Luteinizing Hormone (LH) The Forgotten Hormone
Testosterone synthesis not only depends upon the testes functioning properly, but the pituitary gland as well. There is a hormone known as Luteinizing Hormone (LH) produced by the pituitary gland and released into the bloodstream in cyclical spurts. LH is literally a messenger to the testicles, ordering them to begin producing more testosterone. A perfectly healthy pair of gonads will sit dormant if they never receive the signal to spring into action.
There are usually two reasons that LH is never received by the testes:
A) It is never released into the bloodstream
B) Blood flow into the pelvic region permits too little to reach the testicles.
Due to the short duration of LH cycles and its lifespan in the bloodstream, an LH blood test may be inaccurate simply for the reason that blood samples may have been drawn at the low part of the cycle. But for the sake of argument, we will assume that the LH results are accurate. If LH is not getting into the bloodstream it could be that the pituitary is simply not producing the precious hormone or a more sinister problem such as a tumor or growth on the pituitary gland is blocking its release. If such a tumor goes unchecked, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and other critical secretions could also be affected, causing a nightmarish experience for the patient and his loved ones. This is yet another reason why low testosterone should not be simply dismissed as 'normal aging' and treated with a testosterone cream. Such a treatment could mask a potentially life threatening illness.
If LH is the messenger, the bloodstream is the pathway it takes to deliver its vital message. Just as on our highways an obstruction or blockage has the potential for keeping the message from being delivered. The Leydic cells sit and wait for a message that never comes or they receive only a portion of the LH , so they only produce a portion of the testosterone required. Increasing blood flow into the genitals is as easy as taking a walk, jogging, swimming, or any activity that increases your heart rate and involves moving the legs.
In the situation where LH is normal whereas testosterone, SHBG, and estrogens are low with optimal blood flow, then there is the increased liklihood that the Leydig cells have begun to die. In this case hormone replacement therapy may be warranted and the risk of causing the Leydig cells to waste away does not exist; after all, you cannot kill what is already dead.
If, however, LH levels are low and there is no tumor or growth on the pituitary gland, you may wish to try stimulating LH production with an herbal suppliment such as tribulus terrestris extract. Protodioscin, a saponen found in tribulus, has been shown to encourage the pituitary gland to produce LH in sufficient quantities to raise testosterone levels. Weight lifters have been using it since the 1970s without any serious side effects. The Chinese have used this herb for thousands of years to increase libido in both men and women. This herbal suppliment can be purchased at weight lifter nutrition centers, health food stores, or over the internet for a reasonable price. Try the product for a month, then repeat the blood test. Prior to the blood test, you may get an indication that its working such as strong morning erections, increased libido, and more energy. To a sufferer this can feel like a return to Eden.