Testosterone — its reputation precedes it. It is the very essence of maleness and evokes images of raw strength and competitiveness, virility and square-jawed male maturity. It’s what makes a man a man, and without it we wouldn’t get from one generation to the next. But testosterone, and other male hormones collectively known as androgens, have effects that reach far beyond simply setting in motion sexual maturity for half of our species.
So what happens when someone lacks this body-morphing hormone? What about when you have too little, or too much? And what role does it play in the female body?
To tease out some of the remarkable effects of this ubiquitous hormone, I interviewed endocrinologist Professor Jeffrey Zajac on the latest episode of Up Close. Professor Zajac is the Director of Endocrinology at the Austin Hospital and Head of the University of Melbourne Department of Medicine.
Puberty and the period of adolescence that follows it mark what are probably the most awkward of our developmental transitions. It’s a time we remember most vividly, and sometimes cringe about years later. As well as the raging hormones, growth spurts and other physical changes, adolescents also need to navigate a bumpy social landscape where peer pressure reigns supreme.
Adolescence is when we start to work out who we are as we muddle our way through to adulthood. But for some, it’s a time when we can lose our way, sometimes with consequences that stay with us for many years, or even the rest of our lives.
What is it that makes puberty so disruptive? What’s going on biologically and emotionally when puberty hits early? And what are the consequences for well-being — both during adolescence and into the future?