Testosterone is a hormone we’ve all been hearing about since our pre-teen years, often times before then. It is the androgen hormone that creeps into male adolescence, is responsible for the cracking voice changes, developing sex drive, growing bones and broadening shoulders for young boys as they enter adulthood.
It is no secret that testosterone levels are at their highest levels in teenage years and young adulthood, but how does this hormone develop and change into adulthood? Below are five facts that explain how your testosterone levels decline and change as you get older.
Testosterone and its relationship to youth
According to Mayo Clinic in an article (1), testosterone is often thought of as the “fountain of youth” hormone. But the natural decline in testosterone levels is not responsible for the actual process of aging. It is, however, related to the changes in sexual function, such as a low libido, fewer spontaneous erections, and even infertility.
This hormone’s level is measured in nano grams per deciliter, and is highest for males between the ages of roughly 14 years old to 30 years old (average 270-1,070 ng/dL). After 30 years of age, the normal testosterone levels decrease every year by 1%.
Furthermore, in an article from elite men’s guide (2), free testosterone (testosterone not bound in the blood to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)) levels decline more rapidly than total testosterone.
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While total testosterone decreases by about 30% in healthy men between the ages of 25 and 75, free testosterone levels decrease approximately 50% in the same time frame. Its official term is referred to as Late Onset Hypogonadism (LOH) also known as andropause, yet commonly referred to as low testosterone, or “Low T.”
Testosterone’s roles in other lifestyle changes
While testosterone is mainly associated with sexual function, other differences can include (1) a change in sleep patterns and even emotions, such as low confidence and lack of motivation. It can also be responsible for an increase in body fat, reduction in muscle bulk and strength, and decreased bone density. This can lead many men to look for certain testosterone boosters, overall health changes and exercise to counterbalance the decline.
A particular testosterone “booster” is known as (2) testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), when a physician prescribes hormone treatment of testosterone. The different administration methods include transdermal, implantable, transbuccal and oral forms.
Testosterone and its effects on women
Testosterone levels are naturally lower for women, but they vary greatly, (1) from 15-70 ng/dL on average, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Because a woman’s estrogen levels drop after she enters menopause, this makes her androgen levels higher in comparison.
Some physical effects from this change include infertility, hair loss and body acne, irregular or absent menstrual cycles and even the growth of facial hair. A testosterone deficiency can also lead to fertility problems as well, weak bones and a low sex drive.
Normal Testosterone level plays a key role in the womb
Not surprisingly, testosterone begins developing as the fetus develops, and (1) ultimately contributes to the development of the male reproductive system and the masculinization of the brain. Yet these levels have to fit within a narrow margin in order for the fetal brain to be healthy.
While high levels of testosterone may be linked to autism, low levels of testosterone may increase the likelihood to develop Alzheimer’s later in life. Therefore, no matter what stage of life a person is in, hormone levels seem to fall between a certain window that is deemed “normal testosterone levels” for healthy growth and development.
Testosterone testing and results
According to Mayo Clinic (3), several different studies and tests are run to monitor and oversee testosterone replacement therapy and antiandrogen therapy. A physician can test hormone levels in the blood, and a sufficient diagnosis can be obtained through several different measurements.
If you think you have an abnormality regarding your testosterone, the best thing to do is keep track of the changes you’re experiencing and talk to your doctor about getting tested. The resources available are endless, and understanding how your hormones change as you age can help you lead a happier, more energetic adult life that doesn’t have to stop after young adulthood.
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