In the late 1990s, accomplished writer Andrew Sullivan saw his career take a nose dive. Sullivan, a gay man who contracted HIV, had low testosterone levels. Hormonally speaking, he was no longer a man.
He then began what we now call TRT – testosterone replacement therapy. Anyhow who follows politics knows that, when it comes to Sullivan and testosterone, “The rest his history.”
I read Sullivan’s insightful article on testosterone when it first came out – back when people used to read these things called “magazines.” Although the article is from 2000, it is even more relevant today, as testosterone levels are at record lows.
Sullivan describes a feeling I know well:
Because the testosterone is injected every two weeks, and it quickly leaves the bloodstream, I can actually feel its power on almost a daily basis. Within hours, and at most a day, I feel a deep surge of energy. It is less edgy than a double espresso, but just as powerful. My attention span shortens. In the two or three days after my shot, I find it harder to concentrate on writing and feel the need to exercise more. My wit is quicker, my mind faster, but my judgment is more impulsive. It is not unlike the kind of rush I get before talking in front of a large audience, or going on a first date, or getting on an airplane, but it suffuses me in a less abrupt and more consistent way. In a word, I feel braced. For what? It scarcely seems to matter.
I am not able to suffer fools because my testosterone levels have traditionally been high. I unilaterally delete moronic comments because stupidity infuriates me. This is only natural:
That was an extreme example, but other, milder ones come to mind: losing my temper in a petty argument; innumerable traffic confrontations; even the occasional slightly too prickly column or e-mail flame-out. No doubt my previous awareness of the mythology of testosterone had subtly primed me for these feelings of irritation and impatience. But when I place them in the larger context of my new testosterone-associated energy, and of what we know about what testosterone tends to do to people, then it seems plausible enough to ascribe some of this increased edginess and self-confidence to that biweekly encounter with a syringe full of manhood.
Long before anyone had thought to start a game blog, Sullivan had this to say about testosterone and mating:
But the picture, as most good evolutionary psychologists point out, is more complex than this. Men who are excessively testosteroned are not that attractive to most women. Although they have the genes that turn women on — strong jaws and pronounced cheekbones, for example, are correlated with high testosterone — they can also be precisely the unstable, highly sexed creatures that childbearing, stability-seeking women want to avoid. There are two ways, evolutionary psychologists hazard, that women have successfully squared this particular circle. One is to marry the sweet class nerd and have an affair with the college quarterback: that way you get the good genes, the good sex and the stable home. The other is to find a man with variable T levels, who can be both stable and nurturing when you want him to be and yet become a muscle-bound, bristly gladiator when the need arises. The latter strategy, as Emma Bovary realized, is sadly more easily said than done.
If you’ve wondered why game blogs and forums have gotten more catty and negative, it’s because men have the lowest testosterone in centuries. Today’s male has about half of the testosterone his grandfather had. Men with high testosterone don’t hate on everything and cry about life. Men with high testosterone feel like conquerers:
The behavioral traits associated with testosterone are largely the cliche-ridden ones you might expect. The Big T correlates with energy, self-confidence, competitiveness, tenacity, strength and sexual drive. When you talk to men in testosterone therapy, several themes recur. ”People talk about extremes,” one man in his late 30′s told me. ”But that’s not what testosterone does for me. It makes me think more clearly. It makes me think more positively. It’s my Saint Johnswort.” A man in his 20′s said: ”Usually, I cycle up the hill to my apartment in 12th gear. In the days after my shot, I ride it easily in 16th.” A 40-year-old executive who took testosterone for bodybuilding purposes told me: ”I walk into a business meeting now and I just exude self-confidence. I know there are lots of other reasons for this, but my company has just exploded since my treatment. I’m on a roll. I feel capable of almost anything.”
When you hear comments like these, it’s no big surprise that strutting peacocks with their extravagant tails and bright colors are supercharged with testosterone and that mousy little male sparrows aren’t. ”It turned my life around,” another man said. ”I felt stronger — and not just in a physical sense. It was a deep sense of being strong, almost spiritually strong.”
A large part of the decline is attributable to obesity:
Obese teenage boys are at risk for more than diabetes and heart disease, a new study has found. They also have alarmingly low levels of testosterone – between 40 to 50% less than males of the same age with a normal body mass index.
Fat is estrogenic. If you are fat, your testosterone level is lower than it should be.
Although there are dozens of testosterone boosters and other expensive products, the truth is that once you’re past 35, you can’t really raise your testosterone much taking an injection. Yes, Vitamin D and squats help. Avoiding plastics helps. Not wearing a burlap sack of fat around your torso helps.
Yet as Sullivan learned, boosting your testosterone to he-man levels requires “assistance.” According to official Nevada State Athletic Commission records, 42-year old Dan Henderson is on TRT:
If “lifestyle changes” were all we needed in order to boost testosterone, athletes would simply pop Vitamin D and not be fat.
An appropriate TRT protocol is something to discuss with one’s physician.
Don’t miss: Testosterone Replacement Therapy.