Four Functions of Testosterone (You Never Even Knew About)

Everyone knows what testosterone does – or rather, they think they know what testosterone does. It’s is most famous for causing the development of male sexual characteristics [1], but this complex hormone has a lot more to it than that. It’s actually present in women too, though in much lower quantities – and it has several, rather more intriguing functions than simply causing a deep voice and body hair. Read on!

Testosterone is an Anabolic Steroid

That’s right – just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. Testosterone is important for muscle health, metabolism and bone density. Synthetic versions can be taken as a performance enhancer [2]. While these drugs were developed to help men with low testosterone get their T back to normal levels, some people use them illegally to bulk up their muscles and quickly build up their strength. This can have worrying long-term consequences, including breast development, heart attack and liver disease – so only ever use testosterone if you’ve been diagnosed as having a deficiency, and only take testosterone as prescribed by a reputable doctor – never through online sources.

Testosterone Plays an Important Role in Fertility

Ok, considering it’s a crucial male sex hormone, this may not surprise you that much – but healthy levels of testosterone are vital for creating viable sperm [3]. Low testosterone can also cause erectile dysfunction and poor-quality erections, which isn’t exactly helpful if you’re trying for a baby! But if you’re looking to TRT to solve your no-baby blues, you may have to consider raising your testosterone through other means. TRT tricks your body into thinking it’s got enough testosterone, causing the testes to stop making their own – so your sperm quality will actually drop while on TRT. Talk to your doctor about how to raise your testosterone while trying for a baby.

High Testosterone is Linked to Certain Personality Traits

If you think it is just women whose behavior is influenced by their hormones, a developing area of research may give you cause to think again. High levels of testosterone are linked with high-frequency risk taking [4], and research from neuroscientist John Coates indicates that testosterone levels amongst financial traders may ‘rise in a bubble, increasing risk taking and therefore exaggerating a bubble’s upwards movement’. In other words, the testosterone levels of traders may be a predictor of financial trends. High testosterone levels are also a predictor of anti-social personality traits in both genders [5], which is why TRT focuses on bringing T levels back to normal, not artificially raising them!

Testosterone Plays an Interesting Role in Love

Testosterone levels have been shown to lower in men at points where they are going through pair-bonding – namely, when they first become a father, and when they fall in love. One study of 24 subjects who had recently fallen in love found that the male halves of newly loved up couples experienced a decrease in testosterone – while the female halves’ T-levels actually rose [6]. When the subjects were retested 12-24 months later, their testosterone levels had gone back to a normal level. Similarly, one much larger, longitudinal study of 624 males found that fathers experience a 26-34% drop in testosterone compared to non-fathers [7], with a direct correlation between their drop in testosterone and how much time they spent with their child. This indicates that testosterone is suppressed to help men care for their child better – aping similar studies which have shown men in long-term relationships have lower T [8].

Testosterone has many fascinating functions beyond the sexual, and it’s not always a case of the more the better. While low T can cause problems including sexual dysfunction, bone weakness and fat gain. Too high a testosterone causes its own set of problems – which is why you should never attempt to medicate low testosterone yourself. If you’re concerned you’re suffering from low testosterone, always consult a doctor – and consider losing weight, partaking in regular exercise and ditching your wife. Just joking!

[1] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/276013.php

[2] http://www.webmd.com/men/tc/anabolic-steroid-abuse-topic-overview#1

[3] http://www.webmd.com/men/features/infertility#1

[4] http://www.wired.co.uk/article/why-men-risk-it-all

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4649825/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15177709

[7] http://www.pnas.org/content/108/39/16194

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13129483

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