Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a hormone that fosters the development of male characteristics (an androgen). It is created by converting testosterone, a more well-known androgen. Over 10% of the testosterone that an adult produces each day is broken down, producing DHT. The testes and prostate in men, the ovaries in women, the skin, and other organs including the liver all participate in this process. However, this number is significantly lower prior to puberty, and it is speculated that the increased DHT production may be to blame for the onset of puberty in boys, which results in the development of the genitals (penis, testicles, and scrotum), as well as the growth of pubic and body hair.
Additionally, this hormone promotes prostate growth and, this hormone is known to work in conjunction with testosterone to express male sexual behavior and also causes the prostate to enlarge. The actions of testosterone in the body are largely delayed until it is converted to DHT since it is several times more potent than testosterone.
Much less is known about DHT's role in women, however it is known to induce much of the face, body and pubic hair growth seen in females following puberty and may assist influence the age at which girls begin puberty.
How is the hormone DHT managed?
The amount of DHT in the body varies depending on the amount of testosterone present. More of the hormone is converted to estrogen when testosterone levels rise. As blood levels of testosterone and DHT rise, the hypothalamus suppresses the synthesis of GnRH, which in turn lowers pituitary gland production of luteinizing hormone. As a result, testosterone (and consequently dihydrotestosterone) levels begin to fall, reducing negative feedback and resuming GnRH release by the hypothalamus.
What occurs when I get an excess of DHT?
The effects of too much DHT, which frequently results from too much testosterone production, differ for both men and women. Before the onset of puberty, DHT levels are not likely to increase. Adult males who have too much DHT are similarly unlikely to see noticeable alterations. Women who have too much DHT may develop Hirsutism (excessive body, face, and pubic hair development), monthly irregularities (amenorrhea), and acne. Women who experience hirsutism frequently experience severe emotional distress as well as social shame. The cosmetic and psychological implications of Hirsutism can threaten feminine identity. Women who have too much DHT may also experience abnormal vaginal changes.
What occurs if my DHT levels are too low?
DHT is supposed to have fewer effects in women, and as a result, they are regarded to be relatively unaffected by having too little DHT. However, in girls with inadequate DHT, puberty may be delayed, and the amount of pubic and body hair present in adult females may be reduced.
Low amounts of DHT, on the other hand, can have severe effects in men. If there is insufficient DHT when male fetuses are still in the womb, they may not be masculinized, and their genitalia may resemble that of girls of the same age. Later in life, boys with insufficient DHT may experience some of the typical puberty changes (such as muscle growth and sperm production), but they will not develop normal body hair growth or genital development.