3.1. Endurance and Resistance Exercise – Many studies have addressed the effect of habitual or intervention exercise on basal (resting) serum testosterone concentrations, with no clear effect reported so far. Studies have investigated the associations between the degree of physical activity and basal plasma testosterone concentrations.
The 5-year-long NHANES study included 738 participants, who were classified in three tertiles, based on metabolic equivalent of task (MET) score, and according to the compendium of physical activities. No cross-sectional association was found between a greater physical activity and changes in basal plasma testosterone concentrations,
Houmard et al. showed that despite increasing endurance exercise’s frequency, duration, and intensity over 14 weeks (3–4 days/week, 30–45 min/day), no significant changes in the resting plasma testosterone concentrations were noted. Similarly, White et al.
Found no change in resting testosterone concentrations with higher training mileage (i.e., 100% increase in the habitual distance run for 12 weeks) in recreational joggers. MacKelvie et al. showed similar basal serum testosterone concentrations between long-distance runners and age-matched sedentary controls.
In highly trained swimmers, the basal plasma testosterone concentrations did not differ between periods of intensive training and exercise tapering, Interestingly, some studies have even shown that chronic endurance exercise can correlate inversely with basal serum testosterone concentrations.
For instance, professional cyclists tend to have lower basal T-Testo after major competitions compared to baseline, Safarinejad et al. conducted a randomized trial of middle-age men undergoing intensive treadmill running. Throughout the study period, these men had low basal serum testosterone concentrations, which was associated with low follicular-stimulating hormone (FSH) and LH levels.
The authors hypothesized that exercise-associated stress induced production of reactive oxygen species that can suppress the hypothalamic pituitary axis and cause hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Interestingly, the sex hormone binding globulin levels did not decrease with declining T-Testo, reflecting that the serum testosterone changes are not related to the variation in serum binding globulin.
Hackney et al. reported that endurance trained men had lower T-Testo than sedentary men. In this study, LH levels were not elevated despite the lower limit values of testosterone, which may indicate HPA axis suppression with long-term endurance exercise. On the other hand, lower basal testosterone concentrations have been reported despite unaltered plasma LH and FSH levels,
Thus, although low basal testosterone concentration is likely due to HPA suppression and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism during chronic exercise, additional contributing factors affecting the serum testosterone concentrations in the absence of LH suppression are yet to be determined.
Although studies have proven that resistance exercise can cause significant acute changes in serum testosterone concentrations, similar changes were not observed in basal plasma testosterone levels. Nicklas et al. reported no significant change in basal serum testosterone concentrations after 16 weeks of progressive resistance training program.
Moreover, the previously mentioned study by Hansen et al. showed unchanged resting testosterone concentrations during unilateral biceps curl exercise alone or in combination with bilateral knee extensions and leg press. Therefore, independent of exercise type, nature, or intensity, exercise does not seem to increase resting T-Testo.
Does running increase testosterone?
Does Running Decrease Testosterone Levels? – Now that we’ve answered does running increase testosterone levels, let’s see if it decreases its levels. Although high-intensity, sprint-type running can increase testosterone production, endurance exercise, including most distance running training, can decrease testosterone.
Studies have found that chronic endurance training has been observed to decrease resting total testosterone and increase cortisol levels in males, Additionally, one study involving male endurance athletes found that a steady-state long run (97 minutes) on the treadmill at ventilatory threshold 75% of VO2 max, caused a significant decrease in free testosterone levels.
This drop persisted for 72 hours after the exercise bout, indicating that testosterone levels may take up to 72 hours or more to return to baseline after a long run, Furthermore, low testosterone in male runners appears to be correlated with consistent and chronic training. This reduction then seemed to plateau and remain in effect—but not worsen significantly—for runners who had been training for 5-15 years. Low testosterone levels in endurance-trained male runners are thought to be an adaptive response to the physiological and psychological stress from endurance training.
Does sport increase testosterone in females?
For women, the role of testosterone in the body is not always clear. Here is some basic information that every woman should know about this mighty hormone. and why it’s not just for the boys. Testosterone is a steroid hormone that belongs to a class of hormones called androgens.
It is produced mostly in the testes of men and the ovaries of women, although small amounts are produced in the adrenal glands as well. Testosterone is best known for its anabolic effects, like building muscle and tissues, helping with protein synthesis, and increasing bone density. Testosterone also has androgenic effects that we often associate with male secondary sex characteristics, i.e.
deepening of the voice, development of facial and body hair, and changes in facial bone contours. For both men and women, testosterone plays a key role in the development and maintenance of muscle mass, strength, energy levels, and bone density. For women in particular, the maintenance of bone density and muscle mass is important, as both of these tend to deteriorate with age.
- Testosterone may also offer females some more subtle effects, like impacting mood and (here’s the big one) sexual desire.
- That’s rightthe big “T” is linked to the big “O” for women as well as men.
- Women with low testosterone (low T) may experience decreased libido and persistent fatigue.
- For athletes in particular, muscle weakness is another frequent complaint.
Because testosterone is a hormone, symptoms of deficiency resemble symptoms of depression and other mood disorders, In fact, certain experts argue that misdiagnosis and lack of treatment are common for these reasons.
Exercise less (if you’re exercising too much). For both men and women, overtraining — the type often seen in endurance sports like distance running — can actually decrease your testosterone. Take time to rest if you need it! Exercise more (if you’re not exercising). While endurance training may be associated with decreased testosterone levels, research indicates that acute endurance training and resistance training can actually increase your circulating androgens – including testosterone. Move some weight. Take a break from the treadmill and hit the weights instead. In addition to increasing androgen levels, resistance training comes with a ton of other amazing benefits for women, including stronger bones (reducing your risk of developing osteoporosis) and weight loss. It’s recommend that women resistance train two to three times a week. Have more sex. There is a correlation between testosterone levels and sexual activity for women. While it is believed that individuals with higher testosterone levels tend have higher libidos, some research indicates that it is the sex itself that may be increasing women’s testosterone. Several studies showed that sexual arousal leads to small increases in plasma testosterone levels for women. Eat more zinc. Zinc is powerful little mineral, which blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen. More zinc = less converted estrogen = higher testosterone. Good sources of zinc include oysters (hence their reputed aphrodisiac abilities) and other seafood, pumpkin seeds, red meat (especially beef and lamb), and spinach. Eat more magnesium. Magnesium is also believed to increase your testosterone by inhibiting testosterone from binding to its binding protein, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). As a result, you have more free testosterone (the biologically active type of T) floating around in your blood. Great sources of magnesium include: fish, beans, nuts, and leafy green vegetables.
Between 4% and 7% of women produce too much testosterone in their ovaries. Some of these women have a pattern of symptoms called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, This diagnosis is important for women, as PCOS can lead to infertility and other problems.
Another possible effect of high T in women is excessive hair growth in unwanted areas, known as hirsutism. (Yes, there’s a scientific name for those pesky chin hairs you have to pluck.) Other signs include: acne, excessive perspiration, frontal balding, and deepening of the voice. If your testosterone is high, you should talk to you doctor.
Your doctor will likely check your testosterone levels and refer you to an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in hormone levels and glandular functions. Certain factors, like smoking, obesity, and PCOS, are also associated with high testosterone The role of testosterone in the female physiology continues to be studied by scientists and researchers.
Does more testosterone mean more stamina?
Five ways testosterone therapy can improve your sex life – Testosterone is an important male hormone responsible for muscle mass, bone strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm. It can also affect your mood, emotions, libido and erections. Here are five ways testosterone therapy can improve your sex life:
Higher levels of testosterone helps boost overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity. TRT can improve erectile function, which in turn improves performance. Stabilizing your testosterone helps lift your mood, which may lead to heightened interest in sexual intercourse. Adequate amounts of testosterone in your body decreases fat mass and increases muscle size and strength, which can lead to more stamina in the bedroom. Boosting testosterone can help you sleep better and avoid fatigue, which can help you feel more energetic throughout the day.
If you’re struggling with low libido, erective dysfunction and are interested in testosterone therapy, contact SynergenX at 888-219-7259, We can help you feel better and restore your interest in sex.
Do girlfriends increase testosterone?
Does female presence affect testosterone levels in men? Testosterone is commonly known as the male hormone (females have testosterone as well, but at lower concentrations). Testosterone is associated with certain behaviors, such as being socially dominant, aggressive, and sexually aroused.
- Because of its association with sexual arousal, it can be speculated that females influence testosterone levels in men.
- This study investigated the impact of female presence on male testosterone levels and their risk-taking behavior.
- Subjects were skateboarders (n=96) and were randomized to show tricks to 1) a male researcher, or 2) an 18-year-old attractive female researcher.
The attractiveness of the female researcher was assessed by 20 independent males who rated her from 1 (very unattractive) to 7 (very attractive). She was rated a 5.6/7 and this was further supported by many informal comments and phone number requests from the skateboarders.
- Testosterone levels were 39% higher when the female researcher was present.
- In addition, the skateboarders were taking greater risks on their tricks (which resulted in more successes, but also more crashes).
- The researchers speculate that males take more risks when an attractive female is present, in an attempt to impress her and thereby increase their dating potential.
In order to do so, males seem to be willing to accept increased risk at harm. Testosterone was assessed at a single time point at the end of the experiment. Therefore, the time pattern of the increase in testosterone could not be established (e.ge how fast it goes up, how long it stays elevated after the female leaves, etc).
Can having a girlfriend increase testosterone?
The Length of the Relationship – MoMo Productions // Getty Images The excitement and warm, fuzzy feeling of a new relationship may give your testosterone a boost. A 2015 study found that single men and men in new relationships had higher testosterone levels than men in long-term relationships.
Does high testosterone attract females?
2. Testosterone helps you attract women. – Testosterone may actually make you more attractive to women (which can help quench that extensive sex drive). This is partially because of the masculine-feminine dynamic. Estrogen gives women their feminine qualities, while testosterone causes more masculine qualities.
- An estrogenic woman is often attracted to a man with high T levels and vice versa.
- This makes for prime reproduction.
- In this case, opposites do attract.
- However, the reason for this attraction actually goes beyond the masculine-feminine relationship.
- Researchers at Wayne State University studied two groups of men competing for the attention of an attractive woman.
They found that men with higher levels of testosterone were more likely to “win the girl.” This was because men with higher T levels were more assertive, controlled the conversation, had more confidence and demonstrated a stronger self-image. Basically, it can give you the confidence and suaveness you need to talk to a woman in a bar.
Does increased testosterone cause horniness?
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Testosterone could use a new publicist. Over the years, it’s become shorthand for some less-than-desirable “male” personality traits—aggression, violence, the inexplicable popularity of Nickelback. But the truth is, all people have testosterone, but it is present in much higher levels in men. Testosterone is vital and indispensable to several bodily processes, including sex drive.
So if you experience low testosterone (low T) or low libido, you may wonder—does testosterone increase sex drive? The connection isn’t entirely clear, but research shows that men with low testosterone are likelier to have a low sex drive. Continue reading to learn more.
- Testosterone is an essential sex hormone for both men and women, but men have way more of it.
- It’s mostly produced in the testicles in response to signals from the pituitary gland; some testosterone is also made in the adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney.
- Along with DHT (another hormone synthesized from testosterone), testosterone is responsible for the physical changes that occur in males during puberty, including secondary sexual characteristics like pubic hair growth, muscle growth, and sperm production ( Nassar, 2021 ).
In men, testosterone plays a significant role in (Nassar, 2021):
- Erectile function
- Sperm production
- Bone density and muscle mass
- Red blood cell production
- Growth of facial and body hair
Testosterone is one of the hormones that physiologically stimulate the male sex drive. How does it do that, exactly? Researchers aren’t sure, but they’ve found that reduced libido is one of the most common symptoms of low testosterone levels (low T). As part of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study (MMAS), researchers spoke with over 1,500 men about their sex drive, then measured their testosterone levels.
Do high achievers have high testosterone?
Testosterone as Motivation for Risk and Competition – Research has shown that right before high-profile chess matches, grandmasters will have a spike in their testosterone levels. Other studies have found surgeons will experience a 500% increase in their T right before demanding operations. Similar rises in blood testosterone levels have been observed in football players immediately before a game, and even in folks about to lead their pooches through a dog competition.
- Thus, no matter the arena, nor whether the challenge is physical or mental, testosterone spurs us to strive to be the best.
- It does this partly by revving up the dopamine in our brains, which motivates us to seek rewards.
- Testosterone also nudges us to seek status by reducing fear and increasing our tolerance for risk.
It takes some chutzpah to put yourself out there and try to gain dominance. There’s a good chance your efforts will result in abject failure, or simply be fruitless, and that you’ll end up lowering instead of raising your status. So there’s an element of risk whenever you try to climb any kind of hierarchy — the degree of which differs from situation to situation.
A joke at a party you told in the hope of ingratiating yourself carries the chance of bombing, which, while it may be embarrassing, won’t dramatically affect your well-being. Your decision to quit your job and start a company even better than the one you left, however, carries with it the risk of failure, professional embarrassment, and financial ruin.
Testosterone’s status-seeking effect doesn’t stop once we’ve put our foot on the first rung of the ladder, either. Whenever we win (or perceive that others think highly of us), our body reinforces the drive for status by giving us another testosterone boost.
Research has shown that when people win competitions that are important to their sense of self, testosterone levels surge; if they lose, their testosterone levels decrease and cortisol levels increase (more on cortisol in a bit). Heck, just watching your favorite sports team win will result in higher T levels ; watching them lose, however, lowers your testosterone (Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Phillies fans, you might want to get some testosterone gel from your doctor).
This follow-up dose of T received by victors makes them hungry for more action and eager to jump back into the arena. In studies looking at how winning and losing can affect testosterone levels, researchers found the winners were gung-ho to compete again.
Losers, on the other hand, whose T levels had dropped from the defeat, were more likely to opt-out of participating in another competition. These fluctuations in testosterone only occur whenever the status competition is relevant to a person’s sense of self. If professional football is superfluous to you, then your T levels won’t be affected by whether your hometown team wins or loses the Super Bowl.
But if money is important to you, and you put some cash on that game, your testosterone levels will rise heading into the “competition,” but fall if your team loses. Even achieving success in situations that we don’t think of as real contests can impact your T; slaying your friends with jokes or nailing a presentation will level up you testosterone, making you feel awesome and ready to take on the world.
- The fact that you only get a rise/drop in T in relation to status pursuits you care about also means that your higher thinking functions can exercise some control over this physiological/neurological response.
- For example, if you’re going after a girl you really want, and she keeps rejecting you or failing to reciprocate signs of interest, and making you feel miserable, at a certain point you can decide you’re over it altogether, or are simply going to drop your expectations for how things are going to go with her.
Really becoming aloof to how she treats you might take some time and cognitive work, but eventually her behavior will fail to trigger a reaction in you.
What is the highest natural testosterone?
Kickoff As snowflakes mix with freezing rain, my 16-year-old son, Ben, and I clutch cryovials and get ready to spit into them. It’s 4:04 p.m. Sunday, December 12. We’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with throngs of drunken Steelers fans high in the rarefied-oxygen section of Heinz Field.
- Far below, our beloved black-and-gold army is poised to decimate the green-and-white marauders, a.k.a. the Jets.
- Ben and I are here today not just as die-hard fans but as test subjects as well, hoping to use saliva samples to note changes in our levels of testosterone,
- It may seem more stereotype than science, but the gridiron truly is a perfect laboratory for the study of masculine chemistry—an ideal place to witness this molecular force of nature and, perhaps, to learn how to harness it to our will.
That T levels fluctuate according to a team’s fate is now well established. In recent years, endocrine researchers have learned that competitors in everything from tennis to chess are likely to see a small but significant rise in testosterone following a victory, and a commensurate decline after a loss.
- A similar pattern has also been demonstrated in a team’s fans.
- Consider: During one World Cup soccer final, researchers from Georgia State University collected before-and-after saliva samples from men watching the game at Brazilian and Italian sports bars.
- When Brazil won in the final second, the levels of testosterone in 11 of the 12 Brazilian men soared—and all of the Italians’ levels plummeted.
I decide to run this finding past a 31-year-old man-beast we meet while tailgating, Tom, who sports a brass nose ring and a Jack Lambert tattoo on his massive deltoid, is blackening and gilding his chest beside a smoldering charcoal fire. “There’s a theory that testosterone goes up if you win and down if you lose,” I say, hoping he won’t take offense and pummel me.
Do you believe that?” “Yes, sir!” Tom says, his voice already raspy from too much yelling and Iron City beer. “You can feel it.” Shivering in my parka, I ask if testosterone also keeps a person warm. “That and the booze,” Tom says. I decide not to mention that chronic alcohol consumption eventually causes a man’s T levels to convert to the female hormone estradiol.
Over time, it’s not unusual for alcoholic men to sprout enlarged breasts. As we walk away, Ben asks, “Did you see that guy’s other tat?” I shake my head. “He had written on his arm, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ ” Testosterone Research In 1929, University of Chicago professor Fred Koch and his coworkers mashed up several tons of bovine testicles, extracting in the process-for the first time in human history-a few ounces of pure testosterone.
- With this pioneering work, Koch and his long line of descendant researchers knew they had hit upon something preternaturally potent.
- Soon after the initial extraction, another professor, W.C.
- Allee, injected a smidgen of testosterone into the bloodstreams of hens.
- Overnight, submissive egg-layers transmogrified into bombastic she-roosters prone not only to boisterous cockadoodling but also to aggressive courtship with other hens.
Flash forward to the modern day, and the genie unleashed from bull balls 76 years ago has become the most famous—and infamous —celebrity hormone on the face of the earth. Scientists know more than ever about how the T regularly released from human testicles moderates the minds, bodies, and spirits of men.
- As the substance circulates to every tissue within us, it binds to specialized cell receptors, or penetrates deep within the cells themselves and activates dormant genes in our DNA.
- Through such triggering mechanisms, T initiates complex biochemical chain reactions that temper everything from our will to dominate and mate, to our visual-spatial acuity, and even to the quality of our REM sleep.
“When testosterone first starts to surge in our bloodstreams at puberty, everything changes,” says endocrinologist Richard Spark, M.D., an associate clinical professor of medicine at Harvard and the author of Sexual Health for Men: The Complete Guide.
- You become interested in girls, you start getting erections, your body transforms—and all of this comes suddenly, without any warning.
- Testosterone is, by definition, a very sexy substance.
- It’s not surprising that anything involved with testosterone seems to make headlines.” In the past year, the nation’s sports pages were dominated (yet again) by accounts of high-profile athletes caught “P.U.I.” (playing under the influence of too much T).
“Testosterone, on some level, could have had an effect on last year’s Pacers-Pistons ‘basketbrawl’ in Michigan,” says Alan Booth, Ph.D., a professor of sociology and human development at Penn State and the author of more than 100 scientific publications on hormones and human behavior.
- The even bigger scandal, to be sure, is the never-ending cat-and-mouse contest that pits athletes against authorities vested with keeping sports “clean” from the T analogs known as anabolic steroids.
- Revelations about hard-to-detect designer versions peddled by Victor Conte’s BALCO, in particular, implicated stars from Jason Giambi to Barry Bonds, triggered a probe by the International Olympic Committee into possible doping by legions of former medalists, and practically guaranteed that the asterisk will become the most-often-used punctuation mark in the record books of modern sports.
Testosterone As You Age Yet it’s the use of “legal” steroids, in what’s known as testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT), that remains most controversial. A review in the New England Journal of Medicine found a 500 percent increase since 1993 in prescription sales of testosterone replacements for all manner of hypogonadal men (those whose levels of T fall below the normal range of 270 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter, or ng/dl, of blood).
And even though many of these men suffer from hypogonadism because of a medical problem, such as the genetic disorder Klinefelter’s syndrome, the majority have low T due to a more common condition: advancing years. In the course of a man’s life, he will enjoy his highest average T levels somewhere in his early 20s.
By age 30, T slowly begins to fall back, with levels declining by about 1 percent per year. By age 70, most healthy men will have T levels less than the 270 ng/dl cutoff for hypogonadism. Just as menopausal women have relied on estrogen-replacement therapy for years, so too are more and more “andropausal” men turning to TRT.
- But while drug companies compete to meet the demand with a smorgasbord of T gels, pills, injections, skin patches, and even an experimental inhalable mist, there are those who believe that when it comes to hormonal tinkering, the law of unintended consequences should never be ignored.
- Men by and large stop fighting each other when they reach 30 or so,” says evolutionary biologist Randy Thornhill, Ph.D., Regent’s professor of biology at the University of New Mexico.
“It will be interesting to see, among other things, what the rates of intermale aggression are in older men who receive supplemental testosterone.” Notwithstanding the specter of fisticuffs at early-bird specials nationwide, the biggest concern is testosterone’s potential effect on prostate cancer, since the hormone may act like high-octane fuel for tumors, says Glenn Cunningham, M.D., a professor of medicine and molecular and cellular biology at Baylor College of Medicine.
As we age,” he explains, “there is a high prevalence of small prostate cancers in many men. Most of these never become clinically significant. But will giving supplements to men with low testosterone change the picture? We just don’t know now.” Halftime The Steelers’ performance in the first half proves, at best, dispiriting for us fans.
Granted, we are ahead 3-0, thanks to a field goal by Jeff Reed. But the paltry lead is primarily the result of numerous Jets penalties. If Ben’s and my T levels have miraculously risen, the only logical explanation is the Steelers’ defense. Late in the first half, Jets QB Chad Pennington led a drive from their 4-yard line to the Steelers’ 30.
Just when it seemed as if we couldn’t stop their advance, the Steelers’ 2004 team MVP, James Farrior, intercepted a Pennington pass, killing the threat. Such home-turf defensive stalwartness is not without its own hormonal overtones. In a study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior, British researchers found that members of a soccer team experienced much higher increases in T before home games than away games—and these rises were more prominent in the defensive players.
The highest increase of all was seen in the home team’s goaltender. As the Steelers prepare to receive the second-half kick, a trio of twentysomething guys who look like John Belushi triplets stand up behind us and begin cheering. They’re all so drunk that they resemble swaying daffodils.
- One takes his eye momentarily off his beer cup, allowing the contents to splash onto Ben and me.
- Another sways too far, loses his balance, and falls on a fan two rows down.
- He rights himself, then the three laugh and swear in unison.
- I’m just starting to glare at the biggest of these mofos when his angry, red eyes focus in on mine.
Almost immediately, and without a conscious decision to do so, I turn my eyes down. Who knows what effect such submission will have on my T levels? I’m stinking of spilled beer and disappointed in the pathetic play of the Steelers. But neither Ben nor I have yet been beaten to death by a drunk.
- In accordance with the experiment, we quickly spit more samples into fresh cryovials.
- T Time Though many lunkhead guys, including me, have long subscribed to a “high T good, low T bad” theory of optimum testosterone, researchers and endocrinologists alike (not to mention suspended basketbrawlers) are starting to understand that this is a major fallacy.
In a landmark study, Booth and his colleagues looked at the physical, emotional, and sexual well-being of nearly 4,400 men whose testosterone levels fell across the normal spectrum. They found that the healthiest men were more milquetoasts than mansters, with T levels in the lower midrange.
Conversely, men whose T bordered on 1,000 ng/dl endangered their lives more often. “It was a very mixed picture,” concedes Booth, who published the results in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine. “High testosterone was connected to a lot of risky behaviors: smoking, drinking, contracting STDs, getting into fights and accidents.
On the other hand, it also seemed to correlate with lower blood pressure and reduced occurrence of heart attacks.” (One theory is that high T reduces the arterial inflammation that can cause plaque to rupture.) Testosterone, it would seem, could save you from some forms of demise while increasing your risk of others: Heart attacks may prove less likely, but a knife in the heart during a barroom brawl, probably more so.
There are many other “win some, lose some” ramifications of high-normal testosterone. Mayo Clinic researchers recently reported that elevated levels appear to weaken a man’s immune function, most likely by impairing the action of his white blood cells. On the plus side, the Mayo researchers speculate, this may explain why men are less prone to autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, than are women.
In terms of mood disorders, high-normal testosterone raises the risk of depression—an effect it shares, ironically, with low-normal T. (The mechanisms, however, are different: High-T men tend to indulge in behaviors, such as parole violations, that are rife with depressing consequences.
Low-T men seem to produce less mood-enhancing serotonin, which requires testosterone as a building block.) Better by far, it now appears, to wish for a hormonal ecology hovering around average but capable of a full range of expression-an adaptive T, if you will, capable of adjusting up or down by way of myriad feedback loops, depending on life’s shifting circumstances.
Anne Storey, Ph.D., a parental-behavior researcher at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, recently demonstrated how changing T levels appear to help men adapt to one of our most important life roles: being a father. In a study of men before and after the birth of a child, Storey and her colleagues found that average T levels decreased shortly after the infant’s arrival.
Based on what we know from the animal literature,” she says, “we think it drops as a way of focusing dads on nurturing behavior.” Even the hour-by-hour T changes associated with sports victories and losses may help us adjust to new roles—steering us ever-so-slightly toward cockiness or submission. “The higher testosterone seen in winners prepares them for the difficulties of being dominant,” Thornhill says.
“In losers, the lowering of testosterone gets them out of the fray and lets them wait for better social circumstances to try being dominant again.” One landmark study of 2,100 male air-force veterans shows adaptive T at work in another way. Over a decade, the veterans received at least four medical checkups, during which their T levels were measured and marital status noted.
Their T levels did not remain constant,” says Booth. “Instead, they fell and remained low with marriage, and they rose with divorce.” Having higher T before marriage, explains Douglas Granger, Ph.D., a behavioral endocrinologist at Pennsylvania State University, may give you the edge needed to attract a mate and compete for her affection.
But once you’ve won her, a little dip in T to smooth out your nature may be just what you need to keep her. Game Over I can almost feel my T dipping now, but it isn’t because I’m married. Mere seconds into the second half, the Steelers fumble the kickoff.
- Miraculously, we manage to recover it.
- Not so miraculously, our subsequent offensive performance remains wretched.
- With 7:04 left in the third quarter, the Jets slash and pass the ball downfield, in the process committing none of the penalties we’ve come to depend on.
- They tie the game 3-3 with a field goal.
“I don’t have a good feeling about this,” I tell Ben. “It’s starting to snow again,” he says. I suspect we’re both wondering the same thing: Are we and the Steelers alike going to be buried here? A little later, the lone Jets fan in our bilious corner of the stadium shouts, “Go, Curtis!” God only knows what this brass-balled fan’s testosterone levels must be—if I had a spare cryovial, I’d ask him for a spit sample.
Several plays later, Jets running back Curtis Martin, a player who actually grew up in Pittsburgh, breaks the 13,000-yard career rushing mark. Feigning bafflement at the seething enmity all around, the Jets fan says, “What? You guys don’t like Martin? He’s a hometown boy!” The biggest of the three Belushi look-alikes responds, “No, I hate him.
Because he plays for the Jets, you f-!” Just when it looks as if we’re destined to see more offensive fireworks here in the stands than down on the field, the Steelers’ own running game finally wakes up. Not long after the start of the fourth quarter, Jerome Bettis breaks the 13,000-yard milestone, too.
- Three plays later, the Bus fakes a run, then flips a 10-yard pass to Jerame Tuman, who catches it in the end zone.
- This well-designed trick play completely fools the Jets’ heretofore stalwart defense and gives the Steelers a 10-3 lead.
- Ben and I leap to our feet, high-fiving the drunken Belushi boys, hormonal delirium all around.
Only the lone Jets fan seems deflated. Like a woebegone Grinch, he looks as if his cojones shrank two sizes during this play. Bettis’s TD pass proves to be all we need to earn our 12th victory of the year. As an insurance coup de grâce, Bettis also runs in for a touchdown in the dwindling moments of the fourth quarter, giving the Steelers a final 17-6 victory.
When the clock expires, there’s a fair amount of jubilation all around us. Ben seems to share in this effortlessly, but I find myself having to force a smile. Truth is, I’m cold, tired, and feeling like we’ve been much more lucky than dominant today. What’s the Right Level? If average testosterone levels are the goal, then the question becomes how to attain—and maintain—this hormonal middle ground.
The first step is to determine whether your T needs to be dialed back or ratcheted up, and this requires either doing a spit test or having blood drawn for a “total testosterone” assay (the more accurate method, and the one most doctors use). Ideally, you want to have two assays performed between 8 and 10 a.m.
on consecutive days to ensure an accurate baseline T. As mentioned earlier, the normal range for testosterone is 270 to 1,000 ng/dl. If your assays indicate that your T level is lurking somewhere below 270 ng/dl, you may be silently suffering from hypogonadism. Much less likely is the opposite scenario: a T score that tops 1,000 ng/dl.
Outside of steroid abusers, overly high T is extremely rare and usually caused by certain forms of glandular cancer, says Granger. It’s virtually always diagnosed because of other symptoms. But what if you’re one of those sub-1,000, high-normal men, the guy who doesn’t have heart attacks but gives them with his daredevil driving and other wild-child behaviors? As unhealthy as high-normal? T behaviors can be, doctors don’t consider these enough of a risk to require heavy-duty T-lowering drug, such as a low dose of Depo-Provera, the synthetic hormone used by women as an injectable contraceptive.
- Not that high-T bad boys lack any options for hormonal moderation.
- Two of the best of these—marriage and higher education—fall under the general rubric of becoming civilized.
- In terms of the ties that bind, researchers have long noted that married men not only are healthier but also live significantly longer than single men—a fact that is almost certainly related, among other factors, to changes in a guy’s testosterone-mediated wilding.
In a paper presented in Washington, D.C., last summer by researchers with the Alfred P. Sloan Center for Parents, Children and Work, the authors noted that unmarried men drink nearly twice as much alcohol as their married peers. They’re also more likely to drink and drive, get in fights, and take the kinds of risks that can lead to assorted mayhem.
- Marriage,” the authors note, “tends to discourage these unhealthy behaviors.” For those reluctant to tie the knot immediately, take heart: Even tentative steps in this general direction can bring benefits.
- The researchers found that men who are headed for the altar begin cutting down on their boozing a full year before the ceremony.
With regard to higher education, a study of 4,462 veterans by James M. Dabbs, Ph.D., of Georgia State University, did link higher T levels to a panoply of problem behaviors. However, when he factored in the veterans’ educational achievement levels, he found that the longer the men with high T stayed in school, the less likely they were to create chaos in their lives.
- In a follow-up study of 400 college students, Dabbs found that high T had no relationship to the risk of delinquency or personality problems.
- Men with low-normal T have more ways to tweak their testosterone, especially if they’re willing to challenge commonly held assumptions about what constitutes a “healthy” lifestyle.
For example, despite the antifat message we’re bombarded with, it turns out that diets too low in dietary fat are actually harmful to healthy T levels. “Our studies show that limiting fat to only 10 percent or less of your total calories can significantly reduce your testosterone levels,” says William Kraemer, Ph.D., a kinesiology researcher at the University of Connecticut’s human-performance laboratory.
In fact, many of the classic dietary commandments—restrict your overall calories, eat a lot of roughage, avoid animal flesh—are a virtual recipe for lowering T. “We’ve observed a direct relationship between caloric intake and testosterone level,” says David Cumming, M.D., a researcher in reproductive physiology and exercise at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
“Perhaps the ideal diet to drop your testosterone is high fiber and vegetarianism—and the ideal way to raise it is the red-meat approach.” Maintain Your T-Levels Note that this is not an endorsement for Atkins or any of the other carbophobic fad diets, but, rather, it’s an admonition to avoid going to nutritional extremes.
To that end, keep your consumption of calories from fat-preferably in the form of monounsaturates and omega-3s—up around 35 to 40 percent, the amount research shows to be optimal for robust T levels. Also, aim to derive at least 35 percent of your calories from protein, with much of it from lean red meat, Dr.
Cumming suggests; Dutch research shows that athletes had higher testosterone levels when eating meat-based protein, compared with other sources, such as dairy and eggs. (As for the recent Journal of the American Medical Association study linking red meat to an increased risk of colon cancer, the researchers didn’t differentiate between flank steak and fast-food burgers, which means saturated fat, not meat per se, may be the key.) Another stay-healthy strategy that can undermine your T is intense exercise.
- If you’re a hard-core runner, swimmer, cyclist, or the like, you may well be suffering from mild to moderate “gonadopause”—the male equivalent of female athletes’ failure to menstruate during periods of heavy workouts.
- In a study of men who run 80 miles or more per week, Dr.
- Cumming found significantly lower-than-average testosterone levels—in the bottom 20 percent of the normal range.
The study indicates that this drop was related not to any type of impaired testicular production, but rather to a decrease in the pituitary gland’s ability to signal the testicles to make testosterone. “The signals in high-mileage runners were less frequent and less concentrated,” says Dr.
Cumming. It probably doesn’t take an Olympic-style effort to begin seeing a suppressive effect on T. Another study, says Kraemer, found that men can reduce their testosterone by running as little as 30 miles a week. Fortunately, he adds, aerobic enthusiasts can keep training for endurance without sacrificing testosterone.
How to naturally increase testosterone with exercise (types of exercise, reps, rest period, etc.)
“They just need to incorporate a supplemental weight-training program into their regimens,” he says. That’s because weight lifting sets the stage for T to act as a muscle builder—almost as if you were injecting yourself with a natural, healthy dose of steroids.
It’s a very complicated story,” Kraemer says, “but it appears that you need enough force and a high enough volume of work for testosterone to signal your body to build more protein during the postexercise recovery phase. Aerobic exercise won’t do this. If you do just a few reps of weight lifting, that’s probably not enough, either.
In order to really trigger protein production, you need to do a multiexercise, multiset program that works a large amount of muscle mass.” Kraemer’s prescription: three sets of at least eight exercises, targeting all the major muscle groups. Focus on squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and seated rows to stimulate the most muscle tissue.
As time allows, add smaller-muscle-group exercises, such as leg curls, calf raises, shoulder presses, abdominal work, and arm curls. In 2- to 3-week cycles, vary your weight load relative to the number of repetitions; i.e., train with a lot of weight for a few weeks (four sets of three to five reps), then do more repetitions with less weight (one set of 12 to 15 reps per exercise).
Rest is also important, as overtraining causes the body to reduce testosterone output. Aim to rest 24 hours or so between workouts. Still, nothing you lift in the gym or order at a restaurant will help your testosterone levels if you down too much booze.
“Chemicals like alcohol wreak havoc with a man’s sexual-response cycle,” says Dr. Spark. Alcohol does this in many ways, including by inhibiting T production in the testes themselves. In a study by the department of medicine of the New York Medical College, andrologists gave moderate amounts of alcohol-just one glass of wine or beer per day—to male volunteers with normal T.
In only 4 weeks, this resulted in measurable reductions in the testosterone secreted from the testicles-and in a concurrent reduction of testosterone in the blood. If a month of light drinking can cause a detectable dip, think about the nosedive your testosterone would take if you were to really tie one on.
So when you decide to imbibe, try to at least set a two-drink limit. You’ll help conserve the commodity your twins worked so hard to create. Epilogue It’s 2 weeks after the game, and our faxed results are finally in. To my unschooled eyes, Ben and I have both spit a confusing jumble of T readings, as measured in picograms per milliliter (this, not nanograms per deciliter, is the unit used for saliva samples).
My own readings range from a high of 163.81 pg/ml, recorded during Sunday’s breakfast, to a low of 46.87, at kickoff time. Ben’s scores prove less extreme but more consistent—a high of 133.30 upon first waking and a low of 73.45 at lunch. I fear our respective meandering hodgepodges of numbers suggest that the Steelers have had, at best, random influences on our hormones.
But where I see a muddle, the infinitely better-informed salivary-testosterone expert Douglas Granger spies undeniable patterns that prove just how exquisitely reactive T is to shifting social and competitive circumstances. In Ben, at least, the changes are textbook. Granger begins his overall assessment by first assuring us that we’re both robustly normal.
“You have to realize,” he explains, putting our numbers in a grander context, “that it’s typical to see dramatic changes in testosterone over the course of an average day. All men, for instance, show a dramatic drop from awakening to lunchtime.” The question thus becomes, how much do events like the Steelers game cause the normal curve to shift from its usual course? In Ben’s case, his T clearly leaped out of the expected groove and followed a pattern typical of a die-hard fan on a day of victory.
- Ben awoke, as usual, with high T, and though it dropped somewhat by lunchtime, the decline was much less than expected for an average day.
- It looks,” says Granger, “like he was getting himself pumped up psychologically throughout the morning hours.” Such psyching continued throughout the afternoon, until, by kickoff time at 4:05, his T had crested again—evidence of strong anticipation of an ass-whuppin’ triumph to come.
By halftime, however, the Steelers’ less-than-stellar first-half play had proved disappointing enough to trigger a modest dip. But when the offensive renaissance late in the game finally assured the Steelers a victory, Ben’s T enjoyed a similar resurrection.
- My own pattern, alas, did not follow the same Hollywood script.
- Like Ben, I had a morning peak, but my T proceeded to plummet a whopping 57 percent by lunch.
- The free fall continued all afternoon, my level declining another 34 percent by kickoff.
- It remained flatlined there for the rest of the day-almost as if my testicles never got the message that the Steelers were playing.
Granger suggests a number of plausible reasons why my T levels fluctuated this way. Perhaps, he says, I’m not quite the rabid fan I thought I was. Or possibly my brain perceived the Steelers’ win as dumb luck, hardly worthy of hormonal celebration. Maybe I was influenced by that perceived threat from the belligerent, drunken Belushi who spilled his beer on us.
- In this scenario, my T response was less attuned to the vicarious fight on the field than to the potentially real one I hoped to avoid in the stands.
- The truth is,” Granger admits, “we don’t always know what’s going on with testosterone.” We might not always know, it’s true, but I’m confident that, on some level, our bodies do.
I’ve become, in short, a true believer in the essential wisdom of this compound. I’m convinced that, when operating as nature intended it, the tide of T within us all shapes our journeys through life—in my case, steering me thus far toward a happy marriage, a great family, enough financial success to keep me out of debtor’s prison, even the occasional athletic triumph of my own making. Jim Thornton is a National Magazine Award–winning health writer and champion masters swimmer.