What Is Testosterone, and What Does It Do for Me?

We’re used to hearing about men and their testosterone. What you may not realize is that women also rely on small amounts of this hormone for red blood cell production and other tasks that are important to your overall health. Testosterone also plays an important role in your ability to lose weight.

Our bariatric surgeon and medical weight-loss specialist, Dr. Mustafa Ahmed of Southern Nevada Bariatrics in Las Vegas, explains what testosterone does for your body and what can happen when your levels drop too low.

Understanding testosterone

Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone that is regulated by the pituitary gland and produced in small quantities in the adrenal glands of both women and men.

Greater quantities of testosterone are made in the testicles, however, and stimulate the development of male sex characteristics such as:

  • A deeper voice
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Sperm production
  • Facial hair
  • Increased bone density/strength
  • Body hair
  • Growth of the penis, testes, and prostate gland

While present in much greater levels in men, testosterone is also one of several androgens (male sex hormones) that women produce in small quantities in their ovaries.

Most of the testosterone produced in the ovaries is converted to the female hormone estradiol. This hormone and other androgens play an important role in ovarian function, bone strength, and mood.

For both men and women, testosterone also:

  • Signals your body to make new red blood cells
  • Helps maintain muscle and bone strength
  • Enhances libido (sex drive)
  • Influences fat distribution and weight gain/loss, especially as you age

While testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone, it’s also available in synthetic form and is a component of anabolic steroids. 

Notably, however, anabolic steroids also contain chemicals that are known to cause cancer and other serious health conditions when misused and/or not prescribed by a physician.

What are the effects of low testosterone?

Men experiencing low testosterone levels may notice: 

  • Declines in energy levels
  • Loss of muscle mass and strength
  • Decreased libido (sexual desire)
  • Depression
  • Increased irritability
  • Reduced body and facial hair
  • Poor concentration
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty losing weight

Women with lower than normal testosterone levels may experience:

  • Declines in sexual desire and satisfaction
  • Depressed mood
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Decreased bone strength/density
  • Hot flashes

Because testosterone production in women naturally declines during menopause, it’s often hard to differentiate between menopausal symptoms and low testosterone levels.

What is physician-managed testosterone replacement therapy? 

Many over-the-counter supplements promise to replace your testosterone and bring it to normal levels. However, it’s impossible to know your testosterone levels without a lab evaluation, and there are certain risks associated with high testosterone levels.

Problems linked to higher than normal testosterone levels include:

  • Acne
  • Excessive body/facial hair
  • Increased appetite
  • Headaches
  • Heart and liver issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Female infertility
  • Prostate enlargement in men

Before prescribing testosterone replacement therapy, Dr. Ahmed completes a physical exam and blood tests to evaluate your testosterone levels. Based on those results, he calculates a replacement formula that’s appropriate for you.

For more information about our individualized, medically supervised weight-loss services that may include hormone replacement therapy, schedule an evaluation with Dr. Ahmed. Call our office, or you can book online right now.

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