Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone that plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as testes and prostate, as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics like increased muscle and bone mass, and the growth of body hair. Although testosterone is considered a male hormone, it is also produced in smaller amounts in women, where it helps maintain bone and muscle strength, and contributes to sex drive (libido).
In males, testosterone production starts to increase significantly during puberty, leading to deepening of the voice, increased muscle mass, growth of facial and body hair, and the development of the Adam’s apple.
In addition to its role in physical development and sexuality, testosterone also impacts mood and mental capacity. Low testosterone levels in men can lead to mood swings, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, decreased bone density (osteoporosis), and diminished sex drive.
Testosterone levels can be influenced by a variety of factors such as age, diet, exercise, and overall health. Levels naturally decline with age, and this can lead to symptoms often associated with aging, such as thinning hair and decreased energy.
Testosterone can also be synthetically produced and is used in hormone therapies, often for men who have low testosterone levels, a condition known as hypogonadism. However, testosterone replacement therapy should be used cautiously, as it can have side effects and risks, including contributing to sleep apnea, causing skin reactions, stimulating noncancerous growth of the prostate, and increasing the risk of heart disease.