Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Top to Toe – The Male Reproductive System -Testosterone and Cholesterol


men's health

We covered the physical components of the male reproductive system in the last post and despite being highly complex and mechanically a miracle of nature… Like a flash car they are useless without the right fuel.

In this case it would be the Male hormone – testosterone

Testosterone is the most important of the male sex hormones, called androgens.

It is responsible for the development of the male sexual and reproductive organs – which I have already covered in the first post on the male reproductive system. You can find all the Top to Toe posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

Testosterone also stimulates the development of the secondary male sex characteristics, such as an increase in muscle mass, increased body and facial hair, enlargement of the larynx and the vocal-chord-thickening, which leads to a deepening of the voice.

There are likely to be some changes in behaviour around this time too. In some cases there will be an increase in aggressive behaviour but there is certainly much more sexual awareness as the effects of the testosterone kick in.

Although testosterone is produced in the testes its production is regulated by a complex chain of messages that begins in the hypothalamus in the brain.

The hypothalamus secretes Gonadotropine-releasing hormone (GnRH) to the pituitary gland in carefully timed bursts. This triggers the release of luteinising hormone (LH) which in turn stimulates the Leydig cells of the testes to produce testosterone.

At puberty the production of testosterone increases very rapidly and declines equally rapidly after the age of 50. This change in testosterone levels is one of the reasons that it is quite likely that men will suffer some form of menopause and need to ensure that their diet reflects the reduction in this bone and muscle-protecting hormone. It is also possible that, as in women, the sexual hormones also help protect the body against a number of other diseases such as heart disease and cancers.

The testes produce between 4-7 mg of testosterone per day but – like the two female hormones oestrogen and progesterone – this decreases naturally with age. There are rare cases where young boys fail to develop at puberty, causing problems with bone and muscle development and underdeveloped sexual organs. The likely cause is damage to the hypothalamus, pituitary gland or the testes themselves.

How is testosterone produced?

Believe it or not one of the essential components needed to produce all hormones including testosterone is…. The demon cholesterol.

Cholesterol is known as a sterol and is naturally occurring in the human body and like any other substance that is present without human intervention… It has a purpose.

Without it there are certain vital functions in the body that would not happen. There would be no steroidal hormones such as testosterone or Vitamin D (that considers itself a hormone) and is so vital to our immune system and for regulating minerals such as calcium for bone density. Also cortisol the stress hormone that is needed to boost strength and energy in times of crisis.

Essential message network

Cholesterol is part of the communication network within the body and is responsible for relaying messages between cells. Whilst cells within an organ such as the brain will work together to perform a function, there are thousands of interactions a day between the brain and other organs in the body. Without that message being sent effectively to elements of the male reproductive system, those flash and miraculous organs would not function at all. This messaging service applies to all interactions between cells and organs of the body.

Cholesterol is also very important in later life to prevent cataracts and also in reducing the risk of dementia.

For those who read my health posts regularly, you will know that I am totally against the suggestion that all men and women over 50 should be prescribed statins to lower cholesterol levels which are already declining naturally.

Before I go onto to talk more about statins… I must stress that if you are taking this as a prescribed medication you should not suddenly stop taking without a consultation with your doctor. I do however urge you to research yourself and discuss other options.

A change in diet and lifestyle is just as effective at tackling an imbalance in cholesterol and it is my opinion that statins should only be prescribed when absolutely necessary, not as a preventative. The potential side effects of long term use of statins is only now becoming evident including loss of sex drive, reduced bone density, Vitamin D deficiency and therefore reduced immune system function and possibly higher risks of cancer, muscle wastage, liver damage and dementia. There is a great deal of information on the web and here is just one viewpoint. I encourage you to explore various sources.

http://drsircus.com/medicine/run-from-your-statin-recommending-cardiologist

A bit more about cholesterol

It is important that cholesterol in your body is balanced correctly. The problems arise when one of the components. LDL cholesterol is damaged by being oxidised.

This is where we come in.  Every substance in our bodies is produced through the processing of the food that we ingest. If that does not encourage you to think twice about what you are eating then nothing else will.

I admit that I do use the term lousy cholesterol for low density lipoprotein– because this is the one that can get contaminated and cause health problems. Although when talking about cholesterol we refer to high density lipoprotein and very low density lipoproteins (not usually in substantial amounts) as well, they are all the same molecularly but have different packaging to be transported in the blood stream.

HDL and LDL sub divide into different types of lipoproteins and at the moment more is still to be discovered about this. The LDL is associated with the plaque that forms in the arteries leading to blockages – the smaller the size of the LDL particles the more you are likely to develop coronary disease than if the particles are larger and less dense. There is a theory that if the walls of the arteries are damaged in any way, the smaller and denser particles of the LDL can push their way through that break in the tissue and start clumping together to form the plaque whilst the larger HDL particles would not gain purchase.

In essence then, whilst the LDL cholesterol does have a role in the body there are strong indications that if there is already weakness in the artery it will attract the smaller particles that will then clump forming the harmful plaque leading to coronary disease. There is another problem with LDL cholesterol which is oxidation – this is where the particles react with free radicals, produced through a number of activities including smoking and eating a diet high in white fat as found in processed foods, crisps, pastries and cookies.

Thank you for stopping by and please leave your views in the comments and click a few share buttons.. many thanks Sally

Next time early detection of prostate problems can save your life.

All the Top to Toe posts can be found her : https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

©sallygeorginacronin – Forget the Viagra, Pass me a Carrot. 2013

Thank you for dropping by and please feel free to share.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health 2017 -Top to Toe – The Male Reproductive System – Part One


men's health I am aware that some of you will have also seen these articles before on Men’s Health but I hope the message that they are trying to convey will encourage you to read again and also to share.

Understanding how our bodies work is the first step to prevention and then next and very vital step is knowing when something is not right. Early diagnosis saves lives and not only impacts your life but those closest to you.

The articles are aimed at increasing awareness about diseases, that if diagnosed early, can be monitored or treated to ensure that they do not reach a point where the outcome is fatal.

Both men and women are aware of the external components of their bodies but what lies beneath the skin is where silent killers prefer to lurk. Most of us did biology at school, but the nearest I got to seeing the internal reproductive organs, was the horrifying sight of a splayed dissected frog on a work bench one science lesson.

This means that most of us do not have a working knowledge of the organs or the systems that make up this amazing and miraculous system that reproduces another human being.

This series is not just aimed at men but to their partner in life.  They often notice changes in our bodies or our normal behaviour before we do. Also in the case of men, it is often their partners who are doing the shopping and the cooking. Diet and lifestyle play a crucial part in our health and having someone working with you to ensure you are eating a balanced diet is ideal.

Between 16 to 19 million men will die worldwide in the next 12 months. It is estimated that once you take out the non-medical reasons that over 65% of those men will die from noncommunicable diseases. This term applies largely to what I call Lifestyle induced disease.

The top killers of men are:-

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Certain cancers such as lung and prostate,
  3. Chronic lung disease,
  4. Diabetes. 

The formula for most of these diseases that are lifestyle related are:

Diet + Lifestyle choices + lack of exercise + stress.

I will be posting articles on the male reproductive system since this is what makes men unique from women. This is as important for the women in your life as it is to you. Since diet and lifestyle plays such a fundamental role in our health it is also important that if you are in a relationship that you are on the same page about this.

In my years of working in nutrition with clients, I soon discovered that when I reached the point where I was designing an eating programme for someone to improve their health or to lose weight, I needed to ask their partner along.  This came about after a wife accosted me in the supermarket one day. She gave me a severe talking to about how her cooking had been good enough for 25 years for her husband and how dare I suggest otherwise. I do most of the cooking in our household and I do understand the issue. Actually we did all work together and her husband lost five stone and was able to come off his blood pressure meds.. She also lost two stone and gave him a run for his money.

My point being? If you do decide that you need to make changes to your diet and lifestyle to improve your health or diet, don’t do it in isolation. Work together with your partner and explain the reasons why you want to make the changes and the benefits at the end of the day.  In some cases this could mean you being around for several more years so it is an important discussion.

The male reproductive system

Although this first comment has raised many a laugh over the years…the drivers behind our reproductive systems are indeed all in the mind.  Of course we will have certain organs in place before birth. However, it is the master controllers in the brain that will send out messages at various stages in our lives to increase or decrease the reproductive system’s development and activity levels.

You can find the posts on the brain in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

For the purposes of this series though I want to focus on the physical aspects of the system.

Although the male reproductive system is not quite as complex as the female system it still is prone to infections and diseases that can affect men at different stages in their lives.

As with women, men’s reproductive organs are divided into two parts, the internal and external organs and the gonads called the testes. When boys reach puberty, between 10-14 years old, gonadotropic hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain and the gonads grow and become active. The gonadotropic hormones also stimulate the production of the androgens or testosterone hormones, which in turn will promote the growth, and development of external genitalia as well as stimulating changes in the larynx. One of the outward signs of a boy reaching puberty is his voice breaking and then becoming deeper over the next few months.

The male reproductive organs are external and internal and include the testicles; duct system made up of the epididymis and vas deferens, the spermatic cord, the seminal vesicles and the penis.

The testicles or testes are oval shaped and grow to about 2 inches (5 centimetres) in length and 1 inch (3 centimetres) in width. They are formed in the embryo from a ridge of tissue at the back of the abdomen. They gradually move down the abdomen during the pregnancy, reaching the scrotum in time for the birth. They consist of seminiferous tubules, where sperm is manufactured and interstitial cells which produce the hormone testosterone. As a boy matures he produces more and more testosterone, so in addition to his deepening voice, he will develop more body hair, bigger muscles and produce sperm.

Alongside the testes are the epididymis and the vas deferens of the male duct system. The epididymis consists of elaborately coiled tubes that are attached to the back of each testis. These carry the sperm into the vas deferens, an extension of the epididymis that has become a muscular tube that takes the sperm up into the penis in semen.

The testes and the duct system are protected by a skin bag called the scrotum. One of its main roles is to maintain a slightly lower temperature than the rest of the body otherwise the testes will be unable to produce sperm.

There is a complex connective system between the penis and the testes called the spermatic cord that not only suspends the testes but contains and protects the blood vessels, sperm and hormone carrying tubes, nerves and lymph system that supply the scrotum. It is also covered by a number of layers including the cremasteric muscle, which is responsible for contracting the scrotum in extremes of temperature or during ejaculation.

As the sperm move up the vas deferens they pause in a storage area called the ampulla where they are bathed in seminal fluid from the vesicles situated just above each side of the prostate gland. This fluid stimulates the sperm to move spontaneously and actively as it passes through the prostate gland and penis into the vagina.

The prostate gland is a very small walnut shaped structure that sits at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts at the base of the urethra. Its role is to produce an alkaline fluid that mixes with the semen from the vesicles before it is passed into the penis to be ejaculated. This probably acts as a booster for the sperm keeping them active and therefore more likely to fertilise an egg should the opportunity arise. Unfortunately problems with the prostate can arise as men age and this either results in difficulties with the bladder or actual disease of the prostate. I will cover that in more detail later in the series.

The shaft of the penis contains a central tube, the urethra, leading to a small hole in the head of the penis called the meatus. This enables urine to pass from the bladder and out of the body or allows for the ejaculation of semen during intercourse. Because the urethra has a dual purpose, a strong muscle ring at the connection between the bladder and the tube ensures that urine only passes through when intended.

The penis is made up of groups of tissue that are responsible for erections. These tissues are supplied with a rich network of blood vessels, which become distended when a man is aroused. The blood is unable to flow back into the body and the penis therefore stiffens and rises as the internal pressure increases. After ejaculation the blood flow reduces to normal levels and the penis returns to a flaccid state.

All boys are born with a fold of skin that protects the glans from injury. This is called the foreskin and during an erection this peels back to allow the tip to be stimulated during intercourse. A lubricant called smegma is produced by the foreskin and the skin on the glans to make this action smooth, but poor hygiene, or irritants can lead to severe infections. Circumcision is often carried out on baby boys for both religious and health reasons.

Next time- The hormone element – Testosterone.

©sallygeorginacronin – Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot – Men’s health workshop manual 2012.