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I was recently surprised to find out that testosterone and estrogen are found in both men and women albeit in different amounts.
I know that testosterone is related to the development of facial, body and pubic hair, deepening of the voice, and muscle development in men. And that estrogen helps in maintaining the condition of the vaginal lining and its elasticity, and in producing vaginal lubrication in women among other functions.
But what could be the function of testosterone in women or estrogen in men? A simple Google search could give me no good results except for here where it says:
In men, estrogens have no known function. An unusually high level, however, may reduce sexual appetite, cause erectile difficulties, produce some breast enlargement, and result in the loss of body hair in some men.
Large deficiencies of testosterone may cause a drop in sexual desire, and excessive testosterone may heighten sexual interest in both sexes.
Does anyone have any further knowledge?
As you know by now, both males and females have testosterone and estradiol. Of course, their levels are different in each sex, but both hormones are important to males and females. A human male with zero blood concentration of estradiol or a human female with zero blood concentration of testosterone wouldn't be possible.
Here are some famous examples:
Role of testosterone in human females:
- Increase libido1,2
- Modulate physiology of vaginal tissue3
Role of estradiol in human males:
- Help to regulate spermatogenesis4
- Reduce bone loss5
Testosterone is the main androgen secreted by the interstitial cells (Leydig cells) of the testes in response to anterior pituitary luteinizing hormone. In the female, it is secreted in much smaller amounts from the adrenal cortex and ovaries there is an approximately 18-fold higher plasma concentration in adult males (total testosterone mean 17.3 ± 1.26 nmol/L) compared with adult females (total testosterone mean 0.98 ± 0.08 nmol/L) (for example, Winters et al., 1998 ). Testosterone is highly bound (
99.5%) to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), with only a tiny percentage of the total hormone being available for biological action ( Winters et al., 1998 ). The hormone is irreversibly converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase in target tissues DHT is around 5-fold more potent than testosterone itself, binding with higher affinity to the androgen receptor. In the liver and adipose tissue, testosterone is converted to the female sex hormone estradiol by the enzyme aromatase. Physiologically, testosterone is responsible for the maturation at puberty and maintenance throughout adult life of the external genitalia (penis, scrotum) and the glands (prostate, seminal vesicles, bulbourethral glands) and ducts (epididymis, vas deferens, ejaculatory ducts) of the male reproductive tract. In fetal life, its secretion from the fetal testis is essential for the differentiation along male lines both of the external genitalia and the internal reproductive glands/ducts. The androgen receptor (AR) is a member of the nuclear hormone receptor family of ligand-activated transcription factors ( Pietri et al., 2016 ). In the absence of hormone, the receptor is present in the cytoplasm complexed with heat-shock proteins (HSP90). Binding with the hormone leads to a rearrangement in the ligand binding domain, inducing translocation to the nucleus and binding with co-regulatory factors. It also results in rearrangement in the N-terminus domain (NTD), which influences AR transcriptional activity. The DNA binding domain (DBD) allows recognition/binding of DNA androgen response element (ARE) and dimerization of the receptor on DNA, which leads to an AR–transcription complex with transcriptional activity through NTD–LBD interaction. After completing its actions, the AR–transcription complex is rapidly dissociated and recycled to the cytoplasm. The AR is also subject to posttranscriptional modifications that fine-tune receptor structure and function ( Pietri et al., 2016 ). While agonists recruit coactivators to augment transcription and translation of target genes, antagonists either recruit corepressors, prevent coactivators from associating with the AR, or retain the AR in the cytoplasm resulting in inactive AR ( Chmelar et al., 2007 ). Testosterone is used therapeutically primarily in the treatment of male hypogonadism.
Difference Between Testosterone and Estrogen
Even though testosterone and estrogen are called ‘male’ and female’ hormones respectively, both males and females produce both these hormones in their adrenal glands. However, female testosterone levels are very low (ten times less than that of men), and most of the time they are converted into estrogen by a biochemical reaction. Nevertheless, males have very low level of estrogen, when compared to female thus the effect of estrogen is very low in males. Testosterone and estrogen are largely produced by testes in males and ovaries in females, respectively before their birth and after puberty. In common, these two hormones are called sex hormones, which stimulate sexual characteristics and sexual functions in the human.
Testosterone is a steroid hormone which is largely produced in male testes while smaller amounts in female adrenal glands. The production of testosterone is mainly regulated by luteinizing hormone (LH) produced in the anterior pituitary. The male testosterone levels are increased rapidly during male puberty and decreased after age 35. While circulating, testosterone gets attached to sex hormone binding globulin. However, the globulin molecule must be detached from testosterone molecules in order to initiate hormone’s intracellular actions. Testosterone can increase the body mass and muscle mass during male puberty. At the same time, it decreases fat mass, especially in the abdominal fat deposit.
Certain males can convert testosterone to estrogen. This converted estrogen causes rapid growth of spinal bone mass, and hence responsible for the truncal growth during puberty. However, men who cannot produce estrogen or cannot respond to testosterone derived estrogen have lessened spinal bone density. Furthermore, the direct effect of testosterone causes larger bones in males than females.
The main function of testosterone is to stimulate sexual characteristics and sexual functions in males. In addition, it also causes growth of lean mass, spinal bone, and muscle mass, improves insulin sensitivity and blood flow to visceral organs.
Estrogens are a set of hormones mainly found in females and associated with their sexual characteristics and sexual functions. Estradiol is the most prominent estrogen hormone produced in ovaries. The main functions of estrogen are enhancing the uterine development, sustaining the growth of the endometrium for pregnancy, and developing mammary glands for lactation. In addition, estrogen can promote the fatty acid release and fatty acid uptake, and thus this allows women to use fatty acids more effectively than men, when energy requirements are concerned. An intracellular receptor with two subtypes α receptor and β receptor mediates the actions of estrogen.
What is the difference between Testosterone and Estrogen?
• Testosterone is associated with sexual characteristics and functions of males, whereas estrogen is associated with those of females.
• Men have a large amount of testosterone and less amount of estrogen, whereas women have a large amount of estrogen and less amount of testosterone.
• The main functions of testosterone are to stimulate sexual characteristics and sexual functions in men, whereas that of estrogen are to enhance the uterine development, sustain the growth of the endometrium for pregnancy, and develop mammary glands for lactation in women.
• Testosterone is largely produced in testes, in males while estrogen is mainly produced in female ovaries.
The role of estradiol in male reproductive function
Traditionally, testosterone and estrogen have been considered to be male and female sex hormones, respectively. However, estradiol, the predominant form of estrogen, also plays a critical role in male sexual function. Estradiol in men is essential for modulating libido, erectile function, and spermatogenesis. Estrogen receptors, as well as aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen, are abundant in brain, penis, and testis, organs important for sexual function. In the brain, estradiol synthesis is increased in areas related to sexual arousal. In addition, in the penis, estrogen receptors are found throughout the corpus cavernosum with high concentration around neurovascular bundles. Low testosterone and elevated estrogen increase the incidence of erectile dysfunction independently of one another. In the testes, spermatogenesis is modulated at every level by estrogen, starting with the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis, followed by the Leydig, Sertoli, and germ cells, and finishing with the ductal epithelium, epididymis, and mature sperm. Regulation of testicular cells by estradiol shows both an inhibitory and a stimulatory influence, indicating an intricate symphony of dose-dependent and temporally sensitive modulation. Our goal in this review is to elucidate the overall contribution of estradiol to male sexual function by looking at the hormone's effects on erectile function, spermatogenesis, and libido.
Estrogens are a group of hormones that are responsible for the development of a number of key female characteristics and functions.
Estrogen is primarily produced in the ovaries, two grape-sized glands located close to the uterus (womb), with smaller volumes being produced by fat cells and the adrenal glands.
Estrogen ensures healthy reproductive development in women, as well as the development and maintenance of other parts of the body.
Estrogen is known as the “female” hormone in the same way that testosterone is known as a “male” hormone.
Estrogen is known as a “female hormone” because it is produced in greater volumes in women and carries out a greater number of functions. Testosterone is known as a “male hormone” because it is produced in greater volumes in males and has a greater impact on male reproductive function.
Despite estrogen being called a “female hormone”, it also exists in men, just as small volumes of circulating testosterone exists in women.
Generally speaking, women have higher levels of estrogen and men have higher levels of testosterone.
We mentioned earlier that estrogens are a “group” of female hormones, what we mean by this is that the female body makes three different types of estrogen.
Each type of estrogen is connected due to the fact that they are chemically similar to one another.
These estrogens are called estrone, estriol and estradiol.
Estrone is commonly found in its highest volumes in women who are experiencing their first or last menstrual cycle. Estrone is found to be at its highest volume when a female experiences their first period. Estrone is also commonly found in its highest volumes in post-menopausal women.
Estriol is the weakest form of estrogen in the body. Estriol is found in its highest volumes in women who are pregnant.
Estradiol is the strongest form of estrogen in the body and is found in its highest volumes in women who have already lived through their first menstrual cycle. Estradiol is also commonly used in certain supplements and therapies that are administered to women during hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Estrogen is a female sex hormone that is produced in the ovaries, fat cells and adrenal glands. Estrogen is responsible for the development of certain characteristics and functions that separate females from males. While estrogen is known as a “female sex hormone”, it is produced in males in smaller volumes.
Estrogen plays a role in stimulating specific processes and functions in females and to a lesser extent in males.
Estrogen plays a number of functions in women from regulating the menstrual cycle to the development of healthy bones, regulating mood and the maintenance of healthy skin. Estrogen also plays an integral role in sexual function and the development of secondary sex characteristics, which is also defined as puberty.
The function of estrogen includes:
- The repair and maintenance of the skin
- Protecting certain parts of the brain
- Regulating one’s mood via boosting serotonin production
- The development and maintenance of healthy bones
- Regulating body weight
- Cholesterol metabolism
- The growth of bodily hair
- The development of wider hips and bigger breasts
- The onset of ovulation
- The development of pregnancy
The easiest way to break the function of estrogen down is to identify the parts of the body that estrogen affects and the functions it serves through its release in various parts of the body.
Let’s start from the top of your head and move down to the tip of your toes.
Estrogen is responsible for collagen content in the skin, including the thickness of the skin, the skin’s smoothness and its overall appearance. These findings have been documented through the use of estrogen products in postmenopausal women.
Studies have shown that estrogen plays a role in the repair and maintenance of skin through its power to speed up healing in the form of cytokine production, cytokines are proteins produced by the immune system. Estrogen is also involved in the production of collagen which maintains skin thickness.
Estrogen plays a role in the “fusion” of epiphyseal growth plates in both females and males. It has been acknowledged that in the younger generations, those with an estrogen deficiency are more likely to experience decreased bone mass, reduced bone strength and a disturbed “bone architecture.”
Many women report that changing estrogen levels affect their weight, particularly around menopause. They may notice that they are gaining weight, or that it is more difficult to lose weight.
Estrogen plays a role in body weight. Females and males are generally on an even playing field up until puberty. When estrogen levels begin to increase in women, they are likely to put on weight through the widening of the hips and the development of breasts. Fat distribution in women is also more likely to target the stomach and thighs. Men on the other hand will begin to develop high volumes of testosterone which will lead to the development of muscle and a higher muscle to fat ratio, meaning that men are likely to carry less fat.
Estrogen is most likely to affect your weight as you age due to the fact that estrogen actually decreases. A number of variables such as the loss of muscle mass, the increase of visceral fat (the fat surrounding internal organs) and a decrease in physical activity, which is common in older age all contribute to weight gain and estrogen has a role to play in this.
Estrogen encourages the repair and development of healthy receptors in the brain which encourage neurotransmitters (chemicals released by the brain) to engage with them in an optimal way. In simpler terms, it has been proven that estrogen makes communication in the brain easier by boosting the number of connections that brain cells make in the brain.
Estrogen is said to have a protective effect on the brain by increasing blood flow, preventing inflammation and stimulating synaptic activity, which promotes overall brain health.
Mood changes can be attributed to estrogen because estrogen stimulates the production of serotonin and the associated receptors in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating our mood, behaviour, appetite and digestion.
Estrogen is said to also boost levels of oxytocin and dopamine which play a significant role in our feelings of well-being and calm.
It’s important to remember that too little estrogen may be equally as damaging as too much estrogen, and that there is no gold standard for one woman’s volume of estrogen, it may change drastically from person to person, but consistently, the research shows that women are more likely to experience mood disturbances during their reproductive years when estrogen is liable to spike and plateau in comparison to after the menopause when estrogen is at its lowest.
Estrogen plays a role in the size and shape of your breasts from your first period to your last. Estrogen encourages the growth of healthy breast cells, it is also responsible for swelling and soreness during your menstrual cycle.
During your menstrual cycle, estrogen also stimulates the growth of milk ducts in preparation for pregnancy. Estrogen also forms unique relationships with other hormones such as prolactin, which is required for milk production.
Estrogen will play a role in the growth of the breasts during puberty, the shape and colour of the nipples, the beginning of milk flow during pregnancy and the cessation of milk production when breastfeeding is no longer required. .
It has also been hypothesized that as estrogen stimulates the production of breast tissue, those are living with estrogen dominance have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
Estrogen plays a role in inflammation, especially in the stomach. The majority of women may feel bloated or gassy during their periods and the reasons why estrogen plays a role in this are well documented.
Estrogen levels generally decrease to allow for the shedding of the uterine(womb) lining. This is necessary for a period to take place. These hormonal fluctuations can lead to a shift in the body's water-salt balance which can cause bloating and a swollen stomach.
Fluctuating levels of estrogen and to a lesser extent progesterone in the days leading up to your period may affect some of the hormone receptors in your stomach and small intestine which then leads to bloating and flatulence.
Estrogen plays its most integral role within the reproductive organs by regulating the menstrual cycle, controlling the growth of the uterine lining, which is shed during menstruation, blood clotting, and the development and maintenance of the vaginal walls. Estrogen also stimulates vaginal lubrication ahead of sexual intercourse, one of the most notable symptoms in women with estrogen deficiency is vaginal dryness.
Let’s take a more specific look at the role that estrogen plays within the reproductive organs.
Estrogen stimulates the growth of the ovarian follicles that release the egg during the menstrual cycle.
Estrogen develops and maintains the cilia (hairs) which are present on the cells lining the walls of the fallopian tubes They are involved in the transportation of eggs and sperm.
Estrogen is involved in building and maintaining the membrane that lines the uterus (endometrium). It is also required to ensure a healthy blood supply is available to a growing foetus should successful conception occur.
Estrogen stimulates the contractions that will lead to the shedding of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle and contractions during labor.
Estrogen plays a role in successful conception by controlling the uterine secretions that encourage the movement of sperm to an egg, enabling fertilization.
Estrogen stimulates the growth of the vagina to adult size, thickens the vaginal walls and encourages the production of healthy bacteria to fight infection.
Have any of the functions of estrogen highlighted symptoms that you may be experiencing on a day to day basis to you?
Taking a Female Hormone Test can offer insight into where you are with your estrogen levels and whether they may be causing unpleasant day-to-day symptoms.
Testosterone — What It Does And Doesn't Do
When you think of testosterone, what comes to mind? Macho men? Aggressive, impatient, type A behavior? Road rage? Violence?
Testosterone's role in bad behavior is largely a myth. What's more, testosterone plays other important roles in health and disease that may surprise you. For example, did you know that testosterone is a key player in prostate cancer? Or, that women need testosterone, too? There's more to testosterone than guys behaving badly.
Testosterone is the major sex hormone in males and plays a number of important roles, such as:
- The development of the penis and testes
- The deepening of the voice during puberty
- The appearance of facial and pubic hair starting at puberty later in life, it may play a role in balding
- Muscle size and strength
- Bone growth and strength
- Sex drive (libido)
- Sperm production
Adolescent boys with too little testosterone may not experience normal masculinization. For example, the genitals may not enlarge, facial and body hair may be scant and the voice may not deepen normally.
Testosterone may also help maintain normal mood. There may be other important functions of this hormone that have not yet been discovered.
Signals sent from the brain to the pituitary gland at the base of the brain control the production of testosterone in men. The pituitary gland then relays signals to the testes to produce testosterone. A "feedback loop" closely regulates the amount of hormone in the blood. When testosterone levels rise too high, the brain sends signals to the pituitary to reduce production.
If you thought testosterone was only important in men, you'd be mistaken. Testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal gland. It's one of several androgens (male sex hormones) in females. These hormones are thought to have important effects on:
- Ovarian function
- Bone strength
- Sexual behavior, including normal libido (although evidence is not conclusive)
The proper balance between testosterone (along with other androgens) and estrogen is important for the ovaries to work normally. While the specifics are uncertain, it's possible that androgens also play an important role in normal brain function (including mood, sex drive and cognitive function).
Did You Know?
Testosterone is synthesized in the body from cholesterol. But having high cholesterol doesn't mean your testosterone will be high. Testosterone levels are too carefully controlled by the pituitary gland in the brain for that to occur.
The Perils of Too Much Testosterone
Having too much naturally-occurring testosterone is not a common problem among men. That may surprise you given what people might consider obvious evidence of testosterone excess: road rage, fighting among fathers at Little League games and sexual promiscuity.
Part of this may be due to the difficulty defining "normal" testosterone levels and "normal" behavior. Blood levels of testosterone vary dramatically over time and even during the course of a day. In addition, what may seem like a symptom of testosterone excess (see below) may actually be unrelated to this hormone.
In fact, most of what we know about abnormally high testosterone levels in men comes from athletes who use anabolic steroids, testosterone or related hormones to increase muscle mass and athletic performance.
Problems associated with abnormally high testosterone levels in men include:
- Low sperm counts, shrinking of the testicles and impotence (seems odd, doesn't it?)
- Heart muscle damage and increased risk of heart attack
- Prostate enlargement with difficulty urinating
- Liver disease
- Fluid retention with swelling of the legs and feet
- Weight gain, perhaps related in part to increased appetite
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Increased muscle mass
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Stunted growth in adolescents
- Uncharacteristically aggressive behavior (although not well studied or clearly proven)
- Mood swings, euphoria, irritability, impaired judgment, delusions
Among women, perhaps the most common cause of a high testosterone level is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This disease is common. It affects 6% to 10% of premenopausal women.
The ovaries of women with PCOS contain multiple cysts. Symptoms include irregular periods, reduced fertility, excess or coarse hair on the face, extremities, trunk and pubic area, male-pattern baldness, darkened, thick skin, weight gain, depression and anxiety. One treatment available for many of these problems is spironolactone, a diuretic (water pill) that blocks the action of male sex hormones.
Women with high testosterone levels, due to either disease or drug use, may experience a decrease in breast size and deepening of the voice, in addition to many of the problems men may have.
Too Little Testosterone
In recent years, researchers (and pharmaceutical companies) have focused on the effects of testosterone deficiency, especially among men. In fact, as men age, testosterone levels drop very gradually, about 1% to 2% each year — unlike the relatively rapid drop in estrogen that causes menopause. The testes produces less testosterone, there are fewer signals from the pituitary telling the testes to make testosterone, and a protein (called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) increases with age. All of this reduces the active (free) form of testosterone in the body. More than a third of men over age 45 may have reduced levels of testosterone than might be considered normal (though, as mentioned, defining optimal levels of testosterone is tricky and somewhat controversial).
Symptoms of testosterone deficiency in adult men include:
- Reduced body and facial hair
- Loss of muscle mass
- Low libido, impotence, small testicles, 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
Some men who have a testosterone deficiency have symptoms or conditions related to their low testosterone that will improve when they take testosterone replacement. For example, a man with osteoporosis and low testosterone can increase bone strength and reduce his fracture risk with testosterone replacement.
As surprising as it may be, women can also be bothered by symptoms of testosterone deficiency. For example, disease in the pituitary gland may lead to reduced testosterone production from the adrenal glands disease. They may experience low libido, reduced bone strength, poor concentration or depression.
Did You Know?
There are times when low testosterone is not such a bad thing. The most common example is probably prostate cancer. Testosterone may stimulate the prostate gland and prostate cancer to grow. That's why medications that lower testosterone levels (for example, leuprolide) and castration are common treatments for men with prostate cancer. Men taking testosterone replacement must be carefully monitored for prostate cancer. Although testosterone may make prostate cancer grow, it is not clear that testosterone treatment actually causes cancer.
Diseases and Conditions That Affect Testosterone
Men can experience a drop in testosterone due to conditions or diseases affecting the:
- Testes – direct injury, castration, infection, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, tumors
- Pituitary and hypothalamus glands – tumors, medications (especially steroids, morphine or related drugs and major tranquilizers, such as haloperidol), HIV/AIDS, certain infections and autoimmune conditions
Genetic diseases, such as Klinefelter syndrome (in which a man has an extra x-chromosome) and hemochromatosis (in which an abnormal gene causes excessive iron to accumulate throughout the body, including the pituitary gland) can also affect testosterone.
Women may have a testosterone deficiency due to diseases of the pituitary, hypothalamus or adrenal glands, in addition to removal of the ovaries. Estrogen therapy increases sex hormone binding globulin and, like aging men, this reduces the amount of free, active testosterone in the body.
Currently, testosterone therapy is approved primarily for the treatment of delayed male puberty, low production of testosterone (whether due to failure of the testes, pituitary or hypothalamus function) and certain inoperable female breast cancers.
However, it is quite possible that testosterone treatment can improve symptoms in men with significantly low levels of active (free) testosterone, such as:
- Generalized weakness
- Low energy
- Disabling frailty
- Problems with sexual function
- Problems with cognition.
However, many men with normal testosterone levels have similar symptoms so a direct connection between testosterone levels and symptoms is not always clear. As a result, there is some controversy about which men should be treated with supplemental testosterone.
Testosterone therapy may make sense for women who have low testosterone levels and symptoms that might be due to testosterone deficiency. (It's not clear if low levels without symptoms are meaningful treatment risks may outweigh benefits.) However, the wisdom and effectiveness of testosterone treatment to improve sexual function or cognitive function among postmenopausal women is unclear.
People with normal testosterone levels are sometimes treated with testosterone at the recommendation of their doctors or they obtain the medication on their own. Some have recommended it as a "remedy" for aging. For example, a study from Harvard Medical School in 2003 found that even among men who started out with normal testosterone results noted loss of fat, increased muscle mass, better mood, and less anxiety when receiving testosterone therapy. Similar observations have been noted among women. However, the risks and side effects of taking testosterone when the body is already making enough still discourages widespread use.
The Bottom Line
Testosterone is so much more than its reputation would suggest. Men and women need the proper amount of testosterone to develop and function normally. However, the optimal amount of testosterone is far from clear.
Checking testosterone levels is as easy as having a blood test. The difficult part is interpreting the result. Levels vary over the course of the day. A single low level may be meaningless in the absence of symptoms, especially if it was normal at another time. We need more research to know when to measure testosterone, how best to respond to the results and when it's worthwhile to accept the risks of treatment.
Sex differences in vascular aging in response to testosterone
Large elastic arterial stiffening and endothelial dysfunction are phenotypic characteristics of vascular aging, a major risk factor for age-associated cardiovascular diseases. Compared to men, vascular aging in women appears to be slowed until menopause, whereafter vascular aging accelerates to match that seen in men. These sex differences in vascular aging have been attributed to changes in sex hormones that occur with aging. Although the role of estradiol in vascular aging in women has been highlighted in recent aging research, little is known about the impact of declining testosterone concentrations in both sexes. Importantly, while androgen concentrations generally decline with age in men, there are data that indicate reductions in androgen concentrations in women as well. Evidence suggests that low testosterone is associated with impaired endothelial function and increased arterial stiffness in men, although the effect of androgens on vascular aging in women remains unclear. Testosterone may modulate vascular aging by mitigating the effects of oxidative stress and inflammation, although there is sex specificity to this effect. The purpose of this review is to present and summarize the research regarding sex differences in vascular aging in response to androgens, specifically testosterone. Because exercise is a potent lifestyle factor for slowing and reversing vascular aging, we briefly summarize the available literature regarding the regulatory function of testosterone on vascular adaptations to exercise training.
Keywords: Aging Estrogen Exercise Testosterone Vascular biology.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Hypothesized mechanisms by which testosterone…
Hypothesized mechanisms by which testosterone deficiency may contribute to vascular aging in women…
Testosterone improves sexual function in older women
(Reuters Health) – Women who experience sexual dysfunction after menopause may feel more desire and pleasure when they use testosterone treatments, a recent study suggests.
Researchers reviewed data from 36 trials with 8,480 participants, most of whom had already gone through menopause. The trials randomly assigned some women to use testosterone treatment and others to take a placebo or an alternative hormone treatment like estrogen alone or in combination with progesterone.
Women who used testosterone experienced significantly increased sexual function and had satisfying sex more often than their counterparts who didn’t get this therapy, the study found. Testosterone caused spikes in desire, arousal, orgasm, and responsiveness as well as a decrease in distress related to sexual function.
“Testosterone acts directly in the brain and influences sexual functioning at a central level (sexual desire, fantasy, thoughts, etc.) and it also increases blood flow to the genitalia so women are more likely to feel sensation of arousal and orgasm,” said Susan Davis, senior author of the study and a researcher at Monash University in Australia.
Although best known as a male hormone, testosterone is important for female sexual health, contributing to libido and orgasm as well as helping to maintain normal metabolic function, muscle strength, cognitive function and mood, researchers note in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
Testosterone levels decline naturally over a woman’s lifespan and can also drop sharply following surgically-induced menopause. Prior research has suggested that testosterone therapy can improve sexual function in women, but the available formulations have been designed for men and evidence for their safety or for adverse side-effects in women is scant.
In the current study, side effects with creams and patches that apply testosterone through the skin included slight weight gain, mild acne, and increased hair growth. Oral testosterone appeared to increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the “bad” kind that builds up in blood vessels and can lead to blood clots and heart attacks.
The study also looked at some other common reasons why women take testosterone and found no beneficial effects on cognitive measures, bone mineral density, body composition or muscle strength. No benefits were seen for depressive mood irrespective of menopausal status or in psychological wellbeing.
“This is the first study to refute the use of testosterone for anything other than low libido unless future studies show evidence of benefit,” Davis said by email. “Unfortunately there are a lot of women in the USA and Australia being treated with testosterone for fatigue, depression and other invalid reasons.”
There are no testosterone treatments approved specifically for use in postmenopausal women, Davis said. As a result, women use formulations made for men or use compounded, or custom-blended medicines, that may be unsafe or ineffective.
Still, results from the study should reassure women that they may benefit from using testosterone to treat sexual dysfunction after menopause, said Rossella Nappi of the University of Pavia in Italy.
“Testosterone is not an easy fix for sexual dysfunction but it should be considered …for low sex drive, arousal, etc.,” Nappi, author of an editorial accompanying the study, said by email.
Treatments with the hormone estrogen may also help women improve genital arousal and lubrication as well as vaginal dryness and pain during intercourse, Nappi said.
Boosting Testosterone Naturally
If you find yourself experiencing any of the above, you will be pleased to know that you can help rejuvenate your hormone balances.
We are not talking drugs, injections or dangerous medications here.
You Can Do It Completely Naturally…. Heres How:
1. Hit The Gym
The best way a woman can rejuvenate her testosterone levels is by strength training. We are taking about lifting weights here, not running for hours on a treadmill.
Now that of course does wonders for your fitness, calorie counting and moods perhaps, but if you really want to boost your muscle tone and get that testosterone levels rising you need to push iron.
You don’t have to be over complicated about it, just include some weight lifting in your workouts 2-3 times per week.
Try and perform at least 8 exercises so that your whole body and all its muscle groups are worked.
Perform 3 sets of 6-12 reps with a weight heavy enough that you struggle to perform the last couple of reps.
8 examples are as follows:
- Chest Press
- Seated Row
- Goblet Squat
- Leg Press
- Leg Curl
- Dead Lift
- Shoulder Press
- Lat PullDown
2. Get More Sleep
A good nights rest is essential for your imbue system, brain health, energy levels and general and hormonal health.
There is a lot of research going on at the moment about sleep and its benefits.
It has been shown that a man or woman who gets just 5 hours of sleep per night will have some hormone deficiencies, whereas someone who sleeps 8 hours will have double the hormone concentration.
3. Eat More Fat
We all know the risks of too much fat in your diet, but cutting it out completely can have other negative effects.
Testosterone is derived directly from cholesterol which comes from fat.
Eating eggs, butter and avocados help to boost T levels because it provides the body with the nutrients it needs to produce increased hormone. As a cautionary not it may be advisable to lay off drinking milk as it could have the opposite effect.
Studies have proved that adding just a small amount of fat to your diet can raise levels by up to 13%
4. Come Off The Birth Control Pill
Studies have shown that taking the oral birth control pill can reduce T levels by as much as 61%.
Its main purpose is to reduce levels of estrogen and progesterone but it also has a direct effect on testosterone too.
It increases levels of an enzyme called SHBG (Sex Hormone bInding Globulin) this attaches itself to testosterone in the blood and renders it useless in the body
5. Take A Supplement Containing Proven T-boosting Ingredients
While I would not advocate for one minute taking anabolic steroids, largely because of the inherent health risks but also because of the fact that most owned not want to end up looking like the michelin man.
A well formulated natural T boosting supplement or specialist multi vitamin could however, provide some amazing results.
Look for one that contains effective ingredients, 3 in particular that are known to be truly effective and more importantly – Natural and SAFE.
Estrogen and Testosterone Hormones, Women and Men, & Libido
A hormone is a chemical substance produced by an endocrine gland that has a specific effect on the activities of other organs in the body. The major sex hormones can be classified as estrogens or androgens. Both classes of hormones are present in males and females alike, but in vastly different amounts. Most men produce 8-10 mg of testosterone (an androgen) per day, compared to most women who produce 0.5mg of testosterone per day. Estrogens are also present in both sexes, but in larger amounts for women.
The Importance of Estrogen
Estrogens are the sex hormones produced primarily by a female’s ovaries that stimulate the growth of a girl’s sex organs, as well as her breasts and pubic hair, known as secondary sex characteristics. Estrogens also regulate the functioning of the menstrual cycle.
In the majority of women, ovarian hormones appear not to play a significant role in their sex drive. In one study of women under the age of 40, 90 percent reported experiencing no change in sexual desire or functioning after sex hormone production was shut down because of the removal of both ovaries.
In women, estrogens are important in maintaining the condition of the vaginal lining and its elasticity, and in producing vaginal lubrication. They also help preserve the texture and function of a woman’s breasts.
In men, estrogens have no known function. An unusually high level, however, may reduce sexual appetite, cause erectile difficulties, produce some breast enlargement, and result in the loss of body hair in some men.
Testosterone’s Function in Men & Women
Testosterone is a hormone classified as an androgen. Androgens are sex hormones produced primarily by a male’s testes, but are also produced in small amounts by the female’s ovaries and the adrenal gland, an organ found in both sexes.
Androgens help trigger the development of the testes and penis in the male fetus. They jump start the process of puberty and influence the development of facial, body and pubic hair, deepening of the voice, and muscle development, the male secondary sex characteristics.
After puberty, androgens, specifically testosterone, play a role in the regulation of the sex drive. Large deficiencies of testosterone may cause a drop in sexual desire, while excessive testosterone may heighten sexual interest in both sexes. However, testosterone levels are poorly correlated with sexual interest and drive when they are within the average range. Sex drive is much more likely to be affected by external stimuli (sights, sound, touch) than by variations in sex hormones, except in extreme cases.
In men, too little testosterone may cause difficulty obtaining or maintaining erections, but it is not clear whether testosterone deficiencies interfere with female sexual functioning apart from reducing desire.
However, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that because women have less testosterone than men do, they have lower sexual interest than their male counterparts. Instead, it seems that women detect and react to much smaller amounts of testosterone in their circulation than men do.
Aging, illness and certain cancer treatments can affect our bodies’ delicate hormonal balance, causing changes in sexual interest and functioning. Familiar to most are the changes that occur when a woman goes through menopause. Estrogen production drops throughout this process as a woman exits her child-bearing years.
The major sexual impact of decreased estrogen is a shrinking of the vagina and thinning of the vaginal walls, along with a loss of elasticity and decreased vaginal lubrication during sexual arousal. Some women experience only slight changes in sexual functioning, while others have dryness and pain with intercourse, or genital soreness for a few days after sexual activity, if they don’t use a vaginal lubricant or take some form of hormone replacement.
Researchers investigating the effects of hormone replacement therapy for women on sexual functioning have shown that taking estrogen often allows sexual functioning to return to normal. In addition, androgens have been prescribed for postmenopausal women to enhance their sexual desire.
Perhaps less well known is the fact that men sometimes experience lowered testosterone levels, which can be responsible for sexual dysfunction. How this hormonal decrease affects the man’s sex drive and erections remains unclear. But urologists, as a treatment for these difficulties, sometimes recommend testosterone replacement therapy. There is a great deal yet to be learned about which men and women may require and benefit from hormone-replacement therapy.
It is tempting to try to understand sexual behavior solely in terms of hormones. In many animal species hormones that control the female’s willingness to mate and the courtship and sexual behavior of the male tightly regulate patterns of sexual behavior.
In humans, however, there is a more complicated relationship between hormones and sexual behavior. Although a substantial testosterone deficiency usually reduces sexual interest in men and women, there are cases in which that effect is not seen.
Similarly, although many men with below normal testosterone levels have difficulty with erections, not all do. Women who have low amounts of estrogen in their bodies do not lose their ability to be sexually aroused or to have orgasms.
In short, sex hormones are not the only factors affecting sexual interest or behavior. If you are concerned about your hormone levels and whether they may be effecting your general health or your sexual functioning, consult your doctor for some easily performed and (almost) painless laboratory blood work.
The Biology of Hair Lengths: Why it’s Natural for Women to Have Longer Hair
Yes, there does seem to be a built-in biological process that causes women to have longer hair than men (generally speaking, of course). This process is due to our hormones. First, I need to explain how our hair grows. Men and women’s hair grow at pretty much the same rate of about 1cm per month. So the difference is not that women’s hair grows faster. 1) Castro, J. (2014). How Fast Does Hair Grow?. [online] Live Science. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/42868-how-fast-does-hair-grow.html [Accessed 12 Feb. 2018].
Our hair grows and sheds in a three-stage process which keeps repeating itself. So we keep cycling through the phases and each of the hairs on our head are in a different phase at any given time (with about 90% being in the growing phase). 2) Geggel, L. (2017). Hair Loss and Balding: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments. [online] Live Science. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/34731-hair-loss-alopecia-treatment.html [Accessed 12 Feb. 2018]. However, our hormones are a major factor which can determine how long we stay in a particular phase.
Anagen – Hair growth phase (lasts 2-7 years)
Catagen – Transition phase (lasts about 10 days)
Telogen – Resting or shedding phase (lasts about 3 months)
I recommend you watch this short video to help you visualize and understand these three phases better:
As mentioned our hormones play a significant role in how long we stay in a particular phase. Obviously if one stays in the anagen (hair growth phase) for a longer time, they will have longer hair. And this is exactly the case: women tend to stay in this phase longer than men.
Pastor John MacArthur explains,
“Men and women have distinctive physiologies. One obvious difference is the process of hair growth. Head hair develops in three stages: formation and growth, resting, and fallout. The male hormone testosterone speeds up the cycle so that men reach the third stage earlier than women. The female hormone estrogen causes the cycle to remain in stage one for a longer period, causing women’s hair to grow longer than men’s.” 3) MacArthur, John (2011). Divine design. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, p.49.
Now that is a theologian’s perspective, but is that backed up scientifically? Since dermatology is not a field I’m an expert in, I had to do some digging and I found out that MacArthur is absolutely correct in his assessment.
Here’s what some authorities specializing in hair biology say:
“The cause of pattern thinning in men is primarily related to two sex hormones, testosterone and DHT. The body converts testosterone into the hormone DHT by way of an enzyme found in various tissues throughout the body…In men…DHT increases the resting (telogen) phase and decreases the growing (anagen) phase of hair.” 4) Rassman, W. and Bernstein, R. (2009). Hair loss & replacement for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, p.61.
“DHT affects hair follicles and seems to prolong the telogen (resting) phase.” 5) Sherrow, V. (2006). Encyclopedia of hair. Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Greenwood Press, p.173.
“In women, hair loss or noticeable thinning of the hair often occurs when levels of the female hormone estrogen decline after menopause. Prior to that time estrogen helps to counteract testosterone, which can be converted into the hormone DHT, which can cause hair follicles to…enter the resting stage of the hair growth cycle earlier than normal.” 6) Sherrow, V. (2006). Encyclopedia of hair. Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Greenwood Press, p.173.
“There is some limited trichogram data to suggest that estrogens decrease the resting phase and prolong the growing phase of the hair cycle, hence estrogens are used in the treatment of female pattern hair loss in some countries.” 7) Thornton, J. and Stevenson, S. (2007). Effect of estrogens on skin aging and the potential role of SERMs. Clinical Interventions in Aging, Volume 2, pp.283-297.
In these sources, we see that the hormone DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) keeps a person in the resting/shedding phase longer and in the growing phase for a shorter period of time. While both genders can produce DHT, the female hormone estrogen counteracts testosterone (which is what gets converted to DHT). So that’s why DHT has more of effect on men unless a woman has low amounts of estrogen. We also see that estrogen decreases the resting phase and keeps a woman in the growing phase of the hair cycle for longer. When your hair is in the growing phase for longer, it obviously has more time to get longer.