2 min|Rhiannon Lockhart

Get to Know Your Hormones: Testosterone


Testosterone: Beyond Gender, Beyond Stereotypes

Testosterone is another essential sex hormone to discuss in our series: Get to know your Hormones. While it is often associated as a male hormone, it is also invaluable in the female reproductive system. For both sexes, excess or lack of testosterone can lead to a host of health issues as outlined below.

Overview of Testosterone

Testosterone is mainly produced by the gonads – testicles in males and ovaries in females – and adrenal glands via conversion from DHEA through androstenedione and androstenediol. The secretion of testosterone is managed by a negative feedback loop through the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. (1) Levels of testosterone are higher in males than females, and are often highest in the morning, waning in the evening.

Testosterone plays a key role in fetal development. Until around 6 weeks, the reproductive tissue in the fetus is the same for both males and females until testosterone begins to differentiate and create the internal and external structures of the male reproductive organs around 7 weeks.

It is also essential in puberty for males as testosterone is responsible for the development of the secondary sex characteristics, i.e. facial and pubic hair, voice changes, as well as sperm production and libido. (2)

In both sexes, testosterone is involved in bone density, muscle mass and fat production. Testosterone also converts to estradiol, the more potent estrogen, in females via aromatization.

What are symptoms of testosterone deficiency?

Low testosterone levels can impact both sexes. Here are some ways that a testosterone deficiency may impact you:

What are symptoms of excess testosterone?

  • Adrenal tumours (6)
  • Ovarian or testicular tumours (7)
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in females
  • With some less severe (but still life impacting) symptoms including:
  • Acne
  • Mood swings
  • Stunted growth
  • Weight gain
  • Irritable behaviour
Ideally, we want all of our hormones to be in the correct balance, especially as they feed off of each other to help the body communicate with itself. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, speak with your practitioner about hormone support and testing you can access.

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1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4373369/
2. https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/home/men-s-health-issues/biology-of-the-male-reproductive-system/puberty-in-boys
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10442580/
4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033318213001333
5. https://health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/testosterone--what-it-does-and-doesnt-do
6. https://www.rogelcancercenter.org/adrenal-cancer/learn-about-adrenal-cancer
7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31499493/
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