Testosterone is an essential hormone in men. Naturally produced in the body from as early as a few weeks after conception and throughout the rest of a man’s life, it is involved in several important bodily functions and processes, making it the primary male sex hormone.
Normal testosterone values
In general, testosterone levels in men significantly increase once the puberty stage begins, reach their peak levels during the late teenage years, and gradually decline after age 30 years. Below are the normal testosterone levels in men by age:
- ♦ Before birth to 5 months – 75 nanograms per deciliter to 400 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 6 months to 9 years of age – 7 nanograms per deciliter to 20 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 10 to 11 years of age – 7 nanograms per deciliter to 130 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 12 to 13 years of age – 7 nanograms per deciliter to 800 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ 14 years of age – 7 nanograms per deciliter to 1,200 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 15 to 16 years of age – 100 nanograms per deciliter to 1,200 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 17 to 18 years of age – 300 nanograms per deciliter to 1,200 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 19 to 20 years of age – 240 nanograms per deciliter to 950 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 21 to 30 years of age – 270 nanograms per deciliter to 1,070 nanograms per deciliter
Start of testosterone decline
- ♦ From 31 to 39 years of age – 219 nanograms per deciliter to 1,009 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 40 to 49 years of age – 201 nanograms per deciliter to 993 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ From 50 to 59 years of age – 170 nanograms per deciliter to 918 nanograms per deciliter
- ♦ 60 years+ – 100 nanograms per deciliter to 400 nanograms per deciliter
Testosterone’s role in male sexual development
Even before a man is born, his body already produces testosterone. According to studies, testosterone production can begin as early as 7 weeks after he is conceived. At this point, testosterone facilitates the formation of the male genitalia.
Once he hits puberty, testosterone helps make the different physical changes and sexual developments occur, including:
Growth of penis and testicles
At around age 10 or 11, the usual age of puberty in boys, the penis and testicles grow and increase in size.
Increase in sperm production
Sperm are produced in the testicles or testes, which are two organs that are oval-shaped and measure around 2 inches or 5 centimeters in length (which is about the size of a large olive). The growth and development of testicles allow more sperm to be produced. A normal sperm count is somewhere around 15 million sperm to over 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
Growth of body hair
Testosterone facilitates the growth of pubic hair, facial hair, arm hair, leg hair, and other body hair. Boys who are not producing enough testosterone may not be able to grow as much body hair or experience slower body hair growth in comparison to other boys their age.
Deepening of the voice
Boys who are in the puberty stage go through a change in their voice. Their voice will start to break and get deeper as their penis and testicles grow.
Bone and muscle development
The puberty years are when a boy experiences a growth spurt, as his bones and muscles go through significant growth and development. With the help of testosterone, they should be able to gain bone density and muscle mass, increasing their height, strength, and physical abilities.
Sex drive or libido
Testosterone regulates a man’s sex drive or libido as soon as he hits puberty age. His sexual desire experiences a sudden spike, usually peaking at age 15 or 16 years.
It is normal for puberty-age boys to develop competitiveness, dominance, aggression, and other similar traits at this time in their lives, as testosterone can influence certain behaviors.
After puberty, testosterone continues to hold crucial roles in other bodily functions, such as fat metabolism, which helps in the proper distribution of fat and the efficient burning of fat in the body, preventing the increase in one’s body fat; production of red blood cells, which promotes heart health, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and other heart-related diseases; and blood circulation and flow, which ensures that sufficient amounts of blood and oxygen reach your penis and other reproductive organs, protecting against erectile dysfunction, infertility, and other sexual and reproductive disorders.
Dangers of low testosterone
There are many problems that can arise if your testosterone levels drop. Some common side effects of low testosterone are:
- ♦ Decreased sex drive or libido, which can lead to an inactive sex life, disappointed sex partners, and even erectile dysfunction
- ♦ Decrease in testicle size, which can negatively impact your sperm production
- ♦ Reduced sperm count, which can increase your risk of infertility
- ♦ Decrease in amount of semen, which can make it difficult for your sperm to travel and fertilize an egg and impregnate your partner
- ♦ Bone and muscle loss, which can make you more susceptible to sprains, fractures, and other bone and muscle complications
- ♦ Sleeping problems, which can contribute to sleep apnea
- ♦ High body fat, which increases your likelihood of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other health problems
- ♦ Reduced energy levels, which can make you feel fatigued even without doing anything strenuous
Tips to boost testosterone levels
If you have low testosterone, you can try the following ways to increase your testosterone:
- ♦ Eat more testosterone-boosting foods, such as oysters, eggs, beans, tuna, shellfish, and beans.
- ♦ Visit your doctor and get a prescription for testosterone replacement therapy, which comes in different forms, such as injections, gels, tablets, and skin patches.
- ♦ Exercising on a regular basis.