With the decline of ovarian function in menopause, not only do estrogen levels decline, but so does testosterone availability, since the ovaries contribute, either by direct secretion or through precursor production, about 50 percent of circulating testosterone. The other 50 percent is supplied by the adrenal glands. Many post-menopausal or oophorectomized women are symptomatic as a consequence of reduced testosterone, the leading symptom being loss of libido (Sherwin and Gelfand 1987; Simon et al 2005). There is an increasing trend toward testosterone supplementation in these women. Such supplementation may also lead, not only to increased libido, but to increased bone mineral density and an improvement in general overall sense of well-being including energy, strength, motivation and mood (Davis et al 1995; Davis et al 2000).
Testosterone was first used as a clinical drug as early as 1937, but with little understanding of its mechanisms. The hormone is now widely prescribed to men whose bodies naturally produce low levels. But the levels at which testosterone deficiency become medically relevant still aren’t well understood. Normal testosterone production varies widely in men, so it’s difficult to know what levels have medical significance. The hormone’s mechanisms of action are also unclear.
Using steroids eventually trains your body to realize that it doesn’t have to produce as much testosterone to reach its equilibrium, so to reach the same highs you’ll need to take more steroids, and when you stop taking them, your body will need to readjust — you’ll be living with low testosterone for a while (and you’ll need to see a doctor if your body doesn’t readjust on its own). Forcing your body to stay above your natural testosterone, even if you’re naturally low, can create this kind of dependency which ultimately decreases the amount of testosterone your body will produce on its own.
Hooper, D. R., Kraemer, W. J., Saenz, C., Schill, K. E., Focht, B. C., Volek, J. S. … Maresh, C. M. (2017, July). The presence of symptoms of testosterone deficiency in the exercise-hypogonadal male condition and the role of nutrition [Abstract]. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 117(7), 1349–1357. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28470410
Most Americans today are sleep deprived, which may be a contributing factor to declining testosterone levels in men. See, our body makes nearly all the testosterone it needs for the day while we’re sleeping. That increased level of T that we experience at night is one of the reasons we wake up with “Morning Wood.” (If you don’t have Morning Wood on a consistent basis, you might have low T).
Free testosterone (T) is transported into the cytoplasm of target tissue cells, where it can bind to the androgen receptor, or can be reduced to 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the cytoplasmic enzyme 5α-reductase. DHT binds to the same androgen receptor even more strongly than testosterone, so that its androgenic potency is about 5 times that of T. The T-receptor or DHT-receptor complex undergoes a structural change that allows it to move into the cell nucleus and bind directly to specific nucleotide sequences of the chromosomal DNA. The areas of binding are called hormone response elements (HREs), and influence transcriptional activity of certain genes, producing the androgen effects.
In addition to weightlifting, studies have shown that HIIT workouts can also help boost testosterone levels. For those of you who don’t know, HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It calls for short, intense bursts of exercise, followed by a less-intense recovery period. You repeat with the intense/less-intense cycle several times throughout the workout. In addition to increasing T, HIIT has been shown to improve athletic conditioning and fat metabolism, as well as increase muscle strength.
I know the experiment didn’t simply bring me back to my pre-August levels because of the fact that when I learned that the original test I took can sometimes overestimate your T levels, I took a more accurate test around four months after the start of the experiment (I’ve continued the lifestyle changes made during the experiment) and my total T had gone up again to 826.9 ng/dL.
Among the changes which occur with aging are those that affect several aspects of the endocrine system which reduces its secretions to varying degrees in different individuals. These reductions in secretions are identified by a poor but widely recognized appellation, the “pauses”: menopause (decreased ovarian function), adrenopause (decreased adrenal function, especially with regard to dehydroepiandrosterone secretion), somatopause (decreased growth hormone production), andropause (decreased hypothalamic-pituitary testicular function with diminished testosterone availability and impaired spermatogenesis) (Lamberts 1997).
Hypogonadism is a disease in which the body is unable to produce normal amounts of testosterone due to a problem with the testicles or with the pituitary gland that controls the testicles. Testosterone replacement therapy can improve the signs and symptoms of low testosterone in these men. Doctors may prescribe testosterone as injections, pellets, patches or gels.