When it comes to the subject of male hormones, there’s really only one that springs to mind: testosterone. And there’s a reason for that too, as testosterone is what makes men men. In this blog post, we explore exactly what that means, how testosterone affects men and whether there are other hormones that are important for men too.
Testosterone – the ‘male’ hormone
It’s actually wrong to describe testosterone here as the ‘male’ hormone. It is, in fact, a sex hormone found in both men and women. But it’s present in much higher concentrations in men and has a far greater influence.
In men, the hormone testosterone is produced in the testicles and also in small quantities in the adrenal cortex. Yet the effects of the ‘male’ hormone are much more far-reaching, as traces of the hormone can be found in every organ in a man’s body. It plays a crucial role in male sexuality and fertility, however. It is responsible for a man’s ability to procreate, to have an erection and produce sperm. There is also a close link between this typically male hormone and sex drive (or libido). And as well as the issue of sexuality, testosterone also has an impact on a man’s muscles. Not only does it play a role in muscle growth, but it is also responsible for the fact that muscle power can increase with targeted training. But that’s not all. Testosterone also has an influence on the following areas:
- Bone metabolism: Testosterone is not just involved in bone growth. It is also responsible for bone regeneration and maintains the necessary bone density.
- Hair growth: The typically masculine body hair and facial hair are also the result of testosterone.
- Voice: Boys’ voices break during puberty, resulting in a deeper, more manly voice. Testosterone plays a crucial role in this as well.
- Development: An individual’s gender development takes place in the brain. Testosterone is involved here too.
- Mood and energy: Testosterone affects a man’s mood and energy levels.
So the male hormone testosterone essentially has an impact on virtually everything associated with the male body and its development. It’s hardly surprising then that men with low levels of testosterone experience health problems, but what exactly are the signs of a testosterone deficiency?
Symptoms of a testosterone deficiency
Many older men suffer from a testosterone deficiency. This is quite simply due to the fact that concentrations of the hormone are at their highest between the ages of 20 and 30, at which point they begin to fall steadily. From the age of 30 onwards, the male body produces roughly one per cent less testosterone every year. As a result, many men experience a variety of different symptoms at some point.
Some men with a testosterone deficiency notice a reduced libido and take less interest in sex. Low testosterone levels can also affect a man’s mood and energy levels. Those men affected often suffer from depression and are constantly exhausted. The male body may undergo changes during this stage. Men often experience decreased muscle mass and their body fat percentage increases. They then put on weight, particularly around the stomach. In addition, men may also experience the following changes:
- Problems achieving an erection
- Loss of drive and less motivation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Hair loss
- Osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)
Other important hormones in the male body
Whilst testosterone is thought of as the male hormone, oestrogen is usually associated with the female body. Yet oestrogen also plays a role in the male body, only at far lower concentrations than in the female body. Men usually have just a tenth of the oestrogen women have in their bodies. Oestrogen plays the same role in men as in women, however. It is responsible for bone stability and also protects the blood vessels.
DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone to give it its full name, is a precursor hormone. This means it can be converted into both testosterone and oestrogen. Which hormone it becomes is determined by what the body most needs. Levels of this hormone also decline steadily from the age of 30 onwards.
LH and FSH
When we talk about the hormones LH and FSH, we are dealing with the healthy development of sperm in the testicles. These two hormones are required for this process. They are produced in the hypophysis, also known as the pituitary gland. FSH is also known as follicle-stimulating hormone, as this hormone stimulates maturation of sperm in the seminiferous tubules. LH, on the other hand, is also known as luteinising hormone and influences maturation of the sperm. These two hormones therefore play a central role in male fertility.
HGH is also known as human growth hormone. As the name suggests, it is involved in muscle growth and at the same time can also help burn fat. What’s more, it stimulates collagen synthesis and is therefore responsible for maintaining firm skin. It can also have a positive impact on mood. Just like testosterone, levels of human growth hormone also decrease with age.
In addition to the hormone testosterone, there are also several other hormones at work in the male body, influencing a wide range of different processes. Nevertheless, the hormone that has the biggest influence on the male body is the ‘male’ hormone testosterone. In our next article, we take a closer look at the hormone balance in women’s bodies.