Testosterone production differs a bit in men vs. women. Members of both genders require testosterone for many reasons, which is why protecting its production is crucial throughout life. As we examine the answer to where is testosterone produced in the adult body, we will get a clear idea of how our actions can increase or decrease some of our testosterone secretion.
Testosterone production is part of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. We begin with the hypothalamus, the endocrine gland responsible for measuring multiple hormone levels in the bloodstream. As the hypothalamus determines if a hormone is in low, normal, or excess supply, it responds by releasing other hormones to the pituitary gland to either initiate or inhibit hormone production. In the case of testosterone, the hypothalamus sends gonadotropin-releasing hormone to the pituitary gland to stimulate the release of hormones that aid in testosterone production and function.
Where is testosterone produced in the body once the pituitary gland sends its hormones out into the bloodstream?
Testosterone produced in males comes from the Leydig cells in the testes. Also called interstitial cells, the Leydig cells are located between the seminiferous tubules. A small amount of testosterone also comes from the adrenal glands.
Testosterone produced in females comes from multiple places. Approximately one-quarter of a woman’s testosterone comes from her ovaries. A similar amount comes from her adrenal glands, with the remainder – roughly one-half the testosterone manufactured each day coming from various types of peripheral tissue such as fat and skin cells.
As we decipher testosterone produced by which gland in men and women, we can see how its functions also differ. Women typically make only one-tenth to one-twentieth of the volume of testosterone each day as men.
Testosterone comes mainly from the testes and adrenal glands in men and the ovaries, adrenals, and peripheral tissue in women.
How Does the Body Produce Testosterone?
Now that we know the answer to, where is testosterone produced, it is time to examine the method of production. Although it is the hypothalamus that regulates hormone release, the manufacturing of testosterone originates with cholesterol.
If that surprises you, know this – cholesterol is the source for all steroid hormones. Without enough dietary cholesterol, the liver must work overtime to produce the cholesterol that is the precursor to steroid hormones.
Through a series of enzyme, amino acid, protein, and hormone conversions, cholesterol first becomes pregnenolone before turning into either DHEA or progesterone. DHEA and progesterone are precursor hormones to androstenedione, the hormone that then becomes testosterone. These hormonal processes occur in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonads.
To stimulate the production of testosterone, pituitary gland release of luteinizing hormone (LH) heads to the testes where it tells the Leydig cells to manufacture testosterone. Another vital chemical messenger, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) also reaches the tests, but it has a different function – sperm production via the Sertoli cells. The maturation of sperm cells in a process called spermatogenesis requires testosterone. Without adequate signals from the hypothalamus, FSH and LH levels coming from the pituitary gland will decline, resulting in decreased testosterone and sperm production.
Testosterone produced in women follows a slightly different path. Androstenedione in the ovaries converts directly into estrone, a form of estrogen. Some of the androstenedione can also synthesize into testosterone. DHEA and DHEA-S in the adrenal glands synthesize into testosterone. LH release in women stimulates the production of estradiol, the primary form of estrogen.
Testosterone is produced through a series of hormone conversions beginning with cholesterol – the precursor to all steroid hormones.
Why Is Sleep Important for Testosterone Production?
Sleep may be one of the biggest factors in testosterone production. Research has shown that three factors – elevated BMI (body mass index), lack of sleep, and increased age are associated with low testosterone levels. Carrying around excess weight is one of the primary reasons why many adults have lower testosterone to estrogen ratio. Belly fat produces an enzyme called aromatase which is the convertor of free testosterone into estradiol in men and women, decreasing testosterone levels.
As testosterone levels decline, another hormone begins to increase. Cortisol, the stress hormone, remains low when testosterone levels are normal. Only when presented with a stressful situation do cortisol levels increase. However, once the stressor is over, cortisol declines once again. When testosterone is not there to oppose cortisol, its levels begin to climb. Since cortisol keeps your brain on high alert, it becomes difficult to relax and fall asleep. As a result, testosterone produced during sleep decreases.
As we examine when and where is testosterone produced, we find that much of the testosterone our bodies need will enter the bloodstream during deep, slow-wave sleep. Not only is sleep essential for testosterone secretion, but for growth hormone production, as well.
When testosterone levels are low, cortisol levels increase, interfering with sleep and the production of testosterone.
How Can I Increase Natural Testosterone Production?
Maintaining testosterone levels is crucial for optimal health and well-being. Unfortunately, there are times when this is beyond one’s control – such as when a tumor in the brain or gonads interferes with testosterone production. Of course, if that is not the case, then ensuring that testosterone produced and secreted from the gonads, adrenals, and peripheral tissues is continued in an adequate supply is essential.
There are ways to help your body maintain natural testosterone production, including:
- Getting adequate sleep – anything less than seven hours of quality sleep can significantly decrease your testosterone levels. In one study, participants who slept only 5 hours per night saw a 15% decrease in testosterone levels.
- Engaging in high-intensity interval training and weightlifting – these types of exercise help the body increase natural testosterone production during the day. Avoid extended sessions of cardio training, such as long-distance running. That can actually decrease testosterone levels.
- Reduce stress and cortisol levels – cortisol opposes testosterone, as well as growth hormone levels. The more cortisol you have in your bloodstream, the lower your testosterone levels will get. Utilize stress reduction techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, walking, listening to music, massages, and other methods to help you relax.
- Watch what you eat – sugar, refined carbs, and excessive alcohol consumption can inhibit testosterone production. Healthy fats, organic, grassfed beef, fatty fish, fruits, and vegetables can help boost testosterone production.
- Lose weight – carrying around extra fat, especially around the abdomen can lower testosterone levels. Losing weight, including through intermittent fasting, can help boost testosterone production.
- Try supplements – making sure you get enough vitamin D, B, C, and zinc can help maximize testosterone levels.
For more information about where is testosterone produced, please contact RX Hormone Medical Clinic for a free, confidential phone consultation.