Testosterone is an important hormone that is produced by the body's adrenal glands. While testosterone is often associated with males, females also have levels of testosterone in their bodies. This hormone is associated with characteristics such as depth of voice, facial hair, hair loss, and other related body characteristics. While testosterone is a needed hormone, too much or too little of this hormone can have a detrimental effect on both men and women. The recommended levels differ with gender and age and vary throughout a person's lifetime.
The expected testosterone levels for women are lower than the normal levels for men since testosterone is associated with male characteristics. The levels of testosterone for women are set according to the stages of life. Prepubescent girls have the lowest levels of testosterone due to their body's stage of development. The adrenal glands begin producing more of the sex hormones during puberty, increasing testosterone levels and making pre-menopausal women have the second-highest levels of testosterone. As a woman begins to age, she begins producing less estrogen and other female sex hormones. The production of testosterone increases as age increases. Therefore, menopausal and post-menopausal women have the highest levels of testosterone. High testosterone levels in women can cause many problems including hair loss, growth of facial and body hair, a deepening of the voice, and increased aggression.
The testosterone levels for men are expected to be higher since testosterone is considered a male sex hormone. The levels in men start to increase during puberty and are responsible for the deepening of a young man's voice. Levels stay at a steady level following puberty and help men to have a normal sex drive and maintain many of their male characteristics. When men move into middle and older age, testosterone levels start to decline. The decline of testosterone in men can result in a reduced sex drive and hair loss. High testosterone levels can also lead to unusual aggression and mood swings.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that can be associated with high or low testosterone levels, it is important that you discuss your concerns with your physician. Because laboratories have different reference ranges for what is normal, there is no industry-wide standard for what levels are normal. Some labs consider up to 200 a normal level for men and 70 a normal level for women, while some labs consider up to 1200 nanograms per deciliters (ng/dl) normal for men. Needless to say from a bodybuilding or athletic standpoint the closer to the upper level you are the better. This means that your doctor will need to order one or several tests. He or she may order a free testosterone or a total testosterone level and determine your levels based on the range provided by the lab where your blood sample is processed. Once your doctor finds out the results of your tests, he or she may run additional tests to see if related adrenal hormones are at normal levels. Your doctor may suggest hormone replacement therapy or some other remedies. If your hormone levels are extremely abnormal, your family physician may refer you to an endocrinologist, who specializes in glandular function and hormone levels.
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