How Is Testosterone Made

How Testosterone Is Made
How Testosterone Is Made

The male body on average, produces 7mg of testosterone each day. However, this 19-carbon steroid hormone is not all floating around in the bloodstream for use. There are three sub-types of testosterone to help understand what can be easily accessed and what cannot; free testosterone, SHBG-bound and albumin-bound testosterone.

1. Free Testosterone: This is the purest form of the hormone, and it is 'free' because there are no proteins attached to it. Because it is not bound to anything, it is free to enter cells and activate receptors as it likes. Even though this is a highly beneficial form of testosterone it only makes up about 2 or 3 percent of the body's overall count. To get the maximum benefits of testosterone, this free version is the one to increase in the bloodstream. It is even possible to free up some of the bound-testosterone if needed.

2. SHBG-Bound Testosterone: Close to 40 or 50% of the total testosterone in the body is bound to the protein known as SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). This protein is produced in the liver and plays a vital role in regulating the free testosterone levels. This SHBG-bound version is inactive so your body cannot use it for muscle gain or mood boosts. Too much SHG is a bad thing because it can increase testosterone levels but still cause the person to feel testosterone deficient. What happens is that too much gets bound up and not enough is left for free use. There are dietary and lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the amount of SHBG in your system and this can help to increase the amount of free testosterone floating around.

3. Albumin-bound Testosterone: Albumin is a liver-produced protein that binds up the remainder of the testosterone and is responsible for stabilizing extra-cellular fluids. While this version is also inactive, the bind with albumin is not as strong as the one with SHBG, so it can be easily broken to create free testosterone. Since this type is easy to break apart, doctors typically count this along with the free testosterone when checking your levels.

The Making of Testosterone

Making Testosterone Naturally
Making Testosterone Naturally

The majority of testosterone (95%) in the body is made in the testicles, with a small percentage coming from the adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys.

  • The process starts in the brain. The hypothalamus detects that more testosterone is needed and releases the gonadotropin-releasing hormone. This hormone then travels to the pituitary gland located at the back of the brain.
  • When it reaches the pituitary gland, the hormone triggers the release of two other hormones; FSH or follicle stimulating hormone and LH or luteinizing hormone. Both of these make their way to the testicles via the bloodstream.
  • In the testicles, the FSH promotes sperm production and LH stimulates the Leydig cells which create more testosterone.
  • These Leydig cells are able to convert cholesterol into testosterone, so the bacon and eggs you had for breakfast is a good thing. In the event there is not enough cholesterol in the blood stream, your testicles are able to produce enough to convert. It is worth noting that while this can be done if necessary, it is not ideal to rely on this form of cholesterol, so be sure you get enough on your diet. When the Leydig cells have to create the cholesterol, it can eventually inhibit their ability to produce testosterone at all.
  • Testosterone then returns to the bloodstream and most of it will attach to either SHBG or albumin and become biologically inactive. What little percentage remains free, starts traveling through the body and when the hypothalamus detects that there is enough in our system, it signals the pituitary glans to stop releasing FSH and LH. Without LH, the testicles slow down the testosterone production.

There are a number of steps involved in the complicated process of testosterone production, which means there are a number of ways it can be impacted. Understanding how testosterone is made and stored in the body can help you to ensure that nothing interferes with production. There are any number of reasons that this cycle can be thrown off course and the result will be lower testosterone levels. It is important to know how diet and lifestyle can help support this entire system and all the parts needed for healthy testosterone production. 

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