THE HORMONE OF DOMINANCE TESTOSTERONE
THE HORMONE OF DOMINANCE TESTOSTERONE
Something that you’ve probably known intuitively for years is finally official: mothers of daughters are different than mothers of sons, and we produce the sex of children we’re most suited to bring up.
Traditional perception is that the sex of your baby is pure toss-of-the-coin chance, but ten years ago, Dr Valerie Grant, a reproductive scientist at the University of Auckland, came up with the theory that dominant women have high levels of testosterone (often considered the male sex hormone) and are much more likely to give birth to boys.
A small group of researchers, from anthropologists to evolutionary biologists, have known for years that something other than chance affects the human sex ratio which, rather than remaining at a constant 50:50 male to female, is prone to fluctuations.
During both World Wars, for example, there was an increase in the number of male births. Grant, who has a PhD in psychology, was the first to suggest that it was down to the character of the mother. “Scientists already knew that mothers behave differently towards their babies according to their sex-mothers of boys are more initiating, mothers of girls more responsive, but the conclusion was that this was because of the strength of sex stereotyping. I’d say there was evidence that the mothers were behaving in ways that were natural to them.”
The link between female dominance and sex of offspring had already been documented in mammals such as deer but Grant came up with the Simple Adjective Test, which asked women how often they felt proud, vigorous, rejected, selfsatisfied, fearful and so on and, at the same time, measured their blood for testosterone. She found that women who are confident, assertive, influential and with a strong sense of self have high levels of testosterone and produce sons, whereas mothers of daughters tend to be more nurturing, empathic and tolerant and have lower testosterone.
Although the research was widely published in respected scientific journals, Grant admits that even after six separate studies over 20 years, the theory is still considered controversial and has only recently become an accepted academic subject.
Testosterone is basically considered as an androgen that means a male hormone. Although it is a male hormone, it is also produced by females ovaries and adrenal glands. Most people don’t even know that women even have testosterone. But it’s a fact. The production of testosterone in women is about one-seventh of men’s daily production.
Anecdotally, it is always going to be easy dismiss Grant’s theory by coming up with someone who does not fit the mould. That is because most women can produce both-sex children. If you draw a normal distribution curve of testosterone, most women will fall in the middle; they have a medium amount and fluctuate from side to side across a middle line month to month, perhaps producing an egg adapted to an X chromosome one cycle, a Y chromosome the next. In women, testosterone is also very influenced by external stress-such as a death in family or even changing jobs.
EFFECTS OF TETSOSTERONE LEVELS ON WOMEN’S HEALTH:
Recalls a doctor, “a women in her late twenties, came to see me complaining about her difficulty in losing weight. After taking a medical history, it was very difficult to tell what the basis of her problem was. She was working out daily, with a balance of aerobic exercise and weight training under the guidance of a qualified personal trainer. Her diet was a basic low carbohydrate/ high protein diet. Even more perplexing, she had been taking a caffeine/ephedrine thermogenic stack and had previously experimented with some diet drugs as well. Something was obviously wrong. I did blood tests to check all of her hormone levels. When the results came back, all of her hormones were in the normal range except for, you guessed it, testosterone! She had very low free testosterone level. It was equal to that seen in postmenopausal women. This was an obvious source of her fat loss problem”.
While the role of testosterone in maintaining muscle mass and losing body fat may be obvious to bodybuilders and athletes, it is a basic hormonal fact that is often ignored by the medical community. It is known that many women begin to gain fat rapidly about ten to fifteen years before the menopause and also after.
Most women are often only given estrogens and progestins as hormone replacement therapy, but not testosterone. But researchers have now observed that giving women estrogen and progesterone and not testosterone makes it almost impossible for them to lose weight/fat.
Progesterone and estrogen are two vital hormones of women. As the age passes, their production decline. Along with these hormones, testosterone production also starts declining with age. Haven’t we come across cases of women with six boys in a row and suddenly producing a girl in her forties.
Well the first and the foremost effects of dipping testosterone are seen as low sex drive (libido) in women.
So why isn’t testosterone more commonly given for weight loss in women?
This is due to a number of studies linking upper body obesity/abdominal obesity in women to elevated testosterone levels. Once again, this is a case of blaming one hormone as a “villain”. In these women, they do in fact have higher than normal testosterone levels but their whole hormonal system is out of balance. Not only do they have high testosterone levels, but they also have poor insulin sensitivity as well as high insulin levels. Often these women have a metabolic problem of insulin resistance, which is associated with obesity.
Do you have dry and thin skin? This may be a sign of lack of oil production from your sebaceous glands. A lack of oil production can be related to a decline in testosterone. Also thinning, atrophy, or inflammation of the introitus (the vaginal opening) can be from a hormone imbalance. Even painful intercourse can be due to the lack of estrogen and testosterone.
Some research suggests women with lower levels of testosterone are more prone to heart disease. A study of post-menopausal women published in the European Journal of Endocrinology found that women who had atherosclerosis – a thickening of the arteries – had significantly lower levels of testosterone compared with women who did not have the disease.
However just as less testosterone is not good, higher amounts of testosterone can be equally delirious.
Excessive levels of testosterone can lead to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This causes excess body hair, oily skin and fertility problems.
Testosterone is vital for healthy hair, stimulating hair growth in the follicle – but too much and women sprout excessive hair.
Older women produce less oestrogen and so have higher levels of testosterone, meaning they are prone to excess facial hair. Yet raised testosterone levels can also cause hair loss on the head, leading to some women developing male-pattern baldness, with a receding hairline at the temple and around the ears.
The gist of all this is how nature has fine-tuned both woman and man interplaying with hormones. Each hormone is important- what we thought to be a sex specific hormone or chemical has its due effect on the other sex. What is necessary today is appreciate this balance of chemicals and avoid any disturbances in their levels because hormonal imbalance means a disorderliness in your routine.
Ref-healthscreen june 2010