Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group. Testosterone is primarily secreted from the testes of males. In females, it is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and by conversion of adrostenedione in the periphery. It is the principal male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. In both males and females, it plays key roles in health and well-being. Examples include enhanced libido, energy, immune function, and protection against osteoporosis. On average, the adult male body produces about twenty times the amount of testosterone than an adult female's body does.
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In accordance with sperm competition theory, testosterone levels are shown to increase as a response to previously neutral stimuli when conditioned to become sexual in male rats. This reaction engages penile reflexes (such as erection and ejaculation) that aid in sperm competition when more than one male is present in mating encounters, allowing for more production of successful sperm and a higher chance of reproduction.
Researchers at Ball State University found that “strength training can induce growth hormone and testosterone release.” (6) Another study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center researched the acute effects of weight lifting on serum testosterone levels. (7) The results concluded that even moderate weight lifting and light weightlifting increased serum testosterone levels in participants.
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Cross-sectional studies conducted at the time of diagnosis of BPH have failed to show consistent differences in testosterone levels between patients and controls. A prospective study also failed to demonstrate a correlation between testosterone and the development of BPH (Gann et al 1995). Clinical trials have shown that testosterone treatment of hypogonadal men does cause growth of the prostate, but only to the size seen in normal men, and also causes a small increase in prostate specific antigen (PSA) within the normal range (Rhoden and Morgentaler 2005). Despite growth of the prostate a number of studies have failed to detect any adverse effects on symptoms of urinary obstruction or physiological measurements such as flow rates and residual volumes (Snyder et al 1999; Kenny et al 2000, 2001). Despite the lack of evidence linking symptoms of BPH to testosterone treatment, it remains important to monitor for any new or deteriorating problems when commencing patients on testosterone treatment, as the small growth of prostate tissue may adversely affect a certain subset of individuals.
Mental status changes including excess aggression are a well known phenomenon in the context of anabolic steroid abuse (Perry et al 1990). An increase in self-reported aggressive behaviors have also been reported in one double blind placebo controlled trial of testosterone in young hypogonadal men (Finkelstein et al 1997), but this has not been confirmed in other studies (Skakkebaek et al 1981; O’Connor et al 2002). Aggression should therefore be monitored but in our experience is rarely a significant problem during testosterone replacement producing physiological levels.