Testosterone is a steroid hormone from the androgen group and is found in mammals, reptiles, birds, and other vertebrates. In mammals, testosterone is primarily secreted in the testes of males and the ovaries of females, although small amounts are also secreted by the adrenal glands. It is the principal male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid.

In men, testosterone plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testis and prostate as well as promoting secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle, bone mass, and the growth of body hair. In addition, testosterone is essential for health and well-being as well as the prevention of osteoporosis.

On average, an adult human male body produces about 7-8 times more testosterone than an adult human female body , but females are more sensitive to the hormone.

Testosterone is observed in most vertebrates. Fish make a slightly different form called 11-ketotestosterone. Its counterpart in insects is ecdysone. These ubiquitous steroids suggest that sex hormones have an ancient evolutionary history.


Physiological effects

In general, androgens promote protein synthesis and growth of those tissues with androgen receptors. Testosterone effects can be classified as virilizing and anabolic, though the distinction is somewhat artificial, as many of the effects can be considered both. Testosterone is anabolic, meaning it builds up bone and muscle mass.

Anabolic effects include growth of muscle mass and strength, increased bone density and strength, and stimulation of linear growth and bone maturation.
Androgenic effects include maturation of the sex organs, particularly the penis and the formation of the scrotum in the fetus, and after birth (usually at puberty) a deepening of the voice, growth of the beard and axillary hair. Many of these fall into the category of male secondary sex characteristics.

Testosterone effects can also be classified by the age of usual occurrence. For postnatal effects in both males and females, these are mostly dependent on the levels and duration of circulating free testosterone.

Aggresion @ Testosterone

The positive correlation between testosterone levels and aggression in humans has been demonstrated in many studies, but about half of studies fail to find a link. While testosterone itself is not shown to be the direct cause of aggression in males, the testosterone derivative estradiol is known to correlate with aggression in male mice.

Medical use of Testosterone

The original and primary use of testosterone is for the treatment of males who have too little or no natural endogenous testosterone production—males with hypogonadism. Appropriate use for this purpose is legitimate hormone replacement therapy (testosterone replacement therapy [TRT]), which maintains serum testosterone levels in the normal range.

However, over the years, as with every hormone, testosterone or other anabolic steroids has also been given for many other conditions and purposes besides replacement, with varying success but higher rates of side effects or problems. Examples include reducing infertility, correcting lack of libido or erectile dysfunction, correcting osteoporosis, encouraging penile enlargement, encouraging height growth, encouraging bone marrow stimulation and reversing the effects of anemia, and even appetite stimulation. By the late 1940s testosterone was being touted as an anti-aging wonder drug (e.g., see Paul de Kruif's The Male Hormone). Decline of testosterone production with age has led to interest in androgen replacement therapy.

To take advantage of its virilizing effects, testosterone is often administered to transsexual men as part of the hormone replacement therapy, with a "target level" of the normal male testosterone level. Like-wise, transsexual women are sometimes prescribed anti-androgens to decrease the level of testosterone in the body and allow for the effects of estrogen to develop.

Testosterone patches are effective at treating low libido in post-menopausal women.Low libido may also occur as a symptom or outcome of hormonal contraceptive use. Women may also use testosterone therapies to treat or prevent loss of bone density, muscle mass and to treat certain kinds of depression and low energy state. Women on testosterone therapies may experience an increase in weight without an increase in body fat due to changes in bone and muscle density. Most undesired effects of testosterone therapy in women may be controlled by hair-reduction strategies, acne prevention, etc. There is a theoretical risk that testosterone therapy may increase the risk of breast or gynaecological cancers, and further research is needed to define any such risks more clearly.

Athletic use

Testosterone can be used by an athlete in order to improve performance, but it is considered to be a form of doping in most sports. There are several application methods for testosterone, including intramuscular injections, transdermal gels and patches, and implantable pellets.

Anabolic steroids (including testosterone) have also been taken to enhance muscle development, strength, or endurance. They do so directly by increasing the muscles' protein synthesis. As a result, muscle fibers become larger and repair faster than the average person's. After a series of scandals and publicity in the 1980s (such as Ben Johnson's improved performance at the 1988 Summer Olympics), prohibitions of anabolic steroid use were renewed or strengthened by many sports organizations. Testosterone and other anabolic steroids were designated a "controlled substance" by the United States Congress in 1990, with the Anabolic Steroid Control Act. The use is seen as being a seriously problematic issue in modern sport, particularly given the lengths to which athletes and professional laboratories go to in trying to conceal such abuse from sports regulators. Steroid abuse once again came into the spotlight recently as a result of the Chris Benoit double murder-suicide in 2007, and the media frenzy surrounding it – however, there has been no evidence indicating steroid use as a contributing factor.

Detection of abuse

A number of methods for detecting testosterone use by athletes have been employed, most based on a urine test. These include the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio (normally less than 6), the testosterone/luteinizing hormone ratio and the carbon-13 / carbon-12 ratio (pharmaceutical testosterone contains less carbon-13 than endogenous testosterone). In some testing programs, an individual's own historical results may serve as a reference interval for interpretation of a suspicious finding. Another approach being investigated is the detection of the administered form of testosterone, usually an ester, in hair.


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