Testosterone is a hormone that is present in mean and women as well. It holds the ability to regulate the production of sperm, control the sex drive, increase energy levels and promote muscle mass. It has also been known to have an influence on certain behaviors in humans such as competitiveness and aggression.
As a person ages, their levels of testosterone gradually decreases. This can result in a decreased sex drive. While this may become concerning to some, it is a natural part of the aging process.
Normal Levels of Testosterone
What is considered to be a “normal” level of testosterone varies from person to person depending on factors such as protein status and thyroid function. Typically for men that are over the age of 19, a normal testosterone level should be from 240-950 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL0. For women over the age of 19, the ranges should be from 8-60 ng/dL. Levels of testosterone generally reach their peak around the ages of 18 or 19 and then begin to decline from there throughout the rest of adulthood.
In The Womb
In order for normal fetal development to take place, testosterone is necessary throughout pregnancy. This is what controls the development of the reproduction system in males.
In order for the brain of a fetus to be healthy, there needs to be a narrow margin of the testosterone levels. Studies have led us to believe that levels that fall too high may be linked to autism.
Adolescence Throughout Early Adulthood
Testosterone levels hit their highest throughout adolescence and early adulthood. For boys, the first physical signs of testosterone present themselves during puberty. A boy will notice changes in his voice, his facial structure begins to appear more masculine, and his shoulders begin to broaden.
When men age, their levels of testosterone decrease at a rate of about 1 percent per year after the age of 30.
In women who are premenopausal, their testosterone is mainly in the ovaries. After menopause the levels begin to decline. This usually occurs between the ages of 45-55.
Signs of Low Testosterone
There is a testosterone test that can be performed to measure the levels in your blood.
Some people are born with conditions that cause them to have lower levels of testosterone. If a person has a condition that causes damage to their testicles or ovaries, they will have decreased levels of testosterone. Low levels of testosterone can cause many changes in sexual function. These changes include:
Low libido or decreased sexual desire
Other symptoms of low levels of testosterone may include:
Finding it difficult to concentrate
Changes in sleep patterns
Lack of motivation
If you have been experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, you should set up and appointment to talk with your doctor and have your levels tested.
Women and Testosterone
While testosterone is the main hormone for males, women also need it in order for their body to function in a healthy manner. It is found in much lower levels in women as compared to men. As a woman begins menopause, she will experience a decrease in her estrogen levels. This may cause her levels of androgens (male hormones) to be higher. If a woman has a disease such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, it can also cause a rise in her testosterone levels. If a woman has excess amounts of testosterone in her bloodstream, it can cause conditions such as:
Loss of hair
Facial hair growth
It is also possible for women to experience weak bones and loss of libido as a result of low testosterone levels.
Testing and Diagnosis
The best way to be able to get an official diagnosis for low testosterone levels is to make an appointment with your doctor. It is necessary to have a blood test and physical exam. You doctor will take a look at your physical appearance and sexual development. Typically, testosterone levels are higher in the morning time. Due to this, the blood test should be performed before 10:00 a.m. in men who are younger. For men who are over the age of 45, their blood test can be done up until at least 2:00 p.m. There are not many risks involved with the blood test, aside from the typical risk of infection at the injection site.
Effects of Having Abnormal Levels
Low testosterone levels can be a natural part of aging. However, they can also be a sign of other underlying conditions that need attention of medical treatment. These conditions include:
Thyroid gland disorders
Excessive use of alcohol
Side effects of medication
If the levels are much lower than they should be, it could be a sign of much more serious issues and is something that warrants the attention of your doctor.