Testosterone is an anabolic hormone produced predominately by the ovaries in women and the testes in men, and to a lesser extent in the adrenal glands. It is essential for creating energy, maintaining optimal brain function (memory), regulating the immune
system, and building and maintaining the integrity of structural tissues such as skin, muscles, and bone. Premenopausal testosterone levels usually fall within the high-normal range and postmenopausal levels at low-normal range. In men testosterone levels peak in the teens and then fall throughout adulthood.
Low testosterone is most commonly caused by aging, removal of the ovaries or testes, suppression of ovarian and testicular production by stress hormones (cortisol), use of contraceptives and synthetic HRT, and/or damage to the ovaries, testes and adrenal glands by trauma, medications, or radiation therapies.
Chronically low testosterone can cause:
- loss of bone and/or muscle mass,
- erectile dysfunction,
- thinning skin,
- vaginal dryness,
- low libido,
- aches and pains,
- and memory lapses.
High testosterone is usually the result of excessive production by the ovaries, testes and adrenal glands or supplementation with androgens (testosterone, DHEA). Slightly elevated testosterone (range 50-60 pg/ml) is often seen in postmenopausal women
as they transition into menopause.
High testosterone in premenopausal women is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which in turn is caused by insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome.
- loss of scalp hair,
- increased body and facial hair,
- acne, and oily skin.
Supplementation with topical testosterone at doses in excess of levels produced by the ovaries (0.3-1 mg) or testes (5-10 mg) can raise testosterone to levels beyond physiological range.
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