Can Testosterone Increase Our Brain Activity?
Testosterone is an endogenously secreted hormone that plays a crucial role in the physiological development of the human body. Testosterone, like other growth hormones, stimulates cell reproduction and muscle build-up, and increases bone densities among several other effects. The levels of testosterone present in the human body tend to decline as a person ages.
Andropause is a condition experienced by aging men. It is characterized by abnormally low testosterone levels and leads to a reduction of a patient’s quality of life. Patients suffering from low testosterone levels often complain of tiredness, low sex drive, psychological symptoms of depression, and erectile dysfunction.
Low testosterone levels can also have severe physiological implications. It can also lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, fatty tissue build-up, and muscle wasting. This combination of factors makes up what is known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome leads to an increased risk of diabetes, and cardiovascular complications.
Patients suffering from metabolic syndrome may be treated with testosterone replacement therapy. Testosterone therapy involves the exogenous inducement of testosterone through injections, gels, or oral supplements. These may have the effect of combating metabolic syndrome as well as stimulating endogenous testosterone production.
How does testosterone affect cognitive function?
While there is no clear-cut evidence that testosterone improves cognitive function, several studies have indicated that there exists a positive relation between cognitive function and increasing levels of testosterone.
Hypogonadism is a condition of andropause, and is caused by low levels of testosterone. Research on patients suffering from hypogonadism indicated an increase in levels of cognitive brain function, when they were treated with testosterone therapy.
Memory is one of the first mental functions to wane as people get older. As we age, it becomes harder and harder for us to grasp new knowledge and apply it in the same way that we were once capable of. In some cases, this loss of brain function may be tolerable. In other cases though, it may translate it into neurological disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Much research has been conducted in the quest of determining whether low testosterone levels are related to declining cognitive function.
Some studies indicate that patients may benefit significantly from testosterone therapy, with regard to cognitive function and memory. Patients have remarked how their minds are more alert, and they have more focus when undertaking tasks. It can be concluded that testosterone therapy does have a significant positive impact on cognitive function. However, when testosterone therapy was conducted on eugonadal (having healthy levels of testosterone) subjects, cognitive function did not seem to vary significantly. This led to suggestions that testosterone therapy can be extremely beneficial to hypogonadal patients but cannot be viewed as a universal stimulator of cognitive function.
How does testosterone affect mood and sex drive?
Patients with hypogonadism often complain that they suffer from depression and anxiety. When treated with testosterone therapy, many patients have exclaimed how they no longer felt fatigued but were rejuvenated in both, body and mind. Patients exhibited better psychological dispositions but it remains to be seen whether these effects were long-lasting or temporary.
More research needs to be conducted into determining whether these psychological improvements were simply a reaction to the physiological improvements that testosterone therapy caused, or whether testosterone has a direct effect on a person’s mood.
Patients suffering from reduced sex drives and erectile dysfunction as a result of hypogonadism also enjoyed several improvements, in those regards, after testosterone therapy. However, similar to the relationship between testosterone treatment and mood, research into the correlation between sex drive and function, and increased testosterone levels still remain inconclusive.
What is evident is that testosterone therapy can be hugely beneficial to patients suffering from hypogonadism. However, the question as to whether increasing the levels of testosterone in aging individuals who do not suffer from hypogonadism further increases cognitive function, mood, and sex drive, still remains unsolved.