The Effect of Testosterone on the Immune System

The Effect of Testosterone on the Immune System

Table of Contents

Your immune system allows you to fight off infections to stay healthy. An excessive immune response can lead to autoimmune diseases, while a poor response leaves you susceptible to frequent infections. There are many factors that can affect your immunity, including your stress levels, lifestyle, diet, and even your hormone levels.

The link between testosterone and the immune system is still being researched, but we do know that there is a correlation between them. Keep reading to learn more about the effect of testosterone on your immune system.

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. According to Harvard Health Publishing, is involved in many different roles, including:

  • Male genital organs development
  • Sex drive regulation
  • Bone growth and strength
  • Sperm production
  • Muscle growth and strength
  • Facial hair growth
  • Balding

How does testosterone affect the immune system?

For a long time, it was believed that testosterone always had a suppressive effect on the immune system. But modern research has found that that’s not necessarily true.

According to a study published by the American Journal of Biological Anthropology, endogenous testosterone can regulate your immune function because it helps manage the release of proinflammatory substances called cytokines. Endogenous testosterone is the testosterone that is produced by your own body. The study found that natural testosterone didn’t suppress the immune response; instead, it regulated it.

A study conducted by West Virginia University also found that testosterone may help keep inflammation under control, particularly in the digestive system. The study found that testosterone may help keep the balance between healthy and unhealthy immune responses, allowing your body to fight infections without hurting itself in the process.

Testosterone in women

Testosterone is mainly produced by males, but women also produce small amounts of this hormone in their ovaries. In women, testosterone helps regulate libido, mood, energy levels, and physical health. 

Not much is known about the relationship between testosterone and the immune system in women. But according to a study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, healthy testosterone levels also help regulate the female immune system. 

Low testosterone and COVID-19

Some studies also suggest that low testosterone levels could be a risk factor for severe COVID-19 infection. However, more research is still needed on this topic.

A study published by the journal Frontiers Endocrinology assessed male and female COVID-19 patients to discover the role of sex hormones on this disease. The study found that men had more severe COVID-19 manifestations, and that men with low testosterone levels had a higher risk of ICU admission and death.

These complications could be due to an exaggerated immune response in men with low testosterone. However, other risk factors need to be taken into account, such as obesity and chronic diseases. 

Despite the fact that the exact relationship between low testosterone and the immune system isn’t clear, research suggests that low testosterone could have a negative effect on your immune function. You can learn more about other reproductive health topics and STD testing at STDWatch.com.

Sources

Testosterone — What It Does And Doesn’t Do - health.harvard.edu

Associations between male testosterone and immune function in a pathogenically stressed forager-horticultural population - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Testosterone Deficiency Is a Risk Factor for Severe COVID-19 - frontiersin.org

Testosterone and immune-reproductive tradeoffs in healthy women - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

All gas, no brakes: Testosterone may act as ‘brake pedal’ on immune response, protect men from stomach inflammation - wvutoday.wvu.edu


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