A testicular action was linked to circulating blood fractions – now understood to be a family of androgenic hormones – in the early work on castration and testicular transplantation in fowl by Arnold Adolph Berthold (1803–1861). Research on the action of testosterone received a brief boost in 1889, when the Harvard professor Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard (1817–1894), then in Paris, self-injected subcutaneously a "rejuvenating elixir" consisting of an extract of dog and guinea pig testicle. He reported in The Lancet that his vigor and feeling of well-being were markedly restored but the effects were transient, and Brown-Séquard's hopes for the compound were dashed. Suffering the ridicule of his colleagues, he abandoned his work on the mechanisms and effects of androgens in human beings.
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.
It doesn’t get more natural than getting a good night’s sleep. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that lack of sleep can greatly reduce a healthy young man’s testosterone levels. That effect is clear after only one week of reduced sleep. Testosterone levels were particularly low between 2 and 10 p.m. on sleep-restricted days. Study participants also reported a decreased sense of wellbeing as their blood testosterone levels dropped.
“I see people who've been doing things in the gym and they've never been told that it can shut off your own production and it can also irreversibly lower your sperm count,” says Roked. “These are all quite serious issues that even though they may be rare if it happened to you it would cause a big impact on your life, so I'd say it's always best to do things with a specialist, but also for anyone it's not a great idea to take things that aren't needed."
When you’re under stress (be it from lack of sleep, workplace stress, emotional stress, stress from a bad diet, overtraining etc.), your body releases cortisol. Cortisol blunts the effects of testosterone (47), which makes sense from an evolutionary point of view – if we were stressed as cavemen chances are it was a life or death situation – not running late to a meeting - in this state (i.e. running from a lion) the body wouldn’t care if you couldn’t get it up, there was more to worry about!
Among my favorite stress management tools is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a method similar to acupuncture but without the use of needles. EFT is known to eliminate negative behavior and instill a positive mentality. Always bear in mind that your emotional health is strongly linked to your physical health, and you have to pay attention to your negative feelings as much as you do to the foods you eat.
At the present time, it is suggested that androgen replacement should take the form of natural testosterone. Some of the effects of testosterone are mediated after conversion to estrogen or dihydrotestosterone by the enzymes aromatase and 5a-reductase enzymes respectively. Other effects occur independently of the traditional action of testosterone via the classical androgen receptor- for example, its action as a vasodilator via a cell membrane action as described previously. It is therefore important that the androgen used to treat hypogonadism is amenable to the action of these metabolizing enzymes and can also mediate the non-androgen receptor actions of testosterone. Use of natural testosterone ensures this and reduces the chance of non-testosterone mediated adverse effects. There are now a number of testosterone preparations which can meet these recommendations and the main factor in deciding between them is patient choice.
When females have a higher baseline level of testosterone, they have higher increases in sexual arousal levels but smaller increases in testosterone, indicating a ceiling effect on testosterone levels in females. Sexual thoughts also change the level of testosterone but not level of cortisol in the female body, and hormonal contraceptives may affect the variation in testosterone response to sexual thoughts.
Nearly 1 out of every 4 men over age 50 experience the pain of losing the ability to perform sexually as a result of erectile dysfunction (ED). Common causes of ED are atherosclerosis, diabetes, prescription drug use (namely high blood pressure, depression, and allergy drugs), and—you guessed it—low testosterone. Supplements that may help include the following:
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).
"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.