Medical Definition of Testosterone

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Testosterone: A "male hormone" -- a sex hormone produced by the testes that encourages the development of male sexual characteristics, stimulates the activity of the male secondary sex characteristics, and prevents changes in them following castration. Chemically, testosterone is 17-beta-hydroxy-4-androstene-3-one.

Testosterone is the most potent of the naturally occurring androgens. The androgens cause the development of male sex characteristics, such as a deep voice and a beard; they also strengthen muscle tone and bone mass.

High levels of testosterone appear to promote good health in men, for example, lowering the risks of high blood pressure and heart attack. High testosterone levels also correlate with risky behavior, however, including increased aggressiveness and smoking, which may cancel out these health benefits.

Testosterone may be given to treat medical conditions, including female (but not male) breast cancer, hypogonadism (low gonadal function) in the male, cryptorchism (nondescent of the testis into the scrotum), and menorrhagia (irregular periods).

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Testosterone is a chemical found only in men. See Answer

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018