Testosterone 101

What is testosterone? The word “testosterone” has become more and more confusing recently as thousands of “Low T” centers have been opening their doors to millions of people seeking to regain their vigor and zest for life!

Testosterone is a steroid hormone. It is produced and secreted by the male testicles and in small amounts by the female ovaries. Both men and women also produce a small amount of testosterone in the adrenal glands.  Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone. It belongs to the androgen group of hormones, which are the male-type sex hormones. Androgens aid in the development of the male reproductive system, testosterone being the most active androgen, and is secreted from the testes.

Testosterone is also an anabolic steroid. Anabolic processes help build up organs and tissue, which stimulate a part of the metabolism that produces growth and increases body size, bone and muscle mass. This process occurs naturally in the body.

However; anabolic steroids are also artificially produced hormones that are the same as, or similar to, androgens. There are more than 100 variations of anabolic steroids. The most common today are gels, creams, pellets, and injections.

Testosterone is a drug and has been declared addictive by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and warns of withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, fatigue and suicidal thoughts.

Anabolic steroids are any of a group of usually synthetic hormones that are derivatives of testosterone. They are used medically especially to promote tissue growth. They are sometimes abused by athletes who want to increase the size and strength of their muscles and improve endurance.

Anabolic steroids are used to promote muscle growth and tissue regeneration. Unsupervised use by athletes to build muscle and improve strength can have serious harmful effects, including coronary heart disease, sexual and reproductive disorders, immunodeficiencies, liver damage, stunted growth, aggressive behavior, susceptibility to connective-tissue injury, and (in females) irreversible masculinization.

Androgenic effects include maturation of the sex organs, deepening of the voice, and growth of facial hair.

Exogenous refers to an action coming from outside the body. Exogenous testosterone can be injected, taken orally, implanted as pellets, skin patches, or topical creams, gels and sprays.

Synthetic anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) are administered exogenously.

The human body makes its own testosterone from cholesterol, and that form of the hormone is referred to as endogenous, meaning that it is produced naturally by the human body.

The so-called bio-identical hormones are not only exogenous but also synthetic, and they have no specific or precise medical definition. It is referred to as bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and the prescription is mixed in a compound pharmacy. The natural sources in the mixture are usually yams and soybeans.  It may also include hormones such as testosterone, dehydroeplandrosterone (DHEA) and extracts from animal glands.

Harvard University Women’s Health Watch warns that any prescription that adds testosterone or DHEA to a hormone compound is a risky. Dr. Lauren Streicher warns that using non-FDA approved bio-identicals is potentially dangerous and that you open not only your trust, but also your checkbook. Others warn that “natural” doesn’t mean it is natural within the human body.

Low T clinics are “sex hormone factories” warns Dr. Bradley Anawalt, head of the Hormone Health Network. http://www.hormone.org

It is vital for anyone considering hormone replacement therapy to know what they are putting into their body and to know the consequences of “accidental addiction,” otherwise known as iatrogenic addiction, that is, addiction to physician-prescribed substances.