Like other steroid hormones, testosterone is derived from cholesterol (see figure). The first step in the biosynthesis involves the oxidative cleavage of the side-chain of cholesterol by cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc, CYP11A1), a mitochondrial cytochrome P450 oxidase with the loss of six carbon atoms to give pregnenolone. In the next step, two additional carbon atoms are removed by the CYP17A1 (17α-hydroxylase/17,20-lyase) enzyme in the endoplasmic reticulum to yield a variety of C19 steroids. In addition, the 3β-hydroxyl group is oxidized by 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase to produce androstenedione. In the final and rate limiting step, the C17 keto group androstenedione is reduced by 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase to yield testosterone.
Unfortunately, in the modern world, stresses and emotional exhaustion lie in wait for men at every step. Nowadays, burnout is a constant state for many men. Of course, this causes great harm to the men’s health. Stresses drain of vitality and affect emotional state. Besides, they are also very dangerous for the nervous system. The nature is wise. And the body of a man who is not subject to stress can produce more testosterone.
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men, and it is responsible for the development of many of the physical characteristics that are considered typically male. Women also produce the hormone in much smaller amounts. Testosterone, part of a hormone class known as androgens, is produced by the testicles after stimulation by the pituitary gland, which is located near the base of the brain, and it sends signals to a male's testicles (or to a woman's ovaries) that spark feelings of sexual desire. (1)
In the hepatic 17-ketosteroid pathway of testosterone metabolism, testosterone is converted in the liver by 5α-reductase and 5β-reductase into 5α-DHT and the inactive 5β-DHT, respectively. Then, 5α-DHT and 5β-DHT are converted by 3α-HSD into 3α-androstanediol and 3α-etiocholanediol, respectively. Subsequently, 3α-androstanediol and 3α-etiocholanediol are converted by 17β-HSD into androsterone and etiocholanolone, which is followed by their conjugation and excretion. 3β-Androstanediol and 3β-etiocholanediol can also be formed in this pathway when 5α-DHT and 5β-DHT are acted upon by 3β-HSD instead of 3α-HSD, respectively, and they can then be transformed into epiandrosterone and epietiocholanolone, respectively. A small portion of approximately 3% of testosterone is reversibly converted in the liver into androstenedione by 17β-HSD.
There have been case reports of development of prostate cancer in patients during treatment with testosterone, including one case series of twenty patients (Gaylis et al 2005). It is not known whether this reflects an increase in incidence, as prostate cancer is very common and because the monitoring for cancer in patients treated with testosterone is greater. Randomized controlled trials of testosterone treatment have found a low incidence of prostate cancer and they do not provide evidence of a link between testosterone treatment and the development of prostate cancer (Rhoden and Morgentaler 2004). More large scale clinical trials of longer durations of testosterone replacement are required to confirm that testosterone treatment does not cause prostate cancer. Overall, it is not known whether testosterone treatment of aging males with hypogonadism increases the risk of prostate cancer, but monitoring for the condition is clearly vital. This should take the form of PSA blood test and rectal examination every three months for the first year of treatment and yearly thereafter (Nieschlag et al 2005). Age adjusted PSA reference ranges should be used to identify men who require further assessment. The concept of PSA velocity is also important and refers to the rate of increase in PSA per year. Patients with abnormal rectal examination suggestive of prostate cancer, PSA above the age specific reference range or a PSA velocity greater than 0.75 ng/ml/yr should be referred to a urologist for consideration of prostate biopsy.
Xenoestrogen is a chemical that imitates estrogen in the human body. When men are exposed to too much of this estrogen-imitating chemical, T levels drop significantly. The problem is xenoestrogen is freaking everywhere — plastics, shampoos, gasoline, cows, toothpaste. You name it and chances are there are xenoestrogen in it. The ubiquitous nature of this chemical in our modern world is one reason some endocrinologists believe that testosterone levels are lower in men today than in decades past. It’s also a reason doctors say the number of boys born with hypospadias — a birth defect in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis and not at the tip — has doubled. Note to expecting parents: make sure mom stays away from xenoestrogens during the pregnancy.
You should also know that a lot of people are deficient in Vitamin D. In the USA & many other western regions in the world, vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions. The best way to increase your D levels is sun exposure. You only need 20-30 minutes of exposure to a large amount of skin (i.e., take your shirt off and go for a walk during the day).
In fact, high cortisol deals a crushing blow to testosterone in two ways. During, long-lasting stress, high amounts of cortisol release very often and have a direct negative influence on T levels. Thus, cortisol inhibits testosterone synthesis in the testes and hypothalamus. In addition, the production of cortisol is impossible without cholesterol. But testosterone synthesis also demands cholesterol. Since during stress cholesterol is first of all used for making cortisol, T levels simply plummet.
Ashwagandha is shown to be effective at reducing cortisol which in turn helps with testosterone production. There are also numerous studies showing the effects on improving testosterone in infertile men (ref 80). If you are using the Aggressive Strength product you don't need to supplement with ashwagandha as it's included in the test booster formula. Likewise if you're using Tian Chi (my daily herb drink).
"Some say it's just a part of aging, but that's a misconception," says Jason Hedges, MD, PhD, a urologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. A gradual decline in testosterone can't explain a near-total lack of interest in sex, for example. And for Hedges' patients who are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s and having erectile problems, other health problems may be a bigger issue than aging.