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You probably already know that testosterone plays some very important roles in the male and female bodies alike. It supports muscle growth, bone density, and sexual health in both genders. Although many men (and some women) seek testosterone replacement therapy regularly, very few people actually stop to consider the possibility of testosterone side effects.

How Much Testosterone is Enough?

When men reach about age 30, their testosterone  levels start dropping. This is a fact of life, and some 70% of men will experience the symptoms of low testosterone in their 30s, 40s, and beyond. Some of these men seek testosterone replacement therapy, and the goal is to supplement their bodies’ waning production to boost their hormone levels back to “normal”. The term “normal” refers to amounts between 270ng/dL and 1070ng/dL. Anything less than 270 is considered low, and more than 1070 is high.

High Testosterone Side Effects

Men do not experience any negative side effects associated with testosterone when their levels fall within the normal range. In fact, having the right amount of testosterone actually lends a lot to overall health and well-being. You probably already understand the effects of having too little testosterone, but having too much can also cause problems. Most of these side effects are the result of the body’s conversion of excess testosterone into estrogen, and they include:

  • Oily skin and acne
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Gynecomastia
  • Water retention
  • Testicular atrophy

Symptoms like oily skin and prostate enlargement depend on genetics, though. If you have never had an issue with acne and if no one in your family has prostate issues, your odds of developing them are slim.

Testosterone Side Effects in Women

Women also need small amounts of testosterone in order to remain healthy. In women, normal testosterone levels range from 15ng/dL to 70ng/dL – only a fraction of what men have in their systems at any given time. Women rarely experience high testosterone, but female bodybuilders who supplement with anabolic steroids often do. Most steroids are derivatives of testosterone with very slight molecular changes, and when women use them, they often have higher-than-normal amounts of testosterone in their bodies. Virilization is the term given to a woman’s development of male physical traits due to high levels of testosterone. Symptoms include:

  • Deepening voice
  • Development of facial and body hair
  • Clitoral enlargement
  • Male-pattern baldness

Combatting High Testosterone Side Effects

For the most part, using an aromatase inhibitor during a cycle with a steroid or exogenous testosterone helps keep the testosterone side effects at bay. Your body uses an enzyme known as aromatase to break down extra testosterone into estrogen, and this excess estrogen is what causes the majority of the side effects. An aromatase inhibitor binds to the aromatase, essentially preventing it from converting that free testosterone into estrogen. AIs should be an integral part of your cycles.

Although testosterone is undeniably the most important chemical compound in your body when it comes to building mass and enjoying a lean, toned physique, it can cause problems if you do not mitigate them ahead of time. In fact, without the proper precautions, virilization and gynecomastia can become permanent.

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