Most people know that testosterone is essentially what makes men “men,” at least on a physical level. It gives them a competitive drive, motivation to complete tasks, energy, muscle mass, and libido. Without adequate testosterone, men get lazy, pack on pounds, get flabby, and can’t perform sexually. But did you know that testosterone is also essential for men’s health overall? Every major organ system in the body has testosterone receptors. That means when a man has low testosterone, his entire body can’t function normally.
Let’s get into what testosterone does in a man’s body, starting at the top.
Testosterone has a major influence on a man’s brain. Adequate levels are necessary for it to function optimally. According to multiple studies, men with optimal testosterone levels have fewer signs of senility than men whose testosterone levels are low. A normal testosterone level has even been shown to protect men from developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Testosterone is essential for the heart to pump strongly due to various chemical processes that naturally occur in the body. Low testosterone is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease, even in the absence of other health conditions. Studies have shown that when men who have low testosterone are given testosterone replacement therapy, their risk of death goes down by about 50%.
The liver has hundreds of jobs. Some of the most important are detoxifying the body and getting rid of harmful substances and waste, metabolizing food so it can be used for energy, aiding in digestion, producing blood clotting factors, and storing vitamins and minerals. Testosterone is essential for the liver to be able to synthesize proteins so it can do its job. When a man has low testosterone, he’s at a higher risk of developing fatty liver disease, even if he’s otherwise healthy.
Testosterone stimulates the production of erythropoietin (EPO), a chemical naturally produced by the kidneys that leads to the production of red blood cells. Testosterone replacement therapy has also been shown to reduce the progression of kidney disease in men who had low testosterone.
Besides regulating libido and erectile function, testosterone is essential for the production of sperm. It also makes the prostate able to produce semen.
Testosterone increases muscle protein synthesis and prevents muscle from being broken down. It also increases human growth hormone, which is important for building muscle. Studies have found that weightlifting stimulates the body’s production of testosterone, leading to an increase in muscle size and strength. However, this effect goes down as you get older, which is why testosterone replacement therapy can be helpful in maintaining muscle mass.
Men need testosterone to keep their bones strong and healthy. In fact, supplemental testosterone can actually reverse osteoporosis (low bone density) in men.
Testosterone is necessary for collagen production. Collagen is what keeps the skin soft, elastic, and young-looking. That’s why low testosterone can cause a man to look older than he really is. Optimizing testosterone levels can actually decrease wrinkles and rough skin in a man’s face.
These are really just a few of the important functions of testosterone in the male body. We’ll get into more about how testosterone is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, preventing diabetes, and lots of other health topics in future posts.