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Low testosterone and age

When you think of declining levels of testosterone, you might think of middle-aged or older men. But men under 30 can also experience low testosterone, or low T.

According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone levels tend to peak in men during adolescence and early adulthood. Those levels typically decline by about 1 percent each year, starting around age 30. But in some cases, you may experience declining testosterone at a younger age.

Low T is a medical condition where your body doesnt produce enough of the hormone testosterone. Both men and women produce testosterone, but its called the male hormone because men produce a lot more of it. Its critical for many male characteristics, including the maturation of male sex organs, sperm development, muscle mass development, voice deepening, and hair growth. Low T can cause a variety of symptoms, including erectile dysfunction, infertility, muscle mass loss, fat gain, and balding.

If you think you might be experiencing low T, make an appointment with your doctor. In some cases, it is caused by unhealthy lifestyle habits that you can change. In other cases, it is caused by an underlying medical condition that requires treatment. Your doctor can help you identify the cause of your symptoms and learn how to manage them.

Some advertisements for testosterone replacement products may lead you to believe that simply feeling tired or cranky is a sign of low T. In reality, symptoms tend to be more involved than that. Regardless of your age, low T symptoms can include:

Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions or lifestyle factors. If youre experiencing them, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help you identify the underlying cause and recommend a treatment plan.

Low T is less common among men under 30, but it can still occur. Contributing factors include:

Some cases of low T may be linked to other medical conditions, such as:

If you suspect that you might have low T, make an appointment with your doctor. They can use a simple blood test to determine your testosterone level.

If your doctor finds that your testosterone level is lower than normal, they may order additional tests or do an exam to investigate why. Your treatment plan will depend on your diagnosis and medical history. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or testosterone replacement therapy.

You should always talk to your doctor before taking new medications, including testosterone replacement therapy and supplements. According to research published in PLOSOne, testosterone therapy may increase your risk of heart attack, particularly if you already have heart disease. Your doctor can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of different treatment options.

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Dec 29th, 2022 | Filed under Testosterone

Introduction

The application of the knowledgeon dihydrotestosterone-related processes spans from the prenatal development of organs to the aging-related complications in males. A clinician can single-handedly tackle the issues that occur out throughout the age spectrum. This hormone finds its utility as an essential hormone in males until puberty, after which it is considered an etiology for certain diseases. Thedualfunction of this hormone places it in the basic science and applied field of medicine. This article aims to outline thebasic biochemistry of the hormone, its physiological functions at different stages of development, and its role in certain pathological conditions.

Androgens are endogenous steroid hormones. They consist of the hormones dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is the most potent hormone among the androgens and is considered a pure androgen as it cannot convert into estrogen. It is formed primarily in peripheral tissues of the body, where it exerts its effects. Testosterone converts to DHT by the action of the 5 alpha-reductase enzyme at these target tissues.[1]This isolated synthesis at a specific target tissue makes DHT primarily a paracrine hormone.[2] Asit is produced mainly in the liver, only small amounts are present in the systemic circulation.[3][4]It plays a vital role in the sexual development of males. During embryonic life, it is involved primarily in the sexual differentiation of organs. Through adolescence and adult life, DHT promotes prostate growth, sebaceous gland activity, male pattern baldness, and body, facial and pubic hair growth. This hormone, however, does not seem to play any significant role in normal female physiology. The mutations leading to dramatic losses of DHT in females only have minor effects on their normal physiology. The various functions of DHT are highlighted in the respective pathologies discussed in this article.

Aswith any other disease, a deficiency or an excess of the DHT hormone leads to specific pathologies. These pathologies require identification and treatment for the adequate development and functioning of the genital organs, specifically in males. The hormone deficiency requires special attention as it affects the prenatal sexual differentiation of a fetus, which sets forth a cascade of maldevelopment issues that are unmasked only during puberty.

Cholesterol is the precursor molecule for DHT synthesis, which passes through a series of reactions to form testosterone. Testosterone is then reduced by the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase at the target tissues to form DHT. This reduction step involves the use of NADPH to remove a double bond in the testosterone molecule. There are three isoenzymes of 5-alpha-reductase: types 1, 2, and 3. 5-alpha-reductase type 2 is the most prevalent and the most biologically active isoenzyme.[1]This enzyme is present primarily at the target tissues where DHT exerts its actions, allowing the conversion of testosterone to DHT to occur only at these specific sites.[1]

DHT is significantly more potent than the other androgens; this is due to the high affinity of DHT to the androgen receptor, its slow dissociation, and a long half-life. Compared to testosterone, DHT has approximately double the binding affinity to the androgen receptor and a dissociation rate about five times slower.[1]The enzyme 3-alpha-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, which is present in the DHT target tissues and the liver, is responsible for the metabolism of DHT. The metabolism yields inactive metabolites, which are excreted in the urine.[3]

DHT plays a critical function in the sexual development of males, beginning early in prenatal life. The role of DHT differs as males progress through the different stages of development. It has various impacts on their physiology during childhood, puberty, and even throughout adult life.

Prenatal

During sexual development, various embryological structures develop under the influence of a variety of genes and hormones. A specific and unique environment of hormones results in male or female differentiation of structures. In males, testosterone, anti-mullerian hormone (AMH), and DHT act in concert to inhibit female differentiation and promote the development of the male phenotype. DHT is essential for the formation of the male external genitalia. The testicular Leydig cells produce testosterone under the influence of placental human chorionic gonadotropin by around day 60 of prenatal development. The luteinizing hormone (LH) from the fetal pituitary takes over testosterone production by roughly week 16. The peripheral 5-alpha-reductase type 2 converts circulating fetal testosterone to DHT, which is responsible for proper male differentiation of the urogenital sinus, the genital tubercle, urogenital fold, and labio-scrotal folds. This activity leads to the formation of the penis, scrotum, and prostate. DHT, along with insulin-like factor 3 (INSL3), helps stimulate gubernacular growth required for testicular descent. The absence of DHT may lead to ambiguous male external genitalia and undescended testis. Sex steroids accumulate from testicular production of testosterone in the male fetus and placental production of estrogen in both sexes, causing negative feedback on fetal pituitary, which helps control gonadotropin levels in the womb.

Childhood

After birth, the loss of placental estrogen removes negative feedback on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, which results in a transient increase in its activity in both sexes for the first few months of life. In males, this promotes a rise in testosterone levels and, therefore, DHT. The negative feedback on the HPG axis recovers by six months of age and the levels of sex hormones remain low until adrenarche.

Adrenarche typically occurs around six years of age in both sexes. The adrenal gland develops a new layer, the zona reticularis. This layer of the adrenal gland produces androgens, including testosterone, which increases systemic testosterone, leading to the development of sebaceous and apocrine glands, contributing to the development of minor acne and body odor. Testosterone production continues to increase as the zona reticularis continues to mature. There is enough peripheral conversion of testosterone into DHT by age 10 to result in pubic hair development. These events of adrenarche are distinct from puberty though they often coincide.

Puberty

An increase in the activity of the HPG axis characterizes the onset of puberty. Hypothalamic secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) increases, stimulating pituitary LH secretion, which increases testosterone production from the testes. The increase in systemic testosterone is associated with a significant conversion to DHT at its target tissues. This DHT promotes further growth and maturation of the penis and scrotum. DHT is also the primary androgen responsible for facial hair, body hair, pubic hair, and prostate growth. The circulating level of DHT in the blood is only 10% of the circulating level of testosterone. However, the DHT level can be as much as ten times greater than testosterone due to its isolated production in peripheral tissues.[2]

Adult

DHT does not play a significant role in the normal physiology of adults. The most notable effects are prostate enlargement and male pattern hair loss as they age.[5]

The effects of DHT are mediated through the intracellular androgen receptor.It passes through the cell membrane and binds to the androgen receptor in the cytoplasm of the cell. This interaction initiates a cascade leading to the transport of the ligand-androgen receptor complex to the nucleus, where it acts as a transcription factor to alter gene expression.[1]

DHT levels are useful in the diagnosis of 5-alpha-reductase deficiency and male-pattern baldness. The elevated testosterone-to-DHT ratio is a diagnostic of 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. The test is done during early infancy or puberty when the HPG axis is active. The axis becomes stimulated with the administration of hCG in the period between infancy and puberty. The serum DHT level does not directly correlate with the production in peripheral tissues. Its level increases to near-normal following puberty due to the activity of functional 5-alpha-reductase type 1 enzymes. A definitive diagnosis requires genetic testing to identify the aberration. The utility of DHT levels in diagnosing male-pattern alopecia is controversial, with no statistical significance or correlation of DHT levels with the progression of baldness.[6]

The variations in dihydrotestosterone levels are associated with various pathological conditions. These conditions usually affect people in different stages of life.

5-alpha-reductase Deficiency

The 5-alpha-reductase enzyme is involved in the production of DHT. The enzyme deficiencies are an autosomal recessive condition, typically arising due to loss-of-function mutations in the gene encoding 5-alpha-reductase type 2.[7]Males born with a 5-alpha-reductase deficiency have underdeveloped genitalia, undescended functional testes, and a small or absent prostate. The development of the testes and the internal organs of sexual differentiation are unaltered. The presentation is variable depending on the enzyme level. In severe cases, the infants have external genitalia that appears typical for a female, and hence, are raised as one. They have a small clitoris-like penis, an unfused scrotum appearing as labia, and a short, blind-ending vagina. DHT levels are about 30% of their normal values. However, testosterone and AMH are produced normally, maintaining the mesonephric duct and inhibiting the paramesonephric duct, respectively. The testes continue to develop normally, but they fail to descend due to the lack of DHT. At the onset of puberty, the patients have a rapid increase in testosterone production from the testicles leading to the development of many secondary sexual characteristics. Their voice deepens, testes may descend, muscle mass increases, and the penis enlarges. Although DHT is involved in some of these processes at puberty, testosterone levels are sufficiently elevated to induce these changes without its influence, though they remain undervirilized in other ways. Facial hair growth is greatly diminished, and pubic hair grows in a typical female pattern. The prostate does not develop normally. The patients ultimately develop male gender identity and a sexual preference for females. These individuals can become fertile with surgery to correct the male ductal system. Female development is largely unimpacted by a congenital 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. Normal female development is not dependent on significant DHT activity. The low DHT levels may lead to reduced body hair growth and a mild decrease in pubic hair.

Androgen Deficiency

Testosterone is the primary hormone used in androgen-deficiency states like male hypogonadism, androgen deficiency of severe illness, androgen deficiency of aging, and microphallus in infancy. DHT has also been proposed as a treatment for androgen deficiency as it is a pure androgen and does not convert to estrogen. A potential advantage of DHT over testosterone is the reported and seemingly paradoxically muted effects of DHT on prostate growth. The decreased effect of DHT on the prostate gland of humans may be due to the decrease in intraprostatic estradiol levels.[8]

5-alpha-reductase Inhibitors

5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are useful in the treatment of conditions that have excessive DHT activity. The conditions include benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostate cancer, androgenic alopecia (male pattern hair loss), and hirsutism. These drugs work by inhibiting the 5-alpha-reductase enzymes, thereby reducing DHT production in tissues.[9]The most common drugs are finasteride and dutasteride. Finasteride inhibits only 5-alpha-reductase type 2, while dutasteride inhibits both type 1 and type 2 isoforms of the enzyme. Generally, the drugs are well tolerated, though they may diminish libido and sexual function.[9]

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

The prostate has a significant 5-alpha-reductase type 2 activity, producing large amounts of the potent DHT. This local DHT stimulates normal activity but also commonly induces hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the prostate. More than 50% of men over the age of 50 have some degree of BPH.[10]The increase in prostate growth is likely due to increased local production of DHT or increased activity of its receptor.[10]The patients may experience symptoms such as difficulty urinating and sexual dysfunction due to increased prostate growth.

The treatment of BPH mainly involves the administration of alpha-1 adrenergic antagonists. But in some patients, 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, such as finasteride and dutasteride, are indicated. These drugs are effective in reducing the size of the prostate and relieving symptoms associated with BPH.[9]

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer also characteristically demonstrates an increase in the activity of DHT. There is an upregulation in all three isoforms of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. The mutations in genes result in uncontrolled proliferation and inhibition of apoptosis, which are related to pathways involving DHT.[11]The mutations in the androgen receptor also have implications in many cases of prostate cancer.

The 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors: finasteride and dutasteride are effective in treating and decreasing the risk of prostate cancer.[11]Though several clinical trials have demonstrated an overall decrease in prostate cancer incidence with these drugs, patients undergoing these therapies have increased rates of higher-grade cancers.[11]

Male Androgenic Alopecia (MAA)

Male androgenic alopecia is commonly known as male pattern hair loss. It is a form of hair loss occurring commonly on the top and frontal region of the scalp that recedes progressively. Increased DHT activity is responsible, amongst other factors, in the pathophysiology of androgenic alopecia.[6]Men with androgenic alopecia are genetically predisposed to higher 5-alpha-reductase enzyme levels and androgen receptor activity at the hair follicles.[12]Similarly, patients with enzyme deficiency are less likely to be prone to male androgenic alopecia.[12]

The oral 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, such as finasteride, can effectively slow or even reverse this hair loss pattern. In two large randomized controlled trials, approximately 99% of participants showed either a decrease in or reversal of hair loss.[13]The other first-line therapy for treating MAA is topical minoxidil, an arterial vasodilator.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

DHT has a negligible role in regulating normal female physiology. However, there are implications in the pathophysiology of PCOS. It is known to cause an increase in body weight, body fat, serum cholesterol, and adipocyte hypertrophy in experimental mice.[14]Surprisingly, the administration of prenatal DHT in experimental female mice does not induce penile formation.[15]

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Biochemistry, Dihydrotestosterone - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf

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Dec 29th, 2022 | Filed under Testosterone

Vasectomy is the medical term for male sterilization. It is a medical procedure that involves cutting or sealing the tubes that carry sperm into seminal fluid, or semen. While this procedure permanently prevents the semen from containing any sperm, it does not affect testosterone levels.

People considering a vasectomy may worry that their testosterone levels, libido, and sexual functioning will decrease following the procedure. However, vasectomy has no effect on testosterone levels or sexual function.

Additionally, evidence suggests that people who undergo the procedure may experience improvements in their sex life.

This article asks whether a vasectomy affects testosterone levels, libido, and sexual functioning. We also outline some potential long-term side effects and health risks of vasectomy and clarify some common myths about the procedure.

A vasectomy is a medical procedure that involves cutting or sealing the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis. This prevents sperm from reaching the seminal fluid, or semen, which a male ejaculates during sex.

Males who have undergone vasectomy will continue to ejaculate semen, but the semen will not contain sperm.

A vasectomy alters the mechanics that make pregnancy possible, but it does not cause biological changes in males. As such, a vasectomy does not affect testosterone levels a 2018 study found that these procedures had no long-term impact on testosterone levels in men.

Hormonal imbalance occurs when the body produces too much or too little of a certain hormone.

No current evidence suggests vasectomies cause hormonal imbalance in males. For example, a 2018 study showed that these procedures do not affect testosterone levels in men.

Some causes of hormonal imbalances in biological males include:

All surgical procedures have the potential to cause side effects, though vasectomies carry a relatively low risk.

Some potential long-term side effects of vasectomy include:

According to a 2021 review, there is no increased risk with vasectomy and the following health conditions:

However, the review concluded that further study with long-term observation is necessary.

In older guidelines, American Urological Association also stated that vasectomy is not a risk factor for:

A person with concerns about the potential short- or long-term side effects of vasectomy can speak with a doctor.

Current evidence does not suggest that vasectomy causes erectile dysfunction or any form of sexual dysfunction.

A 2020 proposed systematic review notes that studies have demonstrated the following improvements in sexual function among males who have undergone a vasectomy:

A vasectomy prevents sperm from entering semen, which a male releases during ejaculation. It does not affect the production of the hormone testosterone, which is responsible for sex drive.

Sperm makes up a very small amount of male ejaculate, so sexual satisfaction should also not decrease.

In fact, according to a 2017 study, biological males who underwent a vasectomy experienced greater sexual satisfaction following the procedure.

In general, medical professionals view vasectomies as relatively low risk procedures. Most people who undergo a vasectomy can:

However, like all procedures, there are risks of short- and long-term side effects.

According to a 2021 review, common short-term side effects include:

The same review notes the following potential long-term complications:

A person considering undergoing a vasectomy may worry about how the procedure will affect their life.

Studies have shown that a persons sex life can actually improve following a vasectomy. Many people who undergo the procedure report increased sexual activity and sexual satisfaction.

However, some people may experience ongoing fears or concerns relating to vasectomy. A 2018 study noted that individuals who have undergone the procedure may benefit from psychological counseling to address these fears and concerns.

There are many rumors surrounding vasectomy, including those relating to the procedure itself, the risks involved, and the changes a vasectomy may bring to a persons life.

Below are some myths and facts associated with vasectomies.

Fact: Recent studies have shown the opposite is true. Most people report having improved libido, and there may also be improved erections and orgasms following the procedure.

Fact: Most people who undergo vasectomy could return to work within 3 days, and most can resume sex and exercise within 12 weeks.

Fact: While vasectomies are the most effective form of birth control, they do not take effect immediately. A couple will need to continue to use other forms of birth control for several months following the procedure and until a doctor confirms the absence of sperm in the semen.

Fact: Though uncommon, a person can have a vasectomy reversal if they change their mind about having children in the future. However, reversals can sometimes fail, so they should only have a vasectomy if they feel confident that they do not want more children.

Vasectomy is a medical procedure that involves cutting or sealing the tubes that carry sperm into semen. The procedure permanently prevents pregnancy.

People considering a vasectomy may worry about the consequences for their sexual function. However, the evidence suggests that vasectomies have no effect on testosterone levels and have a mostly positive effect on sexual function and satisfaction.

Vasectomies also have a low incidence of both short- and long-term health complications, and doctors generally view the procedure as safe and effective in preventing pregnancy.

However, while it is usually possible to reverse a vasectomy, they sometimes fail. As such, a person should only consider a vasectomy if they feel confident that they do not want any further children.

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Dec 12th, 2022 | Filed under Testosterone
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By Anne Harding, Reuters Health

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study has found a substantial drop in U.S. mens testosterone levels since the 1980s, but the reasons for the decline remain unclear. This trend also does not appear to be related to age.

The average levels of the male hormone dropped by 1 percent a year, Dr. Thomas Travison and colleagues from the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, found. This means that, for example, a 65-year-old man in 2002 would have testosterone levels 15 percent lower than those of a 65-year-old in 1987. This also means that a greater proportion of men in 2002 would have had below-normal testosterone levels than in 1987.

The entire population is shifting somewhat downward we think, Travison told Reuters Health. Were counting on other studies to confirm this.

Travison and his team analyzed data from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, a long-term investigation of aging in about 1,700 Boston-area men. Data from the men were collected for three time intervals: 1987-1989, 1995-1997, and 2002-2004.

While a mans testosterone level will fall steadily as he ages, the researchers observed a speedier decline in average testosterone levels than would have been expected with aging alone.

They hypothesized that the rising prevalence of obesity as well as the sharp decline in cigarette smoking might help explain their findings, given that testosterone levels are lower among overweight people and smoking increases testosterone levels. But these factors accounted for only a small percentage of the observed difference.

Its likely that some sort of environmental exposure is responsible for the testosterone decline, Travison said, although he said attempting to explain what this might be based on the current findings would be pure conjecture.

The researchers used body mass index, the ratio of height to weight, to estimate obesity levels, he noted, but this is not a very accurate way to gauge the real adiposity, or fat content of the body, so its possible that obesity might be more of a factor than it appears in this analysis.

I think like most things that are complex, its likely that there is no one cause, he said.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, January 2007.

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Oct 22nd, 2022 | Filed under Testosterone

We can rehash these often underhanded or overly glib points which follow party lines, or we can have a frank discussion about the biological differences between men and women. These distinctions go way beyond reproductive organs, though most of us are unaware of how much due to the prevailing discourse. Biological differences between women and men dont start and stop at the reproductive system. From our backs to our hair to our stomachs, the physiology of both genders offers up fascinating insights into the variations which make us who we are.

Your colon is an organ that is critical to the function of your digestive system. You might think that the colon for both women and men is pretty standard, given that we both need our digestive systems to process the food we eat, but there is one important distinction. The colon in the average female is 10 centimeters longer than a males, meaning that part of it has to lie in her pelvis, along with her bladder and reproductive organs.

A longer colon in women helps them retain fluid during pregnancy to nourish the amniotic sac. With a growing baby inside her, a woman needs much more fluid both to stay hydrated and to keep the sac filled, thereby creating the need for a longer colon compared to a mans. Gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutnik describes the difference as being between a gentle horseshoe and a tangled up Slinky.

The colon in the average female is 10 centimeters longer than a males.

Because of the longer colon, the digestive process for women is much slower as theres more space to move through (sometimes taking an extra 14 hours), which makes us susceptible to digestive discomfort like bloating and constipation. If youve ever wondered why you seem to get more stomach aches than your husband, its just taking your colon longer to process the fuel.

Its frustrating to say the least, but men always seem to be able to drop those few extra pounds (and keep them off) quicker than we can. In fact, women on average tend to have 6-11% more body fat than men. Men also have more muscle than women due to their higher amount of testosterone.

This biological conditioning goes back to prehistoric times. Men need to be lean and muscular to compete with one another, hunt, work, and provide, while women need more body fat for (you guessed it) pregnancy. The male metabolism works much faster than a females, enabling men to lose weight quicker in order to be lithe and lean hunters. Women are in fact biologically wired to store more fat, both for themselves and their children.

While you may have a 30-step skincare routine, your boyfriend still washes his face with a bar of soap thats three years old (sigh). Thats probably because there are tons of differences between male and female skin.

A mans dermis (the deeper, inner layer of skin) is 20% thicker than a womans. However, a mans skin is also prone to more irritation, especially due to shaving, which can remove the surface of skin cells and expose the sensitive layer underneath to more debris and bacteria.

Men also have more oil-producing glands, or sebum, and make about twice as much as women do. Theyre also more prone to acne and clogged pores, which are much more pronounced. When it comes to collagen, both men and women have it hard but women have it harder. Mens collagen is about 65% stronger than womens, which is one reason why men dont get cellulite. While men experience a steady decline of collagen throughout their lives, women lose theirs at a much faster pace once theyve hit menopause.

The variations dont begin and end with organs. The lumbar curve (which gives our spine its shape and curvature) is one vertebra longer in women than in men. Specifically, women have three wedged-shaped vertebrae in their lumbar region, and men have two.

The extra vertebra accommodates the shifted center of gravity during pregnancy.

This differentiation assisted early civilization when they began to walk on two feet, and womens longer lumbar curve has helped accommodate their changing center of gravity during pregnancy. One scientist for The Harvard Gazette explains, To accommodate this shifted center of gravity, womens spines have evolved to help offset the additional weight in the abdomen during pregnancy, so that the back muscles are not taxed in counter-balancing the destabilizing effects of the babys weight.

Another benefit of a curvier lumbar curve? Men find it very attractive.

Body and facial hair have long been a significant indication of maturity and high testosterone in men. The prevalence (or lack thereof) of hair on the body is due to the presence of androgens, a natural hormone that binds receptors together and aids in the production of sex hormones and developing physical characteristics during puberty.

Women have less androgens and less testosterone than men, limiting their body and facial hair. However, we now know that the presence of more hair on women on specific parts of the body, known as hirsutism, is a key marker of hormonal imbalances such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS is an endocrine and hormone disorder that results in increased acne, cysts on the ovaries, and irregular periods, along with other complications.

More facial and body hair in men is a high testosterone marker, but it has practical purposes as well. Once again, going back to the age of caves and the dawn of civilization, women knew the strength of their potential mate based on the prevalence of his facial hair. While this seems like an outdated concept nowadays, it really isnt, given that we know women on hormonal birth control are predisposed to pick effeminate men with less traditional testosterone markers, due to the influence of artificial estrogen in their system.

It may seem like all of these biological differences benefited humans in a different age or a different time. Now, they simply exist within us without any real purpose. But thats a pessimistic way to go about appreciating our differences. Our biology has worked to our advantage for thousands of years, and its only in a postmodern, egalitarian age that we view these benefits as drawbacks, or ignore them altogether. The biology of man and woman works for their survival and their procreation, which seem primitive and outdated to us now. But humans have always had these natural instincts to create and provide and the contrasting balance of our bodies is ideally designed for those fundamental means.

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Sep 4th, 2022 | Filed under Testosterone

Men undergo hormonal changes during the transition to fatherhood and interactions between these hormones are related to how they interact with their children, according to new research published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Surprisingly, however, oxytocin does not appear to be one of these hormones.

Mothers have biological connections to their infants through pregnancy and breastfeeding, which are accompanied by hormonal fluctuations. But much less is known about the hormonal changes that men experience in the transition to fatherhood. The team of scientists behind the new study sought to start filling in this gap in the research literature.

Around half of the parents are fathers, yet research on parents focuses on mothers most of the time, said study author Marian Bakermans-Kranenburg, a professor at the Institute of Applied Psychology in Lisbon. The transition to parenthood is a life experience that is accompanied by huge hormonal changes in women. What happens to mens hormone system when they become fathers for the first time? And are hormone levels related to how they interact with their babies?

Hormones are critical regulators of many physiological processes. In humans, hormones play a role in everything from metabolism and sexual function to mood and fertility. The researchers were particularly interested in five hormones that might influence parenting behavior: oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, estradiol and cortisol.

Oxytocin is sometimes called the love hormone because it is involved in social bonding and intimate relationships. Vasopressin regulates blood pressure and water retention. Testosterone is a male sex hormone that plays a role in sexual development and muscle growth. Estradiol is a female sex hormone that is involved in the development of secondary sex characteristics and the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Cortisol is a stress hormone involved in the bodys response to emergency situations.

For their study, the researchers recruited a sample of 73 expectant fathers, who were followed from the prenatal phase to the postnatal phase. To assess changes in hormone levels, the expectant fathers provided salvia samples on the mornings and evenings of two consecutive days at 36 weeks of gestation. They again provided salvia samples at around five weeks after the birth of their infant.

Approximately two months after the birth of their infant, the participants were observed during a 10-minute free play session. The fathers were told to play with their child as they would normally do. Their interactions were recorded and the fathers parental sensitivity was scored by a group of five independent raters. The researchers also recruited a separate sample of 79 fathers who had recently had their first baby, who were observed in the postnatal phase only.

In line with previous research, testosterone decreased substantially from the prenatal to the postnatal period but estradiol levels remained unchanged. Testosterone and estradiol were not individually associated with parental sensitivity. But the researchers found evidence that the interplay between the two hormones played an important role. Fathers tended to have lower parental sensitivity when they had both high testosterone and high estradiol.

Not only mothers, but also fathers show changes in their hormonal levels when their first infant is born, Bakermans-Kranenburg told PsyPost. And these hormonal levels in combination do correlate with fathers parenting behavior.

Given oxytocins reputation to promote bonding, the researchers had expected that higher oxytocin levels would be associated with more sensitive parenting. But they found no evidence that the hormone was related to parenting behaviors. In addition, oxytocin levels did not change from the prenatal to the postnatal period.

The study authors wrote that the hormone may be considered an oxymoron as oxytocin is derived from the Greek words for swift childbirth, and giving birth is typically not experienced as swift and certainly does not constitute the fathers role in the couples transition to parenthood.

Prenatal oxytocin did, however, predict postnatal levels of vasopressin.

To conclude, we did not find support for the importance of oxytocin as stand-alone hormone or in interplay with other hormones in the process of men transitioning into fatherhood or in predicting the quality of their interactions with the newborn, the authors wrote. We may have missed changes in oxytocin concentrations during earlier phases of the pregnancy or later than two months after birth, or oxytocin might indeed be an oxymoron.

By contrast, testosterone decreased substantially from the prenatal to the postnatal period and the combination of lower levels of both testosterone and estradiol was associated with higher quality of paternal interactions with the newborn. We propose that the null findings should be considered preliminary and in need of replication.

The next question is how differences in hormonal levels can be explained, and if we can support sensitive parenting in new fathers, e.g. by increasing their prenatal involvement, Bakermans-Kranenburg added.

The study, Is paternal oxytocin an oxymoron? Oxytocin, vasopressin, testosterone, oestradiol and cortisol in emerging fatherhood, was authored by Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Martine W. F. T. Verhees, Anna M. Lotz, Kim Alyousefi-van Dijk, and Marinus H. van IJzendoorn

Excerpt from:
Scientists studying hormonal changes during the transition to fatherhood say oxytocin is an "oxymoron" - PsyPost

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Sep 4th, 2022 | Filed under Testosterone
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