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testosterone in the womb

Are testosterone levels determined before birth?


During pregnancy, many women try to take better care of themselves as they know everything they do effects the baby in the womb. Giving up smoking, eating healthier foods and exercising regularly all make a difference to how the fetus develops. What you put into your body gets passed to your baby; most of this can be controlled but some things are medical and therefore harder to control. An example of this is testosterone levels in the womb and the effect they have on the baby. Of course, this baby grows into an adult and the effect of exposure in the womb follows them into puberty the rest of their lives.

An interesting study done recently has connected some male health issues to low testosterone exposure in the womb. The study was done at the University of Edinburgh by scientists at the Medical Research Council for Reproductive Health. A fetus feeds off what the mother puts into her body, so it’s no coincidence that the baby also feeds off the mothers hormones. It’s not just what you put into your body; it’s what exists in there already.

Testosterone is vital Androgen hormone needed to maintain a long and healthy life. This applies to both men and women. Low levels of the hormone have been linked to increased risk of heart disease, weight problems, diabetes and even infertility. The study explored why some men suffer from low testosterone and others don’t. It seems that low exposure to testosterone in the womb is linked to a man’s testosterone levels in later life.

The foundation for this theory is based on the production and development of Leydig cells.

Leydig cells are derived from specific stem cells that are found in the testes. These Leydig cells develop during puberty and are responsible for the production of testosterone hormone in grown men. The study discovered evidence of these stem cells in the testes of fetuses, meaning the foundation for Leydig cells are present inside the womb. Ultimately these stem cells lead to creating testosterone so anything that affects the stem cells will affect future hormone production. If the stem cells are exposed to low testosterone in the womb then it’s logical to assume the pattern will follow through. As a result, when he Laydig cells develop later on if life they are impaired and do not produce enough testosterone.

Karen Kilcoyne performed the study during her PhD, led by Professor Richard Sharpe. Richard Sharpe from the MRC for Reproductive Health at Edinburgh University was involved in the study and says: “There is increasing evidence that a mother’s diet, lifestyle and exposure to drugs and chemicals can have a significant impact on testosterone levels in the womb. We need a better grasp of these factors so that we can give reliable advice to pregnant women to protect the health of her unborn child.”

Do you think this is a study worth pursuing? We’re watching with anticipation 🙂

The only way you can fully treat an illness is by understanding where it has come from and why it came about. More on this study would certainly give us more knowledge about why some people suffer and some don’t, and what causes it.

Moderately low testosterone levels can be controlled by maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle filled with exercise and healthy food. If you are worried about low testosterone please download this free booklet on testosterone facts and take a low testosterone test. There are testosterone treatments available if needed.

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