Testosterone Why You Need It: Benefits, Side Effects, Uses
As a man, you probably already know how important testosterone is for your health. If you have low testosterone it can cause all kinds of issues that a lot of men tend to ignore. I am sure there are younger men who suffer from low testosterone but older men are the ones with the most severe issues.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone found in both men and women. It is the primary sex hormone in men, however, women produce small amounts of testosterone in the ovaries.
The definition of testosterone is: A steroid hormone that stimulates sexual characteristics in men. Testosterone is produced in the testes (testicles).
Testosterone is responsible for sex drive and increasing muscle mass. Testosterone production begins to slow down when men reach their 30's. The most noticeable symptoms are poor sex drive and weight gain.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
- Poor sex drive
- Poor erection quality
- Weight gain
- Less body hair
- Lack of energy
- Mood swings
- Weakness and fatigue
The above symptoms are common on most men, but if you are into bodybuilding or lifting weights, lack of testosterone brings on a whole new meaning. If you don't have adequate amounts of testosterone you will struggle with building muscle.
The Average man will go see a doctor and ask about some sort of TRT replacement therapy others may go as far as taking anabolic steroids.
The Steroid Testosterone
Testosterone forms part of a group of hormones known as androgens. Testosterone is considered a primary androgen hormone. Most anabolic steroids that are produced are in some form or another a derivative of testosterone.
Testosterone is responsible for prostate and testicle development, even on its own, it is a very potent hormone. Ask any bodybuilder what the most important sports enhancing drug there is and most will say testosterone. Yes, there are other steroids that are stronger, but testosterone remains a staple among bodybuilders.
Testosterone is produced like all steroidal hormones, it is a derivative of cholesterol, it is regulated by luteinizing hormone, the one thing most do not realize is the only way testosterone is released is by stimulating the pituitary gland.
When the pituitary gland is stimulated it releases both luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormones, this causes natural testosterone production within the body.
For proper testosterone production to happen within your body the testicles and pituitary gland perform an equal role in producing the hormone.
The History of Testosterone
Most of us give little thought about testosterone, what we do know is that our body produces it so we don't think much about chemical testosterone until we experience a testosterone deficiency.
Synthetic testosterone was developed by chemists Leopold Ruzicka and Adolf Butenandt
Synthetic testosterone made for humans was introduced in 1935 by Nobel prize chemists Leopold Ruzicka and Adolf Butenandt. The first injectable testosterone was available as Testosterone Propionate.
After the first batches of synthetic testosterone were introduced, many other variants would become available for human use. It is true there are different kinds of synthetic testosterone sold and for the most part, all chemical testosterone is very much the same. What makes testosterone-based steroids different is the ester that is attached.
The attached ester is responsible for the time release and duration (half-life) of the steroid.
The most common use of testosterone today is for the purpose of testosterone replacement therapy. The second biggest users are athletes and bodybuilders.
Older men in their 40's will seek TRT therapy to help restore hormone levels to within normal ranges. Bodybuilders and athletes are looking for a way to increase testosterone way beyond normal ranges to enhance performance and gain strength and muscle mass.
Benefits of Testosterone
Men take testosterone in varying doses for different reasons, the average middle-aged man who suffers from low testosterone will inquire about testosterone replacement therapy, this is usually because he is experiencing many of the common symptoms of low T.
Bodybuilders take testosterone in order to boost testosterone levels beyond normal ranges to increase muscle.
Testosterone is used to enhance athletic performance, boosting testosterone levels helps the muscle recover fast, fast recovery means that bodybuilders can train more frequently.
Testosterone prevents body fat. Testosterone works as a strong anti-catabolic hormone, this protects the muscle from excess fat accumulation.
One of the main benefits of testosterone is its ability to increase red blood cell count. Increasing the number of red blood cells improves the flow of oxygen throughout the body which allows athletes to train with more intensity and reduce muscle fatigue.
increasing testosterone has an impact on boosting both nitrogen production and protein synthesis, this makes it easier to gain new muscle tissue.
Kinds of Testosterone
Most people think that only one kind of testosterone exists, but there are many forms of testosterone. There are also many application methods. Common TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) is administered by injection, transdermal patches, gels and oral tablets. However, the most effective way to administer testosterone is by injection.
While there are over a dozen kinds of testosterone there are only five worth knowing about and those are the following:
- Sustanon -250
- Testosterone Propionate
- Testosterone Cypionate
- Testosterone Enanthate
Sustanon-250 is a combination of four different kinds testosterones in one single formula. What makes Sustanon-250 popular is the fact it is a slow releasing form of testosterone.
The composition of Sustanon-250 include:
- Testosterone Decanoate 30mg
- Testosterone Isocaproate 60mg
- Testosterone Phenylpropionate 60mg
- Testosterone propionate 30mg
Sustanon-250 is used in TRT therapy and its slow release formula can be administered several weeks apart, this is enough to keep testosterone levels within normal ranges. Bodybuilders, however, will choose to use the steroid often (every 3-4) days to maintain testosterone levels beyond normal ranges for the benefit of gaining muscle.
Testosterone Propionate is one of the most popular and also known as the original testosterone substance, it contains a fast-acting ester attached to the propionate ester. Testosterone Propionate contains a half-life of just 48 hours and remains one of the more popular steroids among bodybuilders.
Testosterone Cypionate is almost identical to testosterone enanthate, a slow-acting testosterone that contains a slow-acting ester that contains a half-life of 24 hours.
Testosterone Enanthate is pure testosterone with a slow-acting ester. Testosterone-enanthate has a half-life of about 15 days. Because of its long duration, Testosterone Enanthate can be injected every two weeks making it commonly prescribed by doctors to treat symptoms of Low T in older men. However, bodybuilders will find it necessary to inject 2 times a week to maintain testosterone levels way beyond normal.
Due to Testosteroneone Enanthates popularity, it is sold by many different pharmaceutical companies. Testosterone Enanthate can be found under the following brand names
- Testoviron Depot
Testosterone Side Effects
The side effects of taking testosterone will vary from person to person. Most men seeking to restore testosterone levels will receive a prescription from their doctor and since these doses are relatively low, most will not experience side effects. However, some men may experience the following:
- Prolonged erections
- Skin rash
- Male pattern baldness
- Water retention
- Shortness of breath
Bodybuilders and athletes who take higher doses to help improve athletic performance and increase muscle mass may suffer more severe symptoms that may include:
- Water retention
- Gynecomastia (Man Boobs)
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Testicular atrophy
- Oily skin
Of all the side effects mentioned above the one that is sure to happen is testicular atrophy. If you use any kind of exogenous testosterone your balls will shrink.
The testicles are responsible for making testosterone, the moment you begin to take synthetic testosterone you are telling your body that it no longer needs to produce testosterone. If you stop taking testosterone, your body will begin to produce testosterone and your testicles should return back to normal size.
What is considered normal testosterone levels?
Ranges in testosterone will vary with age, that range is between 300 ng/DL -1200 ng/DL. Testosterone levels in young adult men 18-20 will range between 300-1200 ng/DL the average adult male range is between 270-1070 ng/DL, that will begin to decrease as men get older.
Testosterone levels below 300 ng/DL are considered low.
Doses of testosterone will vary, the average man suffering from symptoms of Low T should consult with his physician before beginning any kind of treatment. The dose will vary according to current testosterone levels. On average, men are prescribed anywhere between 25-100mg per week. A blood test is usually recommended after a couple of weeks to monitor initial levels.
For bodybuilders, these doses are much higher. Bodybuilders use testosterone to improve performance and gain muscle. For bodybuilders, a dose of 200-300mg per week can offer significant benefits that will be noticed immediately.
Most bodybuilders will take very high doses of testosterone ranging between 500-1000mg per week. In rare cases, some will take up to 1500mg per week.
What men should consider is that there is a reward to risk threshold when taking testosterone. The rewards are incredible gains however long-term doses can cause a variety of side effects.
Natural Testosterone Boosters
It is normal for testosterone levels to decrease as men get older. In most situations, there is no need for concern. Lower testosterone levels can be annoying but manageable.
Unless you are someone who suffers from some sort of chronic illness such as Diabetes, kidney disease or hypertension low testosterone can be easily treated. In most cases, vitamin supplements can help restore testosterone levels back to normal.
Most testosterone boosters claim to help increase testosterone but very few of them work. If you do choose to take a supplement you should look for one that contains Vitamin D3, Zinc, and Magnesium. Let's take a look at the benefits each one offers.
Vitamin D3 can help increase levels of estradiol and helps increase sex hormone levels. It is also for increasing sperm count and quality. A one year study observed 65 men, half of the group took a daily dose of Vitamin D (3,300 IU). During the study, the group taking Vitamin D saw 20% increase in testosterone.
Zinc acts as an aphrodisiac and is essential mineral studies have shown that men who take a minimum of 30mg of zinc every day experienced an increase of testosterone. Zinc can help boost the immune system and speed up muscle recovery.
Magnesium is very similar to Zinc. Men whoa re deficient in Magnesium experience symptoms of low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. Magnesium is responsible for the metabolism of nitric oxide to help prevent issues of ED and increase free testosterone levels.
There are many testosterone boosters that contain generous amounts of the minerals mentioned above. Many contain additional ingredients such as D-Aspartic Acid and Vitamin K1.
Who Should Take Testosterone
Not just anyone should begin shooting up testosterone. Pro athletes use it to maintain a competitive edge. Most men and causal bodybuilders do not require extreme amounts of testosterone, in fact, just working out can raise testosterone levels.
Profesional bodybuilders are some of the biggest consumers of testosterone, many take it along with other anabolic steroids to help improve athletic performance. Taking testosterone without medical guidance is risky. Most pro bodybuilders hire experienced trainers and doctors to monitor progress while taking steroids.
If you are an older man and feel you suffer from symptoms of Low T a simple blood test can show if you suffer from Low T, if levels are extremely low your doctor can offer several treatment options to help restore those levels.
What I will point out is that even doctor prescribed TRT ( testosterone replacement therapy) can have risks. Every man should weigh the pros and cons before beginning any sort of TRT therapy.
Men of all ages need testosterone to maintain proper health. Maintaining normal levels has many advantages, too much or too little testosterone can have adverse side effects.
If you feel you are suffering from low testosterone there is no need to be alarmed. In most cases its due to age or poor nutrition. This is something that can be easily remedied by taking a dietary supplement of natural testosterone booster.