Have you had your testosterone levels check lately? If you’re over 50 male or female you should talk to your doctor about your levels. Low or high testosterone can cause major health problems. Have you been a little moody? Do you feel more fatigued lately? Have you been told you’re anemic? It could be your testosterone levels.

More than 200 hormones or hormone-like substances have been discovered in our body. If we divide them through structure, there are three major types of hormones.

1. Protein hormones (or polypeptide hormones) are made of chains of amino acids. An example is ADH (antidiuretic hormone), which decreases blood pressure.

2. Steroid hormones are derived from lipids. Reproductive hormones like testosterone and estrogen are steroid hormones.

3. Amine hormones are derived from amino acids. Epinephrine, which helps regulate the fight-or-flight response, is an amine hormone.

Testosterone falls into the “Steroid” group of hormones. This hormone is produced in a man’s testes and adrenal glands. In women it’s produced in the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Testosterone affects the sex drive in both men and women. It also plays a role in strength, mood, the development of sex organs and hair growth. The body balances the amounts of testosterone in your system.

The most common “out of balance” testosterone levels are found to be on the low side. The highest testosterone level usually peaks at about age 20 for both men and women. It than slowly decreases with age at about 1% per year. This decrease may not be noticeable in some. Many people may experience significant changes starting in their middle-aged years or more commonly at age 60 and above. In men this drop in testosterone levels is sometimes termed hypogonadism, “male menopause” or andropause.

A drop in testosterone levels can cause:

1. a drop in physical energy

2. a drop in strength

3. a drop in stamina

4. diminished mental aggressiveness

5. more aches and pains in the bones and joints than normal

6. weight gain

7. osteoporosis

8. loss in muscle density

The normal range of testosterone in males is about 270 — 1070 ng/dL with an average level of 679 ng/dL. The healthiest men have testosterone levels between 400 — 600 ng/dL. Normal levels for women are considered to be between 15 and 70 ng/dL. Testosterone levels above or below the normal range are considered by many to be out of balance. The level of hormones produced in the body varies each day and throughout the day. There is still no unanimous standard for testosterone levels in men and women. They’re a few tests that can give you your numbers. You will have to talk to your doctor to get the test. This is not a routine test for women or men.

Testosterone levels can be too high. This causes it’s own set of health issues. Women with high testosterone levels develop frontal balding, acne, an enlarged clitoris, increased muscle mass, and deepening of voice. High levels of testosterone can also lead to infertility. Men with high testosterone levels may experience more aggressive and irritable behavior, more acne and oily skin, even worse sleep apnea and an increase in muscle mass. High levels of testosterone pumping through a man’s system will lower sperm count and shrink testicles. High levels can cause testicular or adrenal tumors. These tumors are benign but they can still boost testosterone levels to unhealthy levels. High testosterone in both women and men will raise “bad cholesterol” levels and can harm your heart. It can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Treatment for high testosterone depends on the cause, but generally includes medication and lifestyle changes.

Medications used to treat high testosterone include:

1. glucocorticosteroids

2. metformin

3. oral contraceptives

4. spironolactone

All of these medications are only available by prescription.

Making certain lifestyle changes can also affect testosterone levels. Starting an exercise program for body fat loss can help because losing fat can help lower hormones to normal levels. A complete workout should include exercises for each body part. This will include the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, biceps, forearm, thighs, calves and your abdominals (midsection). Start with 2 or 3 different exercises for each body part. Gradually work up to 8 — 12 repetitions for each exercise. Do each exercise 1 — 3 times to start. If you can do more than 12 repetitions for a set the weight is too light. If you can’t do at least 8 repetitions for a set the weight is too heavy. Aerobic exercises (walking, jogging, biking or swimming continuously for 15 minutes or more) are important to have a fit body.

Diet is another area that improvement helps to lower your levels. Eating stimulates your body to burn calories because the digestion process uses a lot of energy. The body needs carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and water to be healthy. Without proper nutrition and exercise, optimal health cannot be attained. Carbohydrates, fats, and protein supply energy (calories) necessary for work and normal body functions. Vitamins, minerals, fiber and water do not have caloric value but are still necessary for normal body functions.

Sleep is another major lifestyle change you can make that will help to lower your levels. The amount of sleep needed each night varies among people. Each person needs a particular amount of sleep in order to be fully alert throughout the day. Research has shown that when healthy adults are allowed to sleep unrestricted, the average time slept is 8 to 8.5 hours. Some people need more than that to avoid problem sleepiness; others need less. If a person does not get enough sleep, even on one night, a “sleep debt” begins to build and increases until enough sleep is obtained. Problem sleepiness occurs as the debt accumulates. Many people do not get enough sleep during the workweek and then sleep longer on the weekends or days off to reduce their sleep debt. If too much sleep has been lost, sleeping in on the weekend may not completely reverse the effects of not getting enough sleep during the week. Sleep helps to regulate hormone levels. It gives the body a chance to remove excess hormones.

A gradual decline in testosterone level as you age is normal for both women and men. Treatment is sometimes considered if you’re experiencing symptoms related to low testosterone. Testosterone therapy usually is recommended for both women and men. There are also risks. Testosterone treatment can raise a man’s red blood cell count as well as enlarge his breasts. It can also accelerate prostate growth. Men with breast cancer should not receive testosterone treatment. Testosterone treatment usually is not advised for men with prostate cancer. Many doctors also advise women not to take testosterone. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved only a few testosterone-based treatments for women. This is because the side effects. Women using testosterone therapy could experience hair loss, acne, excess facial hair, a deepening voice and an enlarge clitoris. These side affects can be permanent. A doctor can give testosterone as an injections or pellets. This treatment has the same effect on women as on men. The therapy raises energy levels, decreases fatigue and increases the sex drive.

Never take testosterone therapy without a doctor’s recommendation. Testosterone therapies may cause more unpleasant side effects than they relieve.

Some may choose only to treat their symptoms. This does not control your levels.

Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician. If you have a fitness question or concern you would like addressed. write to: “Tips to be Fit.” P.O. Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105, or tipstobefit@gmail.com. If you’ve missed an article of “Tips to be Fit” just search “Tips to be Fit.”

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