In males, testosterone is synthesized primarily in Leydig cells. The number of Leydig cells in turn is regulated by luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In addition, the amount of testosterone produced by existing Leydig cells is under the control of LH, which regulates the expression of 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase.
‘Testosterone boosting’ products - found online, or in health food or body-building shops, these products claim to boost testosterone levels if you buy them. The majority of these products will not have the effect you want and are not worth spending money on. Any of these products that do have a real effect may have a form of prescription medication in which is both dangerous and illegal.
Recently, a panel with cooperation from international andrology and urology societies, published specific recommendations with regard to the diagnosis of Late-onset Hypogonadism (Nieschlag et al 2005). These are summarized in the following text. It is advised that at least two serum testosterone measurements, taken before 11 am on different mornings, are necessary to confirm the diagnosis. The second sample should also include measurement of gonadotrophin and prolactin levels, which may indicate the need for further investigations for pituitary disease. Patients with serum total testosterone consistently below 8 nmol/l invariably demonstrate the clinical syndrome of hypogonadism and are likely to benefit from treatment. Patients with serum total testosterone in the range 8–12 nmol/l often have symptoms attributable to hypogonadism and it may be decided to offer either a clinical trial of testosterone treatment or to make further efforts to define serum bioavailable or free testosterone and then reconsider treatment. Patients with serum total testosterone persistently above 12 nmol/l do not have hypogonadism and symptoms are likely to be due to other disease states or ageing per se so testosterone treatment is not indicated.
A: Testosterone production declines naturally with age. Low testosterone, or testosterone deficiency (TD), may result from disease or damage to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, or testicles that inhibits hormone secretion and testosterone production. Treatment involves hormone replacement therapy. The method of delivery is determined by age and duration of deficiency. Oral testosterone, Testred (methyltestosterone), is associated with liver toxicity and liver tumors and so is prescribed sparingly. Transdermal delivery with a testosterone patch is becoming the most common method of treatment for testosterone deficiency in adults. A patch is worn, either on the scrotum or elsewhere on the body, and testosterone is released through the skin at controlled intervals. Patches are typically worn for 12 or 24 hours and can be worn during exercise, bathing, and strenuous activity. Two transdermal patches that are available are Androderm (nonscrotal) and Testoderm (scrotal). The Androderm patch is applied to the abdomen, lower back, thigh, or upper arm and should be applied at the same time every evening between 8 p.m. and midnight. If the patch falls off before noon, replace it with a fresh patch until it is time to reapply a new patch that evening. If the patch falls off after noon, do not replace it until you reapply a new patch that evening. The most common side effects associated with transdermal patch therapy include itching, discomfort, and irritation at the site of application. Some men may experience fluid retention, acne, and temporary abnormal breast development (gynecosmastia). AndroGel and Testim are transdermal gels that are applied once daily to the clean dry skin of the upper arms or abdomen. When used properly, these gels deliver testosterone for 24 hours. The gel must be allowed to dry on the skin before dressing and must be applied at least 6 hours before showering or swimming. Gels cannot be applied to the genitals. AndroGel is available in a metered-dose pump, which allows physicians to adjust the dosage of the medication. Side effects of transdermal gels include adverse reactions at the site of application, acne, headache, and hair loss (alopecia). For more specific information on treatments for low testosterone, consult with your doctor or pharmacist for guidance based on current health condition. Kimberly Hotz, PharmD
The normal development of the prostate gland is dependent on the action of testosterone via the androgen receptor, and abnormal biosynthesis of the hormone or inactivating mutations of the androgen receptor are associated with a rudimentary prostate gland. Testosterone also requires conversion to dihydrotestosterone in the prostate gland for full activity. In view of this link between testosterone and prostate development, it is important to consider the impact that testosterone replacement may have on the prevalence and morbidity associated with benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostate cancer, which are the common conditions related to pathological growth of the prostate gland.
The testicles produce an enzyme called 11ßHSD-1 which protects your testosterone molecules from the effects cortisol. During times of prolonged stress and chronically elevated cortisol, there simply is too much cortisol for 11ßHSD-1 to handle. This results in testosterone molecules being destroyed inside the gonads before they even enter the bloodstream (8, 9).
That testosterone decreases with age has been clearly established by many studies over many years in several different populations of men (Harman et al 2001; Feldman et al 2002; Araujo et al 2004; Kaufman and Vermeulen 2005). Of even greater significance is the steeper fall of the most biologically active fraction of total testosterone, non-sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)- bound testosterone, or bioavailable testosterone (bio-T). The classical, but not the only approach to measuring bio-T, is to precipitate out SHBG (and hence the testosterone which is strongly bound to it as well) and measure the remainder as total testosterone (Tremblay 2003). Vermeulen et al (1999) have devised a less tedious and less expensive method of measuring a surrogate for bio-T, namely calculated bio-T, inserting total T, albumin, SHBG and a constant into a mathematical formulation. There is a strong correlation between actual bio-T and calculated bio-T (Emadi-Konjin et al 2003).
The effects of testosterone in humans and other vertebrates occur by way of two main mechanisms: by activation of the androgen receptor (directly or as DHT), and by conversion to estradiol and activation of certain estrogen receptors. Free testosterone (T) is transported into the cytoplasm of target tissue cells, where it can bind to the androgen receptor, or can be reduced to 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the cytoplasmic enzyme 5α-reductase. DHT binds to the same androgen receptor even more strongly than T, so that its androgenic potency is about 2.5 times that of T. The T-receptor or DHT-receptor complex undergoes a structural change that allows it to move into the cell nucleus and bind directly to specific nucleotide sequences of the chromosomal DNA. The areas of binding are called hormone response elements (HREs), and influence transcriptional activity of certain genes, producing the androgen effects.
A large number of trials have demonstrated a positive effect of testosterone treatment on bone mineral density (Katznelson et al 1996; Behre et al 1997; Leifke et al 1998; Snyder et al 2000; Zacharin et al 2003; Wang, Cunningham et al 2004; Aminorroaya et al 2005; Benito et al 2005) and bone architecture (Benito et al 2005). These effects are often more impressive in longer trials, which have shown that adequate replacement will lead to near normal bone density but that the full effects may take two years or more (Snyder et al 2000; Wang, Cunningham et al 2004; Aminorroaya et al 2005). Three randomized placebo-controlled trials of testosterone treatment in aging males have been conducted (Snyder et al 1999; Kenny et al 2001; Amory et al 2004). One of these studies concerned men with a mean age of 71 years with two serum testosterone levels less than 12.1nmol/l. After 36 months of intramuscular testosterone treatment or placebo, there were significant increases in vertebral and hip bone mineral density. In this study, there was also a significant decrease in the bone resorption marker urinary deoxypyridinoline with testosterone treatment (Amory et al 2004). The second study contained men with low bioavailable testosterone levels and an average age of 76 years. Testosterone treatment in the form of transdermal patches was given for 1 year. During this trial there was a significant preservation of hip bone mineral density with testosterone treatment but testosterone had no effect on bone mineral density at other sites including the vertebrae. There were no significant alterations in bone turnover markers during testosterone treatment (Kenny et al 2001). The remaining study contained men of average age 73 years. Men were eligible for the study if their serum total testosterone levels were less than 16.5 nmol/L, meaning that the study contained men who would usually be considered eugonadal. The beneficial effects of testosterone on bone density were confined to the men who had lower serum testosterone levels at baseline and were seen only in the vertebrae. There were no significant changes in bone turnover markers. Testosterone in the trial was given via scrotal patches for a 36 month duration (Snyder et al 1999). A recent meta-analysis of the effects on bone density of testosterone treatment in men included data from these studies and two other randomized controlled trials. The findings were that testosterone produces a significant increase of 2.7% in the bone mineral density at the lumber spine but no overall change at the hip (Isidori et al 2005). These results from randomized controlled trials in aging men show much smaller benefits of testosterone treatment on bone density than have been seen in other trials. This could be due to the trials including patients who are not hypogonadal and being too short to allow for the maximal effects of testosterone. The meta-analysis also assessed the data concerning changes of bone formation and resorption markers during testosterone treatment. There was a significant decrease in bone resorption markers but no change in markers of bone formation suggesting that reduction of bone resorption may be the primary mode of action of testosterone in improving bone density (Isidori et al 2005).
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
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An added testosterone benefit of my high fat and balanced protein and carb diet was that it probably helped me lose some body fat (I went from 18% to 12% body fat). Studies show that high fat diets actually contribute to increased body fat loss. And as we discussed earlier, as you lose body fat, your T production ramps up. Virtuous cycle for the win!
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Carbs play a big part in determining your Testosterone levels. Let's start with what to avoid. First, research shows that a large serving of sugar (75g of glucose), decreased Testosterone levels by as much as 25%! (25 & 26). I know this is a pretty extreme dosage, but you may want to avoid massive servings of sugar! Also, men who have Metabolic syndrome have lower Testosterone levels (27). Metabolic syndrome is often brought about by chronic high blood sugar which leads to insulin resistance.
Does the diminution that age brings with it in both total and bioavailable T have any clinical significance? This question leads us to the theme of this paper, “The Many Faces of Testosterone”. If testosterone were simply a “sex hormone” involved only with sexual desire and arousal we might tend to dismiss testosterone treatment in the aging man as merely a “life-style” therapy without any substantive basis for broad physiological necessity. The fact is, however, that the sexual attributes of testosterone are the least of its physiological necessities and that testosterone has a broad spectrum of demonstrated physiological functions as well as a wide variety of physiological and pathophysiological associations about which we are just learning.
^ Butenandt A, Hanisch G (1935). "Umwandlung des Dehydroandrosterons in Androstendiol und Testosterone; ein Weg zur Darstellung des Testosterons aus Cholestrin" [About Testosterone. Conversion of Dehydro-androsterons into androstendiol and testosterone; a way for the structure assignment of testosterone from cholesterol]. Hoppe-Seyler's Z Physiol Chem (in German). 237 (2): 89–97. doi:10.1515/bchm2.1935.237.1-3.89.
If a young man's low testosterone is a problem for a couple trying to get pregnant, gonadotropin injections may be an option in some cases. These are hormones that signal the body to produce more testosterone. This may increase the sperm count. Hedges also describes implantable testosterone pellets, a relatively new form of treatment in which several pellets are placed under the skin of the buttocks, where they release testosterone over the course of about three to four months. Injections and nasal gels may be other options for some men.