Testosterone And Cholesterol: Is There A Connection?
Testosterone therapy can be used for a variety of medical conditions. It can have side effects such as acne and other skin problems, prostate growth, and decreased sperm production.
Testosterone therapy can also affect cholesterol levels. However, studies of testosterone and cholesterol have shown mixed results.
Some researchers have found that testosterone can lower both high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. Others have found that testosterone has no effect on either.
Studies on the effects of testosterone on total cholesterol are also conflicting. On the other hand, some studies have shown that testosterone has no effect on triglyceride levels. So while testosterone may not lower triglyceride levels, researchers don’t know how it affects total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol or LDL cholesterol.
So, what’s the connection? Read on to learn more about testosterone and cholesterol.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone found in humans and other animals. In humans, the testes are the main source of testosterone. In women, the ovaries also produce testosterone, but in much smaller amounts.
Testosterone production begins to increase significantly during puberty and begins to decline after about age 30.
Testosterone is most often associated with sexual desire and plays a crucial role in sperm production. It also affects bone and muscle mass, the way men store fat in the body, and the production of red blood cells.
A man’s testosterone levels can also affect his mood.
Low Testosterone Levels
Low testosterone levels, also known as low T levels, can cause a variety of symptoms in men, including
- Reduced sex drive
- Decreased energy
- Increased body weight
- Feeling depressed
- A dark mood
- Low self-esteem
- feeling thin and confused
Testosterone production naturally decreases as we age, but other factors can also contribute to lower hormone levels.
Testicular lesions and cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can negatively affect testosterone production.
Testosterone levels have been steadily declining in adult women, but low T levels can also cause a variety of symptoms, including
- Low sex drive
- Decreased bone strength
- Low testosterone levels
In women, low testosterone levels may be caused by ovariectomy or disease of the pituitary, hypothalamus or adrenal glands.
Women with low T levels may be treated with testosterone, but the effectiveness of this treatment in improving sexual or cognitive function in postmenopausal women is unclear.
Why do we use testosterone therapy?
Testosterone therapy is usually used for one of two reasons: First, some men suffer from a condition called hypogonadism. If you suffer from hypogonadism, then your body is not producing enough testosterone. Testosterone is an important hormone. It plays an important role in the development and maintenance of a person’s physical characteristics.
The second reason is to treat the natural decline of testosterone. After the age of 30, men’s testosterone levels begin to decline, but this decline is gradual. Some people want to compensate for the loss of muscle mass and libido caused by this decline in testosterone.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the blood. We need small amounts of cholesterol to build healthy cells. However, when there is too much LDL cholesterol, plaque forms on the walls of the arteries. This is called atherosclerosis.
When atherosclerosis occurs, plaque slowly builds up inside the artery walls and expands within the arteries. This causes the arteries to narrow and blood flow to decrease significantly.
When this happens in the arteries of the heart, called coronary arteries, it can lead to chest pain called angina. If the bulge in the plaque suddenly collapses, a blood clot can form around the plaque.
This can completely block the arteries and cause a heart attack.
Testosterone and HDL
HDL cholesterol is often referred to as the “good” cholesterol; it transports LDL cholesterol, “bad” cholesterol and other fats (such as triglycerides) from the blood to the liver.
Once in the liver, LDL cholesterol is excreted from the body. Low levels of HDL are considered a risk factor for heart disease, and high levels of HDL are protective.
A 2013 study noted that some scientists observed that men taking testosterone medication may have lower HDL levels. However, the results of the study were inconsistent. Other scientists found that testosterone had no effect on HDL levels.
The effect of testosterone on HDL cholesterol may vary from person to person. Age may be a factor. The type and dose of your testosterone medication may also affect its effect on cholesterol.
The study also noted that other researchers found that men with normal HDL and LDL cholesterol levels had no significant change in cholesterol levels after taking testosterone. However, these researchers did find that men with chronic diseases had slightly lower HDL levels.
The effect of testosterone on cholesterol is currently unknown. As more people consider taking testosterone supplements, it is reassuring to know that many researchers are studying the safety and value of this type of hormone replacement therapy.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Low testosterone production is a condition known as hypogonadism and does not necessarily require treatment.
If low T levels are interfering with your health and quality of life, you may be a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy. Artificial testosterone can be taken orally, injected, or used in a skin gel or patch.
Replacement therapy can produce desired results, such as increased muscle mass and increased libido. However, the therapy also has certain side effects. These include
- Oily skin
- water retention
- shrinking of the testicles
- reduced sperm count
So, what can we do about them?
Unfortunately, researchers have not yet come up with a definitive answer to testosterone and cholesterol. It is important to understand that this may be a link. If you decide to receive testosterone therapy, be sure to consider all the risks and benefits.
Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding a heart-healthy lifestyle and take all prescribed medications. This will help you control your cholesterol, blood pressure, and other controllable risk factors.
Assume that there may be a link between testosterone and cholesterol. Take proactive steps to keep your cholesterol within safe limits.
High testosterone levels can occur even in less severe cases. For example, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which affects both men and women, is a rare but natural cause of high testosterone production.
If your testosterone levels are very high, your doctor may order further tests to determine the cause.