimum level of natural testosterone to make sure sperm production is healthy while ensuring that the ability to have erections and a normal sex drive remains.

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Testosterone and Mood Regulation

The relationship between hormones and mood is one that is often spoken about. In fact, hormones often get the blame for almost every kind of emotional state. While it is often seen as a cliché to blame every mood swing on hormones, there is a recognised connection between hormone levels and mood.

Many people think of low mood and depression as the result of decreased levels of the neurotransmitter and hormone serotonin. But, serotonin is not the only factor at play when it comes to mood regulation.

Testosterone, in particular, low testosterone levels are believed to cause low mood, anxiety, and depression. [17] When low testosterone is combined with high cortisol levels, this can cause increased stress and mood swings.

Maintaining healthy testosterone levels can be an excellent way to keep your mood on an even level and reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, and mood swings. [18]

Cognitive Benefits of Testosterone

As well as keeping your mood in check, keeping testosterone at a healthy level is believed to have many cognitive benefits. Increasing low testosterone levels up to a normal range is believed to aid thinking abilities and improvements in spatial memory. [19]

Research published in 2020 in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology shows a correlation between low levels of testosterone and the risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease and dementia. The research showed that treatment with a testosterone supplement could increase general cognitive function and improve motor response in the short term. The results of the study also showed an improvement in verbal memory, which was measured via story recall. [20] 

Increased Bone Density

A correlation between low testosterone levels and decreased bone density has been established. It is believed that low testosterone levels increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis in men. [21]

Increasing testosterone levels can lead to improvements in bone density and reduce the chances of fractures and osteoporosis. [22] In some cases, where testosterone levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may be prescribed and used under medical supervision. Still, the risks and benefits of the treatment would need to be carefully assessed in each case.

Leaner Body Mass

Having a lean body with lower body fat levels is a widely accepted way to stay healthy and reduce the risk of many serious diseases. [23] But, what you may not be aware of is the link between body fat and testosterone.

Low levels of testosterone are often associated with an increase in body fat in men and reduced muscle mass. [24] Due to testosterone's role in metabolising fat, having a correct level of the hormone enables fat to be burnt efficiently, preventing excessive weight gain due to fat build-up.

When testosterone is restored to normal levels, body mass typically becomes leaner, and many men find their strength increases. The impact of achieving a healthy level of testosterone, leaner body mass, and increased strength are more likely to be noticeable when combined with exercise and training.

Increased Muscle Mass

An increase in muscle mass is something that many people aim for and spend lots of time in the gym trying to achieve. However, even if you are spending hours in the gym, you may not see the results you want from your training if your testosterone levels are too low, as low T is associated with low muscle mass. [25]

As well as improving your physique by helping you metabolise fat more efficiently, testosterone also plays a crucial role in building muscle mass. Testosterone encourages muscle protein synthesis, which leads to increased muscle mass. [26] An increase in muscle protein synthesis should make it easier for you to build muscle and strength to see better results from your workouts.

Lifestyle Choices That Will Help You to Maintain Healthy Testosterone Levels

swimming to miantai active lifestyle

Maintaining healthy levels of testosterone is crucial to many different aspects of your health, wellbeing, and achieving the physique you want.

Encouraging your testosterone levels to reach a healthy level the natural way can be the best way to gain all of these benefits.

In some cases, where there is a specific medical need, testosterone replacement therapy is prescribed by a physician. But, there are many lifestyle choices that you can make to help increase your testosterone levels.

Here are some of the lifestyles choices that can help boost testosterone the natural way:

Exercise

If you aim to improve your muscle mass by increasing testosterone in your body, then your training routine can help, particularly if you incorporate compound exercises such as the bench press

Testosterone helps speed up muscle protein synthesis, and training helps to increase testosterone even further to improve your muscle mass, as well as increasing your strength. [27]

Don't forget about endurance training to, this can benefit your overall body composition and health by increasing lung capacity and improving blood flow. You can establish your fitness level by calculating your VO2max.

Sleep

Getting the right amount of sleep is vital for maintaining your health and wellbeing. While a lack of sleep impacts your general health, your testosterone levels can be specifically affected. [28]

A study conducted by the University of Chicago Medical Center examined the impact of sleep loss on testosterone production in healthy young men. The study found that getting less than five hours of sleep per night for one week had a dramatic effect on the participants' testosterone levels. The men experienced a decrease in testosterone that was between 10% and 15% lower than usual. [29]

As testosterone declines at a rate of 1% and 2% each year as men age, the results showed that getting fewer than five hours of sleep aged their testosterone levels by around 10 to 15 years.

Ensuring you get enough sleep each night could be a great way to maintain your testosterone at a healthy level. The recommended amount of sleep per night for adults is around eight hours, but this does vary according to your age while activity levels can also have an impact. It is considered that military personnel and athletes do not acheive their sleep requirements.

Nutrition

Eating a nutritionally balanced diet is an excellent way to keep your general health in good order, including your cognitive function

Reducing your consumption of unhealthy fats will help you to maintain a healthy weight and should make it easier for you to exercise, too much saturated fat intake can reduce testosterone secretion. [30]

A study published by the Nutrients Journal also recommended that those suffering from low hypogonadism and obesity should keep hydrated by drinking more liquds such as water or orange juice. [31]

You should also be aware of not eating appropriately for your activity levels. Research shows that a calorie restriction can lead to reduced levels of testosterone [32] among judo fitness tests, thus be aware of your calorie and macronutrient needs, particularly if you are involved in high energy sports or the military

As exercising is an excellent way to boost testosterone levels, you should see dual benefits from combining exercise with a healthy diet. Check out these t-boosting foods that you could start eating. 

Supplements

Along with eating nutritious foods, taking supplements may also help you to increase your testosterone levels further.

Ashwagandha is a plant extract that has been the subject of numerous research papers and is associated with helping to build muscle mass by helping to increase testosterone and reducing cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which is also beneficial for testosterone production.

In one study, the researchers found that there was a significant increase in muscle mass and training performance when ashwagandha was used in combination with resistance training sessions. [33]

Other compounds have also proven to be useful such as D-Asapartic acid, and urtica dioica

In addition, while we know a diet packed with antioxidants and micronutrients is beneficial to us, we sometimes cannot fulfill our requirements each and everyday unless we are immensely strict. 

This is why taking a supplement can help ensure you get vitamins such as K2, vitamin A or vitamin D which can help improve your testosterone levels.

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Conclusion

As you can see, testosterone is about so much more than the stereotypical view of masculinity. This male sex hormone performs a wide variety of roles throughout the body and can impact many essential functions.

Issues with testosterone levels being either too low or too high can have a profound impact on men both physically and mentally. It is crucial to remember that testosterone levels can vary over time and naturally lessen as you age. For some men, low testosterone levels may be an issue that occurs before they are even born and can lead to hypogonadism, but for others, low levels of the hormone may result from illness, accidents, and even lifestyle choices.

When your general health is good, and your testosterone is at an optimum level, you should feel the benefits that this brings. Taking the best care of yourself by getting enough good quality sleep, eating nutritious foods to fuel your body, staying active, and taking supplements, if you wish, can have a noticeable impact on your physical and mental health.

Testosterone is a powerful hormone with far-reaching effects. So, when your testosterone levels are correct, you should notice many benefits; Your mood should feel stable, workouts should be enjoyable and achieve the results you want, and your muscle mass should increase.

Why not try our military grade testosterone booster formulated with 11 natural, legal and clinically proven ingredients?

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This post was written by Ben - BA(Hons), PGCert Sport & Exercise Nutrition.

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