There is an interesting development in the world of sports and this is the case of the female South-African athlete Caster Semenya (age 25) who has been in the media and officials scrutiny for the past 7 years. She runs the 800 m in track and field and she is very fast at it, finishing most of time in the top 3 spots in competitions. But questions started to arise as people looked closer at her (physically!). She looked more like a man than a woman.
The I.A.A.F., the sport’s governing body, subjected her to invasive gender verification tests and suspended her from competition for 11 months. Her level of testosterone was found to be 3 times the normal limit for a woman. After that, IAAF was prompt to enact a policy that restricted the permitted levels of testosterone in women, which sometimes occur naturally high in some women, arguing that high testosterone will give an unfair advantage to these women. This is a condition that in the medical field is called hyperandrogenism (or androgen excess). IAAF compelled anyone with levels above the limits to take hormones to lower them to more ‘normal’ levels to compete.
The ovaries are the main factories of testosterone in women. Signs and symptoms of hyperandrogenism frequently include acne, scalp hair loss (androgenic alopecia), excessive facial and body hair (hirsutism), atypically high libido, breast atrophy and irregular menstrual cycles. Collectively, these symptoms are described as virilization (masculinization). The condition is estimated to occur in 5% to 10% of women.
The IAAF set the permissible limit at 10 nmol/L, based on a study done of all the women competing in the World Championships in 2011 and 2013. 99% of the female athletes at those competitions had testosterone levels below 3.08 nmol/L. So the upper limit of 10 nmol/L was more than 3 times higher than the testosterone levels of 99% of the elite female athletes in those competitions and was considered by the experts “arguably too generous”. Semenya undertook hormonal therapy to suppress her levels.
Semenya is not the only hyper androgenic woman competing in the Olympics, just the most successful and thus the most scrutinized. She just won Gold in Rio 2016 in 800 meters. She is a lesbian and just got married with her longtime partner, Violet Raseboya.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a powerful hormone. It’s what puts hair on a man’s chest. It’s the force behind his sex drive. Testosterone leads to increased strength, speed, and power, IAAF experts argued, which is why many athletes try to illegally take synthetic versions of the hormone to boost their performance. Too much testosterone is dangerous also, because it increases the aggressive behaviors in men.
During puberty, testosterone helps build a man’s muscles, deepens his voice, increased bone density and strength, and boosts the size of his penis and testes. In adulthood, it keeps a man’s muscles and bones strong and maintains his interest in sex. In short, it’s what makes a man a man (at least physically). It is produced by the male testicles and the female ovaries.
After age 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in testosterone. The bad news. A decrease in sex drive usually accompanies the drop in testosterone.
Even worse, free testosterone (testosterone not bound in the blood to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)) levels decline more rapidly than total testosterone. Studies have shown that total testosterone decreases by approximately 30% in healthy men between the ages of 25 and 75. Free testosterone levels decline even more significantly with decreases of approximately 50%.
Good news for men is that there is natural remedies and therapies to raise your level of testosterone. And I know it’s not for you…you are OK…it’s for your friend who needs this!