Testosterone and your health

S. Sean Younai, MD, FACS

Article by
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

The word Testosterone has become anonymous with sex drive and masculinity.  However, testosterone is a human hormone which plays a significant role in many essential functions in the body of men and women. Depletion of a man or a woman’s Testosterone level with aging can affect muscle strength and repair, bone strength and repair, favorable body composition, belly fat, mental and emotional well-being, cognitive function and memory, overall mood, and cardiovascular health.  Therefore, monitoring your testosterone levels and adjusting them with natural testosterone supplements such as testosterone creams or injections can help optimize your body function and overall health.

Men have peak testosterone levels around 18 years of age and have a progressive decrease of 1% per year beginning in the mid 20’s.  Testosterone is both free and bound in the blood.  When testosterone is bound, it is inactive.  Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is a protein that binds testosterone and increases with age.  SHBG can increase from 1-2% per year in an aging male.  What this means is less testosterone produced as well as less ‘free’ testosterone which creates a total loss of 2-3% per year.  Recovery from physical activity takes much longer, aches and pains begin to appear, the body becomes ‘softer’ or fatter, overall body-fat begins to climb, waistline typically increases in girth, and libido may begin to decline noticeably.  Uncorrected, the male will eventually be left with a growing belly, an overall decrease in lean muscle, a significant loss of libido, progressive aches and pains, and overall drop in quality of life.  With a proper testosterone replacement regimen, many if not all of the above symptoms can be successfully reversed as health and quality of life are restored. 

Women at the time of menopause often have little to no detectable testosterone.  This drop in testosterone contributes to the average weight gain of 15 pounds, which most women experience when they hit menopause.  Weight gain around the hips and thighs with a decrease in skin elasticity often results, creating a flabby and wrinkled appearance throughout the body and face as well (famous “crow's feet”).  Additionally, many women have decreasing testosterone levels well before full menopause is reached.  Without healthy testosterone levels, body-fat accumulates onto the body much more easily and calcium begins to leach from bone.  Women who are deficient in testosterone often have osteoporosis to some degree because the bones have been leaching calcium for years prior to and leading up to menopause.  Through restoration of testosterone levels and other key hormones (such as estradiol and progesterone) the body regains the ability to build lean muscle, repair and strengthen bone, and generally respond favorably to exercise and diet efforts.  All of these benefits combine to greatly enhance overall health as well as quality of life issues such as mood, energy, libido, improved appearance, and less overall age-related aches and pains.