Many of us know what testosterone - the male sex hormone - is. However, most don’t realize that it is also present in the bodies of women, although in small quantities. In fact, it can affect the condition and functionality of the reproductive system. Therefore, expectant mothers often have questions related to testosterone levels during pregnancy and the influence of this hormone.
- Testosterone production rates increase by several times during pregnancy.
- There are numerous reasons why the average standard for levels of this hormone in anticipation of a baby is unknown.
- Blood tests for testosterone during pregnancy do not give information about the skilled action of hormones on a woman's body.
Why do women need testosterone?
Testosterone is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics (physical shape, external genitalia) and assists in the development of the follicle in the ovaries of women involved in the development of bone and muscle tissue.
It also affects mood and regulates the activity of the sebaceous glands along with bone marrow activity. It is the source of male sex hormones (androgens). The ovaries and adrenal glands of females include testosterone.
In women, testosterone is low, but during pregnancy its amount increases tenfold. Provided this, another rise in levels of the expectant mothers comes from another source of androgens – the placenta. In the third trimester, if the child is a boy, testosterone levels can rise again, because it is isolated in the tissues of the child.
What are the norms of hormonal levels during pregnancy?
The hormone rate for women for normal conditions is 0.45-3.75 nmol /liter. Standards for levels of testosterone during pregnancy are far from this.
This circumstance is due to several reasons. One is the fact that the substance can float in the blood as free molecules. Then they bind to cell receptors and cause the desired effect. In addition to this, hormones can be bound to proteins, which transport them into the blood. In this form they cannot carry out their functions. From results of the conventional analysis is not clear what proportion of the free hormone is ideal, and therefore to assess the situation, a simple measurement of the level of this substance in the blood is uninformative.
We must also consider the fact that during pregnancy the body produces large amounts of the female hormone estradiol, which stimulates the synthesis of proteins which are sex hormone binding, including testosterone. Therefore, the majority of pregnant women have inactive testosterone.
Furthermore, the fetus is protected from excessive action of testosterone by placental enzymes that transform the male sex hormones in women.
In conclusion, we see that the elevated levels of testosterone in the blood of the expectant mother does not mean that the hormone acts on the body excessively.