So what is this Big T, anyway? Derived from cholesterol, testosterone is a steroid hormone—called an androgen—that causes the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. It's mainly secreted by the testicles in males, although the adrenal cortex and ovaries in females also secrete testosterone—though only about one-tenth the amount as in healthy males.
The testicles produce an enzyme called 11ßHSD-1 which protects your testosterone molecules from the effects cortisol. During times of prolonged stress and chronically elevated cortisol, there simply is too much cortisol for 11ßHSD-1 to handle. This results in testosterone molecules being destroyed inside the gonads before they even enter the bloodstream (8, 9).
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In addition to its role as a natural hormone, testosterone is used as a medication, for instance in the treatment of low testosterone levels in men and breast cancer in women. Since testosterone levels decrease as men age, testosterone is sometimes used in older men to counteract this deficiency. It is also used illicitly to enhance physique and performance, for instance in athletes.
Testosterone makes a contribution to nitric oxide formation. Nitric oxide, released from penile nerves stimulates guanylate cyclase which catalyzes the transformation of guanosine-5-triphosphate into 3′,5′-cyclic, guanosine monophosphate (cyclic GMP). Gyclic GMP causes vasodilatation and hence erection formation (Morelli et al 2005). The breakdown of cyclic GMP to GMP is mediated by the enzyme, phosphodiesterase type-5, the inhibitors of which (eg, sildenafil citrate) enhance erection formation and maintanence (Carson and Lue 2005).
Alcohol should be avoided when trying to increase testosterone levels. Healthy normal men, consuming reasonable amounts of alcoholic drink, experience a 20% drop in their serum levels of testosterone. In chronic alcoholics with extensive liver damage those levels can be reduced by as much as 50% and they can become feminized (loose facial and pubic hair, become impotent, and fat deposits behind the nipples that give the appearance of breasts).
If you’re a frequent reader here in AM, you already know that increased dietary fat intake is directly correlated with increased testosterone production. And not only that, but the types of fat that increase T seem to be saturated fats (SFAs) and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), while polyunsaturated (PUFAs) actually tend to lower testosterone (more here).
On the average, you need to sleep at least 8 hours per night to stay healthy. If you want a night sleep to contribute to the maximum testosterone production, it’s important to make your sleep comfortable. Thus, the bedroom temperature shouldn’t exceed 21°C. In addition, you should ventilate your bedroom thoroughly before sleeping. Furthermore, before going to bed, don’t overload your stomach with fatty foods, as well as don’t drink alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Finally, you have to avoid intense physical activity before bedtime.6
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This is natural amino acid and can boost testosterone levels. According to research, it increases the production of luteinizing hormone which triggers the production of testosterone from Leydig cells. It also helps in improving sperm quality and quantity. The men who take this have increased testosterone production which allows them to perform better in athletic activity. It helps to increase muscle mass and strength.
If a man's testosterone looks below the normal range, there is a good chance he could end up on hormone supplements—often indefinitely. "There is a bit of a testosterone trap," Dr. Pallais says. "Men get started on testosterone replacement and they feel better, but then it's hard to come off of it. On treatment, the body stops making testosterone. Men can often feel a big difference when they stop therapy because their body's testosterone production has not yet recovered."