Testosterone is a key sex hormone that greatly influences the male body—from its reproductive system and sexuality to bone density and muscle mass. Women have testosterone, too, but in significantly smaller amounts. A male begins producing hormones as early as a few weeks after conception. Testosterone levels rise during puberty and peak during the late teens. In the 20s, male testosterone levels off. After age 30, it begins to decline, dropping off gradually with progressive years.
The production of testosterone is regulated by the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus of the brain signals the pituitary gland about the amount of testosterone to produce. The pituitary gland then sends the signal to the testicles, as most testosterone is produced there. A small amount of testosterone is produced in the adrenal glands.
The rising levels of testosterone during puberty are responsible for the growth of the penis, the testicles, and pubic hair. Increasing testosterone also contributes to growing sexual desire.
Testosterone is essential for muscle development. The presence of higher levels of testosterone increases neurotransmitters that encourage muscle tissues to grow. Testosterone is also involved in protein synthesis. It increases the levels of growth hormone, facilitating muscle formation.
Testosterone is important in metabolizing fat. It is also responsible for the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Men are more prone to bone fractures when they have low testosterone.
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