Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone in humans, although males tend to produce considerably more of it. The hormone affects various bodily processes, and is mostly connected to growth rates and protein processing. Testosterone is sometimes given as a growth stimulant or treatment for some illnesses, and is often banned by sports organizations due to health concerns and complaints of unfair practices. Testosterone effects can vary due to the amount and source of the hormone, and detrimental health problems can occur from receiving too much or too little testosterone.
In men, testosterone effects can impact bodily growth and function in many ways. Naturally producing lots of testosterone or taking supplementary doses can lead to increases in muscle mass, weight, body hair, and changes in sex drive. In excess, some evidence suggests that the hormone can cause severe headaches, heart problems, psychological issues such as bouts of rage or depression, and lowered sperm count.
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In men, testosterone effects can also occur if the body is not producing an adequate level of the hormone. This can result due to aging, health issues leading to the removal of one or both testicles, or a malfunction in the production glands that simply prevents the body from creating an adequate supply. Low testosterone can delay the onset of puberty, slow rates of growth and muscle gain, and effect sexual desire and performance.
Although primarily considered a male hormone, females also produce testosterone and can be subject to testosterone effects if they have too much or too little. As with men, high testosterone levels greatly increase protein absorption and muscle-building capability, but may also lead to facial hair, a deepened voice, and acne. Menopausal women are occasionally prescribed low doses of testosterone to increase libido and prevent bone density loss due to osteoporosis.
Studies on the benefits and risks of testosterone are ongoing, but seem to consistently produce mixed results. As hormone therapy becomes more common, it is ever more important to gain a proper and accurate understanding of testosterone effects on the body. Its controversy in the sports world has lead to considerable public outcry against its use, while it remains beneficial to many medical conditions under carefully monitored circumstances. The study of testosterone effects is clearly an area worthy of considerably more scientific research in order to better implement guidelines regarding use.