Taking a step back on how the human body is regulated:
The human body is regulated by complex processes to ensure normal physiologic functioning. These physiologic activities are regulated by the nervous system and the endocrine system. Crucial to this article, is the endocrine system because it secretes hormones to mediate these processes.
What is testosterone, what does it mean for men?
Testosterone is one of the numerous hormones produced by the endocrine system. It is the main sex hormone in males. It is anabolic in nature, which means that it favors many growth processes.
This hormone has a key role to play in the development of reproductive tissues, particularly the testes and prostate. It also promotes the development of male secondary sexual characteristics and improves the overall health and wellbeing of the individual. Testosterone is produced by the adrenal cortex (mainly the zona reticularis), testes, and placenta. The testes is the most important for optimum testosterone levels.
The testis produces androgens, which include: Testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, androstenedione. From the name, it can be seen that these compounds are steroids. They are derived from cholesterol and its derivatives.
Adult males have testosterone levels about 7 or 8 times that of adult females, and a metabolism over 20 times that of females. This means the hormone is far more crucial to a man’s health.
Functions of Testosterone
Appreciating the functions of testosterone, will help us to understand the implications of its altered levels caused by high stress jobs.
The functions are broadly classified into:
- Anabolic (effects on the secondary sexual characteristics)
- Androgenic (effects on the sex organs)
The features here, differentiate the adult male from the adult female physically and behaviourally. They occur as from puberty.
- Increase in muscle mass and strength by as much as 50% as a result of its anabolic effect on proteins. High testosterone levels accelerate the transport of amino acids into the muscle cells, synthesis of proteins and storage of proteins. Testosterone also decreases the breakdown of proteins.
- Increased bone density and strength by increasing its matrix, as well as the deposition of calcium.
- Increased physical height.
- Broad shoulders and rib cage
- Testosterone increases the size of the penis, scrotum and testes after puberty. These organs are enlarged at least 8 times between the onset of puberty and the age of 20 years, due to the testosterone levels.
- Cracking or deepening of the voice.
- Growth of facial hair (beards) and axillary hair.
- It activates genes that are contained in sertoli cells, which help in their differentiation. It also helps in growth, maturation, and transformation of sperm cells. Along with other hormones such as: FSH, estrogen, LH, and Growth hormone, testosterone facilitates sperm production.
Other functions include:
- Regulation of platelet function.
- Increased testosterone levels increases the quality of a sexual experience.
- Increased motivation.
- Effect on basal metabolic rate. At the early part of adult life, testosterone increases the basal metabolic rate to about 5% to 10% by its anabolic effects on protein metabolism.
- Effect on blood. Testosterone has an erythropoietic action. It causes a mild increase in red cell It also increases the blood volume by increasing sodium and water reabsorption and consequently, the ECF volume of the blood.
- Testosterone increases skin thickness and ruggedness of the subcutaneous tissue. These changes in the skin, are due to the deposition of proteins in skin.
What would we consider high impact or stressful jobs?
In very simple terms, high impact are jobs that take the most of you, in terms of time, energy, working conditions, consequences of making a mistake, and cognitive mental activity. Testosterone levels decrease at the rate of 1% per year, after the age of 30. This can be accelerated by these stressful jobs because they cause affect the functions of testosterone listed above.
In high impact jobs, there is the constant drill to meet a deadline, interact with different individuals. There is also significantly a higher hazard risk in this group. The most stressful of these jobs includes: Military personnel, firefighters, pilots, police officers, event planners, reporters and broadcasters, taxi drivers, public relations executive, emergency dispatcher, surgeons, registered nurses, etc. The list goes on, but is not restricted to these occupations.
These days, most jobs are considered stressful by the workers. Not everybody has the same tolerance to stress.
How does it do to testosterone levels?
It lowers testosterone levels. Exposure to any type of stress, either physical or mental, increases the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which consequently, increases glucocorticoid secretion. Glucocorticoids act mainly on carbohydrate metabolism. They also have significant effects on protein and fat metabolism. Cortisol is the main glucocorticoid hormone. Others glucocorticoids are cortisone and corticosterone. When high levels of stress are experienced, the stress hormone called cortisol is released.
Increase in level of cortisol is very essential for survival during stress conditions, as it gives the body high resistance to stress. Glucocorticoids enhance the resistance by the following ways:
- Immediate release and transport of amino acids from tissue stores to liver cells for the synthesis of new proteins and other substances, essential in withstanding the present stress. Cortisol promotes the catabolism of proteins, leading to:
- Decrease in cellular proteins which affects the androgen binding protein, which testosterone binds to.
- Increase in plasma level of amino acids
- Increase in protein content in liver. This can lead to muscle wasting.
- Fatty acid release from cells for the production of more energy during stress. It is diabetogenic because it increases insulin levels indirectly.
- Enhancement of vascular response of the body to catecholamine and fatty acid-mobilizing action of catecholamine, which are necessary.
- Glucocorticoids enhance the retention of sodium and to lesser extent, increase the excretion of potassium. Thus, hyper-secretion of glucocorticoids causes edema, hypertension, hypokalemia and muscular weakness. Glucocorticoids decrease the blood calcium by inhibiting its absorption from intestine and increasing the excretion
- Reduction of severity of other changes in the body caused by stress. Glucocorticoids decrease the number of circulating eosinophils by increasing their destruction in reticuloendothelial cells. These hormones also decrease the number of basophils and lymphocytes and increase the number of circulating neutrophils, RBCs, and platelets. This leads to a weakened immune system
- Cortisol inhibits bone formation and mineralization
In essence, cortisol or stress seems to do the opposite of what testosterone does to the body. When a blood test that shows testosterone levels way below normal for your age in the presence of:
- Low sex drive (loss of libido)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Easy fatiguability and reduced energy levels
- Loss of body and facial hair
- Loss of bone density
- Uneven fat distribution and weight gain
- Difficulty in sustaining attention or concentration
- Poor sleep quality
- Persistent feeling of sadness
- Low self esteem
You may need some testosterone shots to return you to your normal baseline testosterone level.
How can we combat those issues?
Testosterone hormone therapy or shots
By now, it has become clear that we need to solve the problems associated with low testosterone levels, to improve the quality of life of most men out there. Being included in the list of W.H.O’s essential medicines, there is no doubt about its usefulness.
Testosterone can be given as hormone replacement therapy by intramuscular shots for the most effective treatment. Testosterone shots are ideal because they are inexpensive, relative to the other forms of treatment. These shots are given anywhere between 2 to 10 weeks separately. The dose of the testosterone shot is adjusted based on the individual’s need. Assessment and check-ups can then be done at 3 months, 6 months, and a year interval, to measure the improvements.
Be aware of some minor side effects such as rash, itching, that may occur after administration of the therapy. They often resolve soon after. Administration should be done by trained personnel, usually your doctor. The testosterone shots are most commonly given on the gluteal region. You may inject your thigh, if you are trained to self-inject. Though, one may need to take these shots for a while, the benefits far outweigh the inconveniences, and testosterone shots may just be the way to go, in the management of conditions resulting from low testosterone levels.
Note that this testosterone therapy should not be done in cases of benign prostate hypertrophy, cancer of the prostate, clotting disorders, sleep apnea, and congestive heart failure.
Working on your optimal health
Investments made to ensure optimal health are the very best decisions out there. As much as testosterone shots are effective in treatment of the aforementioned conditions, it is necessary to reduce the stress levels in your life. Weight loss, proper nutrition, exercises, and good sleep are also encouraged to further potentiate the action of these shots.
You will find Inspire Med Spa very helpful in achieving your treatment goals. Being founded by an anti-aging specialist doctor; Dr. Gisele Castelluber, a pain free and pleasant experience is priority. Also, procedures are custom-made to suit your specific needs, while guaranteeing privacy and utmost respect. Let the results speak for themselves.