Testosterone is a male hormone produced mainly by the testicles but also by the adrenal glands situated on top of the kidneys. Testosterone is responsible for the development of male physical characteristics, muscle mass, strength, fat distribution, and sexual desire. Athletes take straight testosterone to boost their performance.
But are these supplements worthwhile, and what role does testosterone actually play in athletic performance? In this article, we examine this hormone and its role in sporting performance.
Testosterone therapy replacement appears to be beneficial to those suffering from hypogonadism. However, it is unclear whether testosterone therapy has any benefit to males who are otherwise healthy. There is an unproven belief that these therapies will make individuals feel younger and more active, to allow them to perform better during athletic events. ТAnabolic steroid hormones are synthetically made from testosterone, and the only difference between them is that steroid hormones have high anabolic effects. In fact, testosterone, a naturally occurring anabolic steroid, acts as a basis for other anabolic hormones.
In men with low testosterone, supplementing with the hormone has likewise been shown to improve libido, sexual performance, and bone mineral density. Testosterone may also help maintain normal mood and reduce body fat.
Why Athletes Use Testosterone
- Muscles: Increases muscle mass, strength and Increases protein synthesis.
- Improves cognition, memory, sex drive, and affects feelings.
- Increases blood flow and cardiac output.
- Increases collagen production and produces hair.
- Increases red blood cell production and bone growth, and maintains bone density.
- Supports sperm production and viability, and promotes penis growth and erectile function.
- Produce erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell production.
What Are the Options if Your Testosterone Levels Are Low?
Testosterone replacement therapy is currently only FDA approved for men who have been diagnosed with hypogonadism. Doctors can determine if you have male hypogonadism through physical exams and blood tests. If your doctor detects low testosterone they may perform additional tests to determine the cause.
Too Little Testosterone
Testicular production of testosterone is regulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland , a small gland located at the base of the brain. Testosterone deficiency may depend on testicular dysfunction ( primary hypogonadism ) or alterations in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.
In men, testosterone levels decrease physiologically from the age of 30. This process is part of normal aging and usually does not cause problems. In addition to age, there are many other factors that can contribute to lower testosterone levels. These include obesity or the habit of unhealthy lifestyles. Hereditary diseases , such as Klinefelter syndrome , are rather rare.
Because testosterone is the major androgen, it’s key not just for the physical changes that happen during puberty, but for your bone and muscles, sex drive, and your general mood.
As men mature, the ability to produce testosterone can decrease. This leads to a condition known as hypogonadism. Due to popularity of this treatment and popular beliefs of secondary benefits, individuals are now being tested at a younger age with the hopes that treatment could lead to better athletic performance.
- Reduced body and facial hair
- Loss of muscle mass
- Low libido, impotence, reduced sperm count and infertility
- Increased breast size
- Hot flashes
- Irritability, poor concentration and depression
- Loss of body hair
- Brittle bones and an increased risk of fracture
What causes testosterone deficiency?
Testosterone deficiency may be due to problems within your testicles or with hormone production in the brain.
Dysfunction of the pituitary gland (a gland in the brain that produces many important hormones) or hypothalamus. Klinefelter syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes testosterone deficiency. Testosterone and anabolic steroid abuse.
Anyone who is considering testosterone replacement therapy should have a complete physical by a physician and a discussion about the goals and risks of therapy.