Testosterone is the sex hormone produced by the testicles and, in smaller amounts, by the ovaries. People with testicles tend to have higher levels of testosterone because it plays a large role in male sexual development. Testosterone is referred to as the muscle-building hormone because it increases muscle mass and bone in both sexes. Healthcare professionals can use this information to help identify a range of conditions, such as erectile dysfunction and pituitary disorders in those with testicles, and infertility and low sex drive. This test can also be used to monitor testosterone levels of those undergoing hormone replacement therapy.
Testosterone levels in people with testicles naturally decrease with age, a process distinct from male hypogonadism, which occurs when the testicles fail to produce testosterone. The risk of male hypogonadism is increased by many conditions, including type 2 diabetes, HIV infection, or if the testicles are removed to treat cancer. Testosterone-replacement therapy may be a viable option for those with low testosterone.
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