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Testosterone


Generally defined as the male sex hormone, testosterone is a major player in many processes in the human body. In males, testosterone is secreted by the testes and is most popularly recognized for its role in the production of male sex tissues, namely the testes and prostate. It is also responsible for promoting secondary sex traits like increased bone and muscle mass and growth of body hair. Testosterone is also a key player in the prevention of osteoporosis. Testosterone is a natural steroid in the body, famously a male hormone because males produce about ten times as much as females, however females are much more sensitive to the effects of testosterone. Males secrete the large majority of the hormone in their testes, females in their ovaries, but a small amount is also produced by the adrenal glands in both males and females. Production of testosterone is dictated by the pituitary gland in the brain, which signals the need for more testosterone by releasing LH, or luteinizing hormone.

Testosterone is very important in every stage of life. Prenatally, along with dihydrotestosterone, it is responsible for the formation of male genitalia and for gender identification. Testosterone dictates the development of the seminal vesicles and the prostate. The role of testosterone is unclear during early infancy, but levels rise in males to almost that of puberty, then plummet again around 4-6 months. One theory is the testosterone is “masculinizing” the brain. Immediately prior to puberty, levels rise again in both boys and girls who are saying goodbye to childhood. Secondary sex characteristics begin to appear like oily skin, pubic hair, body odor, oily hair, facial hair bones begin to mature, and even some hair in the armpits appears. When puberty hits, there is a huge increase in testosterone. Puberty brings along many awkward changes like new odors, fluctuations in the functionality and appearance of certain organs (that are usually quite inconvenient), and a different outlook on the opposite sex. Testosterone increases bone density and musculature, giving men heavier, thicker bodies than women.

Finally, when we reach adulthood, testosterone’s effects on major bodily changes has, for the most part, subsided. In adulthood, testosterone’s priority becomes maintenance. Libido, is preserved for both males and females. Testosterone regulates the strength and frequency of erections in males and the production of sperm. The hormone is responsible for increasing metabolic functions in men resulting in faster healing time and lesser amounts of body fat. Finally, and probably of most importance to athletes and bodybuilders, testosterone maintains muscles mass and allows for muscle growth. Testosterone also plays a role in preventing muscle atrophy.