A primer on healthy testosterone production

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve taken a look at some of the most common factors that interfere with a stellar sex life—from circulatory concerns to chronic stress. But there’s one element in this equation that deserves a discussion of its own: testosterone.


No conversation about male vitality is complete without a thorough understanding of the role that testosterone plays in the body. So today, let’s take a closer look at this critical sex hormone—where it comes from, what it does, and why imbalances can wreak havoc both inside and outside the bedroom...  



Keeping the balance is key



The testes produce the majority of your body’s testosterone, using cholesterol as a building block, while a small remainder originates in the adrenal glands. The process begins in your hypothalamus and pituitary gland—a part of the brain known as the HPA axis.


 When testosterone is low, your hypothalamus signals your pituitary gland to release luteinizing hormone.  This hormone tells cells in your testes (called Leydig cells) to start producing more testosterone.


Testosterone is then carried into your bloodstream by a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), where it’s responsible for a whole host of critical functions—supporting muscle mass, bone density, sexual function, and more.


But of course, it can only do this if enough testosterone is unbound to SHBG—what we call “free testosterone”—allowing it to easily interact with your cells and tissues.   


There is a balanced feedback loop in play here: When your body has adequate testosterone levels, your HPA axis slows down the production of testosterone-producing hormones. The same thing happens when you have high levels of other sex hormones, including Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and estrogen.


Yes, men need estrogen, too: It’s critical for libido and sexual desire—but an imbalance, and high levels in particular, will have a negative impact on your sexual performance.


High estrogen is a factor in the onset of erectile dysfunction (ED), and an imbalanced ratio of estrogen to testosterone is linked to greater severity of ED. As mentioned above, elevated estrogen can block the HPA axis from stimulating testosterone release.


But estrogen can also have a negative impact on the veins and muscles of the penis—making it tougher to maintain firm erections.



What about your prostate?



It’s a commonly held belief that testosterone is linked to prostate issues—including prostate cancer. However, the most recent research available has challenged this thinking.


For example, studies on aging men have shown that the rate of prostate growth is significantly higher in men with low testosterone than in men with normal testosterone levels. Other studies have revealed that there is no increased risk of prostate cancer among men receiving testosterone replacement therapy for hypogonadism.


Clearly, balanced levels of testosterone are critical—not only to your virility, but to your total body health. The bad news is that there are a lot of modern challenges that could be interfering with your body’s natural ability to maintain ample stores of this sex hormone.  


Next week, we’ll talk about some of those hidden testosterone robbers—and outline some safe, simple strategies to keep your own hormone levels in check.


Stay tuned,


The XYWellness Team