Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
22 Jun

A Primal Primer: Testosterone

If you’ve been reading recently you know I’ve been on a hormone kick recently. That sexy looking molecule to the right and the hormone du jour: testosterone. Testosterone is the principal anabolic and sex hormone in humans, responsible for sexual desire and function, muscular hypertrophy, densification of bones, and hair growth. Compared to females, males famously produce about ten times the amount of testosterone, but females are far more sensitive to its effects. Though testosterone is largely responsible for those traits and characteristics that are considered “masculine” – physical strength, body hair, dominance, and virility – both sexes require it for proper sexual and physical development. In mammals, males secrete it primarily from the testicles (about 95% of the total amount, in fact) and women secrete it from the ovaries. A modicum is produced in the adrenal glands in both sexes.

Testosterone plays an important role throughout every stage of a person’s life:

Prenatally, testosterone – along with dihydrotestosterone, a more potent anabolic hormone – is partly responsible for the formation of the male genitalia. It helps determine gender identity (with society bringing up the rear later in life, of course) and it spurs development of the prostate and seminal vesicles.

In early infancy, boys’ testosterone levels rise, almost to puberty levels, only to plummet at 4-6 months. We’re still not entirely sure what the rise means and what all that testosterone is doing, but it’s definitely doing something. One theory is that the brain is being “masculinized.”

Immediately prior to puberty, testosterone begins to rise in both boys and girls. Childhood is departing, replaced by budding pubic hair, the beginnings of body odor, growth spurts, oily hair and skin, and that ridiculous peach fuzz above the lips that every eleven year-old male tries to cultivate and claim as facial hair. Bones mature and the arm pits grow hair.


During puberty, testosterone enjoys a massive increase.  Most of you reading this probably recall those awkward, exciting change-filled times: new odors, inconvenient fluctuations in the functionality and appearance of certain organs, strange new outlooks on the opposite sex. Good times. Thanks, testosterone!


In adults, testosterone’s effects on growth and development have largely manifested and maintenance becomes its province. Libido is preserved for both men and women and erection strength and frequency are regulated by testosterone. Muscles resist wasting thanks to T (and even grow larger).

I would be remiss if I failed to mention testosterone’s chief antagonist: cortisol. Cortisol, as you know, is one of the stress, fight-or-flight hormones. It kept us alive and our wits about us under short-term life-or-death situations for much of our evolution. Unfortunately, when cortisol is constantly elevated – as it often is in the sleep-deprived and chronically-stressed – testosterone is muted. Cortisol is catabolic (breaks tissue down), while testosterone is anabolic. Excessive levels of cortisol produce insulin resistance, fat gain, and muscle wasting, while testosterone promotes muscular hypertrophy and lean mass gains. Cortisol contributes to metabolic syndrome, while testosterone helps alleviate it.

Ironically, serum testosterone status seems to predict the cortisol response of people faced with victory or defeat. High T men and women who “lost” released more cortisol, the stress hormone; when they “won,” less cortisol was released. Low T folks’ cortisol changes did not depend on winning or losing. I guess that’s a downside to high T levels, technically, but it’s to be expected. I’m reminded of the Jimmy Cliff classic, “The bigger they come, the harder they fall”.

Low serum concentrations of testosterone are also independently associated with higher mortality rates in men, even when you consider other risk factors and preexisting health conditions.

Testosterone is important in the formation of bones, as I mentioned earlier, but it’s also crucial for the maintenance of bone density, especially in the elderly.

Testosterone aids in protein synthesis, effectively helping rebuild muscle fibers with amino acids. It can preserve existing mass or build upon it, creating more.

So, testosterone is important, and even vital, if you want to build (and keep) strong bones and muscles, maintain a healthy, active sex life, and live long and well into old age – but how do we make sure we’re making enough?

In 1889, a Harvard University professor by the name of Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard injected himself with a “rejuvenating elixir” containing the extract of dog and guinea pig testicle, reporting increased vigor and feelings of well-being. Traditional Chinese herbalists would often prescribe dried tiger’s penis for impotence, and ancient Greek Olympians feasted on goat and lamb testicles to boost stamina and athletic performance. Clearly, even before testosterone was specifically identified, the ancients (and not-so-ancients) knew that the loins were involved in vigor, strength, and stamina.

Their (our) fixation on consumption of genitalia and genitalia extractions to correct deficiencies in strength, vigor, sexual stamina, and general “well-being” sounds intuitive, in a folksy, endearing sort of way. Does it make sense to eat bull testicles to restore one’s manhood and increase available testosterone?

Not really. Testosterone doesn’t pool up in one’s testicles. It’s not a static reservoir waiting in reserve to be disseminated throughout the body. It’s a hormone that the testicles (in men) and ovaries (in women) produce. That mouthful of fluid you got when biting into a roasted sheep’s testicle on your Greek vacation wasn’t pure, liquid testosterone – sorry. In order to get testosterone, you have to produce it (or inject it, but that’s an entirely different post) endogenously. And if you want to manipulate the amount of testosterone you have available, you can do it the same way you manipulate other hormones, like insulin, leptin, growth hormone, and cortisol. You tinker with your diet, your exercise, and your basic daily lifestyle.

Lift Heavy Things

Resistance training is a potent stimulant of testosterone production, so be sure to lift heavy things every now and again. If you want to tinker even further, messing around with rest intervals between sets can stimulate different hormonal responses. In one study, resting 90 seconds between squat and bench press sets boosted post-workout T levels the most, followed by rest periods of 120 seconds. Resting 60 seconds increased growth hormone the most and T the least.


In young men, a short six-second bout of sprinting increased serum total testosterone levels. Levels remained elevated during recovery. Interestingly, testosterone was also correlated with lactate levels in the blood. It would be even more interesting to know if any training that causes lactate levels to rise would also increase testosterone.

Avoid Excessive Cortisol

Since cortisol antagonizes and reduces free testosterone levels, and stress promotes the release of cortisol, avoiding stress becomes crucial for maintaining or boosting T levels. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, every night (which in and of itself increases testosterone levels). Avoid overtraining, especially in the Chronic Cardio arena, which may affect T levels and reproductive function. And be sure to take time to chill out and relax (read a book, go for a walk, play).

Get Sun, or Take Vitamin D Supplements

Vitamin D, already associated with bone and muscular strength, also positively correlates with testosterone levels in men. Back in February, the vitamin D/T link got a decent amount of media attention.

Eat Clean, Pastured Animal Products

Toxic substances called dioxins have been shown to interfere with the male reproductive system, including production of testosterone. While concentrated sources of dioxins include Agent Orange (which I’m sure you’re already avoiding), we obtain most of our dietary dioxins through conventionally-raised animal products, especially animal fats and dairy (dioxins accumulate in fat). If you’re going to be eating fatty cuts of meat or using dairy, try to go for pastured, grass-fed animals to reduce your exposure and lessen the negative impact on your testosterone levels.

Eat Saturated and Monounsaturated Fat

A low-fat, high-fiber diet reduced serum and free testosterone levels in middle-aged men. T usage wasn’t affected, but T production was reduced. Another look at male athletes found that both saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and cholesterol intakes were positively correlated with resting testosterone levels. PUFA intake was barely associated with increased levels.

Avoid Foods that Regularly Spike Your Blood Glucose Levels

Researchers found that 75 grams of pure glucose – and the resultant spike in blood sugar – was enough to drop testosterone levels by as much as 25% in a random grouping of healthy, prediabetic, and diabetic men. Now keep in mind how rapidly many SAD carb choices (pasta, cereal, bread, etc) convert to glucose upon digestion…

Get Adequate Zinc Intake

A zinc deficiency predicts lowered testosterone in men (eat your shellfish), but heroic supplementary doses of the mineral don’t boost T levels beyond normal in men with adequate dietary intake.

All in all, testosterone is an incredibly important hormone for health, longevity, and vitality – in both men and women. Leading a Primal life, free of excessive stress and peppered with smart, intense workouts, full of healthy animal fats and plenty of vitamin D, should be enough to promote adequate amounts of testosterone coursing through your veins. It may sound a bit redundant at times (advice: live Primal!), but what can you do when a common, uniting thread seems to run through almost every aspect of human health. It almost writes itself.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. First. Sorry. Had to.

    Matt wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • why?

      mike wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Would it be possible to have the moderators automatically remove the “first” comments that obviously add nothing to the comments section? I would also include responses to such comments (like this one) as it obviously adds nothing either.

      While I am sure the “first” posters’ mommies would be duly proud, that isn’t enough reason to allow them to continue junking up the comments here.

      I will not make this request again, or bother to reply to attention-seeking behavior. Sorry for wasting everyone’s time.

      Rodney wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • Uh oh! Comment section drama! Someone could use a little more testosterone…

        Ben wrote on June 23rd, 2010
        • LOL, You started it Ben!

          mike wrote on June 23rd, 2010
        • It’s true!!! What have I done!?!?

          Ben wrote on June 23rd, 2010
        • I totally agree. Totes mi-goats.

          Yes!! wrote on November 30th, 2011
  2. Men…
    All about men…typical.
    Why would mother nature just completely screw over females in every aspect of life?
    We are the ones life depends on…
    It doesn’t make any sense.

    Suvetar wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • “So, testosterone is important, and even vital, if you want to build (and keep) strong bones and muscles, maintain a healthy, active sex life, and live long and well into old age”

      That seems pretty inclusive to both genders to me :)

      Russ Hutto wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • So how do women exactly produce testosterone besides the ovaries?
        What if a woman had her ovaries taken out?
        How do these tribal women all over the world keep their bone density?
        Many of them don’t lift heavy things, they never sprint either. Like the tribes of the island of Tanna (saw that series on NatGeo)

        I am on a quest to figure out the best possible way to not have osteoporosis EVER. And this post about MEN and their high testosterone which is THE hormone to keep bone density isn’t helping much.

        Perhaps the RAW primal diet would be the answer…dead food (aka cooked) can’t replace live tissue.

        Suvetar wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • They don’t lift heavy things? Really? What about children? Or food?

          It’s not like women don’t have testosterone. They just don’t have as much as men.

          Macha wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • If you had read the article youd see that some is also made in the adrenal glands.

          Also, tribal women who live a more hunter gatherer lifestyle are almost sure to have a more active lifestyle than most westernized cultures, you just need the stimulus.

          Youll never catch a tribal person sitting down at leisure surfing the apple, i guarantee you that.

          Shawn wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • I don’t think you’re going to find many tribal women that are missing their ovaries.

          Many cultures, women are “beasts of burden” and lift heavy stuff all the time and I think chasing kids down counts for sprinting.

          Jonathan wrote on June 23rd, 2010
        • To avoid osteoporosis…

          Maintain healthy levels of estrogen, especially important after menopause.

          Stay active (avoid a sedentary lifestyle)

          Maintain healthy eating habits (avoid eating disorders)

          Get Vitamin D (sunlight is best) suplements help.

          Avoid alcohol in excess.

          Avoid hormone treatments.

          Keep a healthy body weight (not too heavy or light)

          Don’t smoke.

          Get plenty of calcium.

          Kary Golding wrote on February 19th, 2012
        • In the old days people would hunt for food. They also grew there own gardens minus all the cemicals. Also they worked and played hard. But most important with all that being said a good nights sleep is very important. Raw food is ok to eat but i must warn you animals have germs so if your going raw it must be a fresh kill. Stay away from all drugs unless your doctor gives it to you. Also make time for sex daily in the morning if applicable.

          Dr mike wrote on March 1st, 2012
        • It also notes that women are much more sensitive to testosterone, equalizing the playing field.

          Marcus Iralius wrote on May 13th, 2012
        • Yams will replace female harm one levels. So go to your local cafeteria and load up on yams(sweet potatoes). This Is good therapy to avoid bone loss in women. And effeminate men too(men who have hormone imbalance). There are lots of scientific studies that support this data.

          Ben wrote on June 22nd, 2012
        • Progesterone helps women’s bone density! Something to look into as well

          snowflowr82 wrote on July 2nd, 2015
      • testosterone increase when u are doing workout ,resting n eating healthy food .

        ambar aerobics wrote on June 19th, 2012
        • Yams reduce effeminacy in men??what on earth do you mean “Ben”?
          Utter hogwash……and why would people want to do that anyway.

          Bender wrote on September 2nd, 2012
    • Thats rubbish. Women depend on men if it wasn’t for men women would die out. We need each other. dont talk rubbish

      James wrote on June 30th, 2011
      • native women tend to gather morning wood. sex in the morning is very important to a woman’s health. swallowing in the evening also gives women all the necessary protein and hormones to maintain good bone density.

        native man wrote on April 26th, 2012
        • LOL. If I read it on the internet it must be true.

          Alvin Sr wrote on July 31st, 2012
        • Wow, how chauvanistic!! Funny though.
          As a native woman, I was like OH no, at first, as morning sex is something I don’t like to take part in too often.

          Eva wrote on September 9th, 2012
        • You must live on a different continent….
          All of the women I’ve known are NOT morning people. They are SLEEP people. If I wanted sex in the morning it better be after 10a.m. on a weekend….

          ROCK wrote on March 28th, 2013
    • “Mother”? nature. perhaps Father nature has been working under a sir name all these years…

      Dennis wrote on September 24th, 2011
      • Father Sun, Mother Nature. Equal partners in giving life to the human race.

        Mike wrote on September 5th, 2012
        • State the world is in its a pity either bothered with the human race
          at all

          david wrote on March 9th, 2014
    • Sexist much? Just apply everything it says on how to boost t levels. Just because you’re a women doesn’t mean you can’t eat these foods or lift heavy or any of that nature..
      I could complain about how most stores in the mall are “all about women.. typical.” But i find that there are places other than the mall to shop for men’s clothing of my personal interest.
      There are ways around everything. Remember that.

      Andrew wrote on July 20th, 2012
      • I have to say, I admire your response!

        Eva wrote on September 9th, 2012
    • what r u talking about? Just cuz men produce more testosterone? women are the givers of life..the care takers of the got to be more physically active to take care of his queen.if it weren’t for this mankind wouldn’t have evolved thus far.These days women want to be all they can be and i don’t argue with that but come on..we can’t bear children and women can’t produce testosterone.That might be why we come to an em pas in todays society.

      Norm wrote on September 13th, 2012
    • Your a stupid woman… With a cat’s brain.

      Jimmy John wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • I’m sorry, but to be honest, you’re hardly likely to find a man on an article about maintaining/increasing oestrogen levels complaining that it’s all about women…

      Ossian wrote on November 5th, 2012
    • The purpose of life to; surve and replicate. that’s it.

      You are required for replication.
      Men are required for survival.

      Amy wrote on January 22nd, 2013
    • Who is screwing you over? A number of times this article has mentioned how T is used in both the male and female bodies…..Stop being a victim.

      RB2 wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Although there are many health benefits to healthy testosterone levels (in both males and females), estrogen is also pretty amazing. One of the reasons why men are more likely than women to get dementia when they age is that estrogen has neuro-protective functions.

      Jamie wrote on March 8th, 2013
    • Of course it’s about men. The article’s demographic targeted men.
      2nd. Why do you think Mother Nature screwed you over? Are you doing your part? ARe you eating right, getting the proper amount of exercise and sleep?
      Yes, life depends on the female, but don’t forget it takes a sperm too. And don’t tell me a man can’t raise a child.
      Honey, life isn’t all about YOU.

      ROCK wrote on March 28th, 2013
    • False taking of credit…typical of all humans, male & female.

      Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3-5; 128:2-4; Deuteronomy 7:12-14), not the result of human behavior, although certain human behavior was designed to play a participatory role. Just an additional thought, have you ever seen a woman who could give birth without the existence of men or participation at some point by men (or what is provided through the life of men)?

      Life depends on God, not mankind, male and/or female. God’s creation is wonderful: Psalm 139:13-16 We are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

      And who said mankind is replete with making any sense. We spend more time trying to glorify ourselves, excuse ourselves and justify ourselves than trying to discover the truth and live by it.

      Daniel Doty wrote on April 2nd, 2013
    • So… if women are the ones that life depends on, then why do women even need men?
      Oh yeah!
      because it takes a man AND a woman to have a child. you’re obviously an idiot who got lost on her way to a feminist page.
      if you don’t wanna read an article about men, then DON’T.
      it’s an article for men so what do you expect.
      do you see guys going on page about keeping estrogen levels up and saying what you just said (except about women)
      Just, stfu and let people learn about their own body management

      Rodley wrote on June 7th, 2013
    • It makes perfect sense. This was Gods pox on women for eve picked the apple from .tree of life.

      fredflintstone wrote on February 9th, 2014
    • umm this is an article about testosterone- relax

      john wrote on January 17th, 2015
  3. So would a carb-refeed result in lowered testosterone levels for that day?

    Todd wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  4. You are the ones that life depends on….you’re exactly 50% of the equation, no more, no less.

    It’s pretty clear you did not read the article

    Spence wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Actually, females are more than 50%, if you’re counting the full equation. I’m just basing this on the fact that everyone has their mother’s mitochondrial DNA. You can’t make a person with just DNA. You need a cell with all the goodies in it. That comes from your mom. And then the 40 weeks following conception as well…

      Not to negate men’s contribution. It’s extremely important! I mean, it must be hard to hunt when you’re more than four month pregnant. So, maybe it is 50/50, depending on how you look at it!

      Caitlin wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • No, its 50/50 like was said. Youre fancy egg with its goodies isnt worth anything if it doesnt get fertilized. Who cares if there is more to an egg than sperm, if you could never exist without either? Its 50/50….period.

        The article was for both men and women, just as estrogen plays a role in men as well.

        Mark can you maybe do a post on Estrogen just to keep some of the more insecure women from going coocoo for coco puffs?

        As far as the bone density thing goes, if you eat a primal diet i doubt youll have to worry about it. Eating the way youre supposed to will let your body function the way its supposed to. I highly doubt that Osteoporosis was coded into 2 million years or so of evolution. Just like Diabetes and cancer werent either.

        Ever heard the phrase, “Its not how much you make but how much you keep.”, in regards to money?

        The same goes for calcium, its not that we dont get enough calcium in our diet, we dont get enough of the foods that allow us to KEEP our calcium. Most fo the foods that we are eating are reporting to our bodies as “acidic”, to counter this our body breaks down bone mass to release calcium salts to alkalize the blood closer to a more tolerable ph level.

        Eat right and there is no need for any of that to happen.

        Shawn wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • Thank you Shawn. That was a nicer version of what I would have said.

          Keith wrote on June 27th, 2011
        • If you look into it, females can reproduce without a male contribution. However they can only create female offspring. There is no male contribution in cloning. ….
          …. Just saying..

          Alvin Sr wrote on July 31st, 2012
        • There’s a reason men rule the world. The only reason women have a say in things in modern times is because men allow them to have a say. Men are naturally stronger, faster, smarter and more reasonable than women. You can’t disagree with this, this is why men and women compete separately in athletic activities, women just couldn’t keep up. It’s also the reason why men have always ruled the world.

          The only things men need women for are pleasure and procreation. Of course, it’s also nice to have them make you sammiches and clean up after you but as far as everything else goes, they’re pretty useless compared to men.

          This isn’t an opinion, it’s just facts. Sure, there are plenty of strong women who could beat the crap out of a weak man, but when you compare the strongest to the strongest, men always win in nearly anything.

          bayne wrote on August 17th, 2012
  5. Mark, what can we do nutrition or supplement wise to avoid excessive conversion of T in to estrogen and thus having lower free T? Thanks.

    Kishore wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Look into Chrysin cream. I found a chiropractic doctor, in California, how would prescribe it from Apex Energetix (I’m in PA). It is called Testanex. My Testosterone was measured at 48. With one month of using the chrysin cream, it measured 278. Chrysin inhibits an enzyme from breaking down the T. Keep in mind that it must be topical, not digested. Hope this helps. – Dan

      Dan wrote on February 16th, 2012
      • Dear Dan.
        Interesting information.How much cost this Chrysin cream?

        lorin wrote on December 16th, 2012
  6. Over a year ago, I found out that my 53-year-old female body was not producing testosterone. My muscles were wasting and I was gaining body fat – 46% at the highest. With no testosterone, we ladies will not be able to build muscle no matter how much weight we lift!

    I now have a testosterone pellet surgically implanted in my hip once every four months by my doctor. I am losing body fat and gaining muscle. Last summer, thanks to T, I gained 7 pounds of muscle in just four months!

    RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Not to mention that with no T, there is NO libido!

      RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • yes and with no estrogen, there is no libido either! fascinating! estrogen is awesome for males! As testosterone is for females.

        Avishek Saha wrote on June 1st, 2012
    • Awesome, really nice that it has helped you a lot.

      I used a natural testosterone booster to fight my declining testosterone product ( I am a 42 year old male)
      I Testoturbo by a company called explicit nutrition it helped me a lot.

      Oliver wrote on October 19th, 2012
  7. Just another reason to go primal – it boosts your sex drive!!

    I could come up with 1000 reasons why someone should go primal. Well, on that thought I will get started actually. :)

    Primal Toad wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  8. Mark, these last few posts have been amazing! Thanks for investing your time and effort in creating posts like this. Pure Gold!

    lovestoclimb wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  9. Mark-

    I’ve also read in the past that alcohol consumption decreases testosterone levels. Any recent research to indicate this is the same or to indicate how much alcohol decreases testosterone?

    Jeff wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  10. You did not mention it, but being in a dangerous place can up your Test levels.

    For example, males in jail often have higher test levels than non-criminal people.

    Jean-Patrick wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • That’s interesting. I would think it would be the opposite — that being in the midst of danger would up your cortisol level as “fight or flight” kicks in…

      kctex wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • Well, I may be wrong, but I believe cortisol kicks in when you are in the face of immediate danger. In a dangerous environment, high t levels seems to be important. It ensure you keep your enemies away. Ever noticed how most of the guys in jail are muscular? It makes you look and feel good.

        Then again, that is what I read. May be Mark can shed some light on that.

        Jean-Patrick wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • The fight-or-flight response does lead to a temporary increase in physical performance, but being stuck in the sympathetic nervous state burns out the adrenals and throws off the entire endocrine cascade, and thus sabotages the body’s ability to regulate testosterone (as well as causing systemic inflammation, leading to dangerously high or low immune responses, etc.)

          Sean Donahue wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • I think that is true for men who are confident and don’t stress easily , or repeat jailbirds who basically know what to expect in jail.

          Alvin Sr wrote on July 31st, 2012
        • I could be wrong, but i think you have it backwards. Men don’t get a higher testosterone level because they’re in jail, but rather, men END UP in jail due to the behavioral effects of having or gaining a high testosterone level (ie. increased aggresion)
          I’ve done a little research myself, and if you want to be kinda steriotypical you could say that the trade-off for the physical health and performance offered by having a high T level is developing a bad personality or personality traits. To be fair though, studies on this particular subject should be taken with a grain of salt, as research methods in this area are limited and rather unreliable.
          Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if a population that experiences increased aggression would also see increased crime rates, testosterone related or not.

          For Alvin Sr’s comment on July 31st, 2012 (which doesn’t seem to have a reply button) I must continue to say:

          Men producing more testosterone are more likely to engage in extramarital sex, but marriage/romance is a different story, as falling in love decreases men’s testosterone levels, thus reducing the chance of male infidelity. However, it is suggested that T levels return to what they were before entering the relationship after the “honeymoon phase” (1-3 years) ends.

          On a side note relating to marriage/romance, while falling in love reduces them in men, it actually increases T levels in women, supposedly to sort-of syncronize the T levels (and thus behavior) of the two. (ie. men: high to medium – women: low to medium)

          note: pretty much all of this is off of wiki, so again, I could be wrong.

          Forest wrote on May 22nd, 2013
      • Excess Test can also lead to violent behavior and agresive tendencies. You could make the argument that those men were too high to begin with.

        mike wrote on June 23rd, 2010
        • Only if you’re predisposed to violent behavior. That’s like saying high levels of T promotes infidelity

          Alvin Sr wrote on July 31st, 2012
  11. @Kishore- to avoid excessive conversion of T to E, you must use aromatase inhibitors. Natural supplements would be high doses of Resveratrol (think red wine) (min 300mg/serving) and even Green Tea. Chemicaly, you would hav to get into things like Arimidex, but that’s last resort. Check out the research articles on (no affiliation for me, just good info)

    @Jeff- alcohol has estrogen-like effects on the body. I don’t have any stats/research, but what does estrogen do to the body that alcohol does as well? Yup, man-boobs and other female-pattern fat-storing.

    Brad wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • In most cases these effect as I understand them are more the result of the estrogenic effects of Hops on beer drinkers than the effects of alcohol itself. Though alcohol certainly impairs liver clearance of hormones which contributes heavily to hormonal imbalances.

      Sean Donahue wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  12. Is there any danger of getting too much testosterone as a woman? I have heard of women losing their fertility from exercising too much. If you look at Olympic athletes they always have tiny breasts and hips. Is this due to testosterone? I know that the Primal Blueprint does not advocate this much training, I am just wondering what the guidelines are for testosterone as a a woman. How do I know if I have the right amount? Do I need to be careful while pregnant and/or nursing? Thanks!

    Barefoot_explorer wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Women will not over-produce testosterone, generally speaking. Those muscle-bound athletes are the rare exception, not the rule. As a woman, do not be afraid to lift like a man.

      RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • Lift like a man – that’s so funny! I have seen some men lift with pretty poor form!!
        How about “lift like a champion” instead?

        claire wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • Ha! Okay, let me modify that statement:

          Lift like a man who lifts correctly, and not like a little girl who is afraid to lift for fear of getting big muscles! LOL!

          RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • Holy mother of mercy, I watched some 20-something kid totally hack job some deadlifts today that made me cringe and fear for his back.

          On women; you won’t ever, ever look like those olympic athletes unless you have the genetics and you turn your life over to training like one. It’s really a non-issue.

          Alchemyguy, Science Bulldog wrote on June 23rd, 2010
    • In April I started a 4 day a week bootcamp after a long sedentary stint. My period stopped for 6 weeks. I believe that exercise caused an increase in my testosterone and caused the absence of my period. My body finally adjusted when I cut back a day of hardcore working out and I’ll probably feel comfortable adding more exercise when my period regulates itself again. Female bodybuilders and gymnasts often have decreased breast size and few or no menstrual cycles, but if you aren’t working out THAT often and to THAT level, I doubt a woman could have too much.

      If you’re concerned, talk to your OB/GYN and have blood tested for testerone levels. You and your doctor can discuss how exercise/testosterone will affect your body and what is a healthy level for you.

      Cassie wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • I am admittedly not a medcial professional, but my readings have led me to believe that a women is not going to get too much testosterorne from exercising and diet, even lifting heavy.

      HOWEVER…if you want to see what happens when this does go awry for women, just take a look at some of the first women body-builders who were “doing the juice”. They look almost like men, even in the face. Today’s female figure athletes don’t have this look, because they saw what very excessive testosterone supplementation does to the female body.

      Phil-SC wrote on June 26th, 2010
  13. Excellent post!

    I would add that in cases of low Testosterone removing highly estrogenic plants like Soy and Hops from the diet can be important in normalizing Testosterone levels.

    Aralia nudicaulis, “Wild Sarpsarilla” root can also be helpful both in normailizing testosterone levels (adjusting up or down) and in reducing cortisol by regulating and nourishing the adrenals.

    Sean Donahue wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  14. i also take maca, to increase both T and P, and help control E.

    tess wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  15. As far as I know T also needs to be RELEASED at some point (a fight, have sex, etc). because too much T is going to make you overly aggressive, lowered focus (though its high focus w/ good levels of T) and some other stuff I have noticed (and been told).

    Any thoughts Mark/other?

    Oliver wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • I can definitely see how reduced frequency of sex could lower someone’s focus….

      Sara wrote on June 24th, 2010
    • Oatstraw infusions will help to free bound testosterone.

      St. John’s Wort will aid in its clearance by the liver.

      As long as the liver is functioning properly and the channels for clearing hormones are not overloaded the body will modulate its own testosterone levels properly

      Sean Donahue wrote on June 30th, 2011
  16. At the age of 64, my husband was found to have critically low T. He now takes an injection of T once per week, and he has to take Arimadex twice per week, to keep from having high estrogen. I would be interested to know what else he could do to keep from having to take the Arimadex…

    RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Check out resveratrol. It supposedly has an anti-estrogen effect plus other good effects.

      Tom wrote on June 24th, 2010
    • Green Tea and Button Mushrooms have been shown in trials to reduce Estrogen.

      Michael wrote on June 26th, 2010
  17. as far as the guys in jail having more testosteron…it’s a chicken and the egg situation. it could be that those with higher testosterone tend to be more violent and commit more crimes. like men who are XXY instead of XY are more likely to commit crimes….

    Alexa wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Or their bodies increase testosterone because they in a constantly hostile environment?

      nathan wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • It’s because they lift weights all the time cause all they got.

        Jason wrote on July 28th, 2012
  18. Being 50 with the ovaries winding down & all, the female side of T is of interest. What else can we do (besides RSL’s hip pellet) to keep up some T in our systems? sounds like another “women’s issues” column (or week) is about due…
    @barefoot_explorer – the reason those female athletes lose fertility is usually tied in to their amt of body fat, etc. Also, overly fit (overly trained?) women tend to lose their womanly shape- alot of our curves are fat.
    Also interesting to note is the women who do produce too much T on their own: those women tend to have a less curvy figure (think little hips, flat butt), fertility issues…
    Another “just goes to show” we’re all different

    Peggy wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • I would surmise, based on the post, that regular strength training, good sleep, and a Primal diet would be the prescription for older women to keep high T-levels and preserve libido, the same as for young men looking to put on muscle or whatever.

      Uncephalized wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • Well, hope springs eternal! Declining hormones, including T, cannot be kept high with healthy living. And depending on your point of view, you either need to balance your hormones to young healthy levels to promote continuing health, or let them decline and get sick. I have decided to replace my hormones with natural, bio-identical ones. I take progesterone, T and thyroid.

        RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
        • I in need of some serious help, my t level is 106.5 barley on the scale, i’ve taken 3 t shots from my doctor of 150, and my level is unchanged, what can I do?

          Darron wrote on September 12th, 2012
      • frequent sex and g-spot stimulation greatly reduces anxiety in women. for bone and muscle density, women should swallow frequently to make sure they’re getting proper levels of nutrients.

        native man wrote on April 26th, 2012
    • There are 4 billion women in the world. Why waste our time arguing with those that hate men. Also, why waste time with her egg (4 billion to choose from) – keep her type barren and lonely. Sleep only with the good women…

      Terry wrote on September 14th, 2012
  19. Serious question. Can a vasectomy affect testosterone production?

    fishin-frog wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Good question. I looked at this a few months back as I was considering a vasectomy. The information about is relatively hazy, but I was able to find one piece of information that suggested testosterone is partially transmitted along the epididymis (sp?) and could be affected when it is cut. That was enough for me… if it ain’t broke – don’t break it!

      Jamie wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • If you want some information about vasectomy from the other side of the aisle look for the vasectomy group on Yahoo. Lot’s of these guys say their T levels have plummeted and with the expected side effects.

        Not scientific – but it is far from a ‘completely safe’ procedure.

        Curtis wrote on June 23rd, 2010
    • Many men who become naturally deficient in testosterone ponder the relationship between having a vasectomy and testosterone levels if thinking about boosting their testosterone levels with testosterone replacement therapy.

      The connection between vasectomy and testosterone production may influence their decision as to whether to have a vasectomy or not.

      The correlation between having a vasectomy and testosterone levels is somewhat in dispute. Although some facts about the relationship of having a vasectomy and testosterone production seem to be commonly accepted, other studies of vasectomy and testosterone levels have reached different conclusions.

      Research on the matter, however, generally agrees that if there is a correlation between vasectomy and testosterone levels it is probably not a negative one. That is, vasectomies do not cause the manufacture of testosterone to decrease.

      Some research concerning having a vasectomy and testosterone levels shows no change in hormone level in the blood.

      A link between prostate cancer and the amount of testosterone in the blood sheds light on the subject. The association between prostate cancer, and vasectomy and testosterone production research is sketchy.

      For men who already have prostate cancer, increasing testosterone advances the condition. A higher incidence of men who have had vasectomies having prostate cancer indicates a higher relationship between those have had a vasectomy and testosterone production increase.

      In 1993 two large research projects concerning vasectomy and testosterone levels were conducted. In one, 10,000 men that had a vasectomy had 1.5 times the chance of getting prostate cancer. The other study of vasectomy and testosterone levels came to the same conclusion.

      But in June of 1999 a study of vasectomy and testosterone production showed there was no difference in the number of people who had had vasectomies when prostate cancer victims were surveyed.

      After the vasectomy, the apparent lack of testosterone production changes prevent any loss of sexual abilities by the man. The surgery affects neither the subsequent desire for sex by a man nor the frequency at which he can perform it.

      A question arises if there is a safe way to boost testosterone levels for men who have vasectomies and suspect they are suffering from low testosterone levels without side effects.

      One possible solution lies from using a natural herb called tribulus terrestris. Tribulus terrestris is an herb that has been used by many cultures for at least a thousand years to remedy both sexual and also non-sexual problems.

      Tribulus terrestris has no known side effects when used to boost testosterone levels. It may be a safe and effective way to increase testosterone for men who want to have or have had a vasectomy.

      In conclusion, it has been shown that vasectomy and testosterone production variation is probably small enough in most cases to make having a vasectomy a safe procedure to undertake.

      RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
      • It has been my observation that guys who have had vasectomies showed no symptoms of reduced T 😉

        Peggy wrote on June 23rd, 2010

          LOU wrote on January 19th, 2014
    • I had a my tube done 20 years ago, by a female Dr Cannon (funny & true), and my drive is as good as ever it was… even at 63!

      Justin wrote on February 15th, 2014
  20. If only us women had an increase in testosterone as a result of exercise. I think that’s what gives guys the edge when it comes to fat loss. It’s definitely the reason they can grow bigger muscles then us.

    Anyway, when my female clients want to lose fat I always tell them we have to focus on growth hormone instead, since we can control its release with many of the factors listed in this blog.

    Susan Campbell wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  21. One wonders if the USDA’s drive to increase n-6 PUFA & decrease SFA intakes is a means to chemical castration of the population?!

    Jamie wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  22. Great article!
    I am interestd in the link between Sugar spikes and T levels – but the link provided was a dead end! Does anyone know how I can find the original research paper?

    claire wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  23. I’m hoping someone who is well versed in mechanics of hormones, diet and physical fitness would explore/explain the workings of all these on a woman’s body as she approaches menopause. (Mark- hint, hint)
    I know several women who are approaching mid forties whom I exercise with, who have said that they are starting to gain weight even though nothing has changed in their eating habits and physical fitness. I myself have gone through this, I’m a few years older than them. Even cutting back on the calories and exercising more doesn’t help very much.
    I’m certain that it has everything to do with changing hormone levels as one approaches menopause along with the diet and exercise routine.
    Mark, has your wife gone through this and if so, what does she do to combat this?

    cathyx wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • I found the book “Ageless” to be invaluable in addressing these very issues.

      I had all those issues, and it was very frustrating! I feel better now!

      RSL wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • I have to jump in here since I specialize in hormones. What you are asking is in depth but the short answert is yes, hormones influence your entire body both directly and indirectly. If you are eating Primal and working out but notice they are not helping there probably is a hormonal imbalance resulting from adrenal fatigue. See most comment below on the “pregnenalone steal.”

      James wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Cathyx,

      I’m sure as you know that with menopause, oestrogen levels decline, and as a result women lose much of the protection that oestrogen otherwise afforded them. This includes the pattern of fat deposition. With the decline in oestrogen and a relative increase in the testosterone:oestrogen ratio, many women start to take on more of a male pattern of fat depostition, i.e. increased abdominal fat storage.
      Unfortunately, this can be several years in the making. A poor diet might have been consumed for many years but the results smewhat masked by the protection of oestrogen. Losing that oestrogen dominance can rapdily expose this. So the first lesson is, don’t think that just because you don’t tend to store a lot fo fat on your tummy, that you diet isn’t poor. The second lesson is, don’t wait until things are going ‘apple-shaped’ before you start to do something about it!

      Anecdotally, I have helped several menopausal women through my practice. Getting them to eat primally, lift heavy, and do high intensity activity, has seen them transition through a relatively uneventful menopause. One who I began working with mid way through & who was suffering from lots of hot flushes had these completely disappear as soon as she took the last of the grains out of her diet. Her sleep improved drastically, and there were obvious flow on aspects from there.

      I have read that in hunter-gatherer societies, menopause is relatively uneventful for the women there too.

      Jamie wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  24. Mark since you are on a hormone kick, you have to discuss the pregnenalone steal and adrenal fatigue. Since we are talking about testosterone, if someone has low testosterone the quesiton is why. More times than not it is due to the pregnenalone steal. The mother hormones pregnenalone gets “stolen” to make cortisol (by progesterone) to combat stress. This process makes the pathway of pregnenalone to DHEA to the sex hormones less viable thus resulting in low testosterone and estrogens. You can lift all you want, eat all you want but if this is happening, it trumps everything else. Repairing the adrenal glands and improving the viability of the pregnenalone pathway is key to really boosting testosterone to the right levels.

    James wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • James, I like your thinking. Suggestions on repair of the adrenal glands?? Pregnenalone supplementation for men?? Ideas??

      dave p wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  25. I would REALLY like to know how to lower estrogen levels in men’s body without using pills

    C2H5OH wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • I mean prolactin -.- Sorry

      C2H5OH wrote on June 22nd, 2010
    • Be a man!

      Xander wrote on June 29th, 2010
  26. You mention getting adequate zinc. Is that from eating organ meats like liver? Or is just red meat enough?

    Also would supplements like Zinc from Standard Process be a good idea?

    Edward wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  27. The fact that insulin drops testosterone levels surprised me. As a weight lifter it is pretty common to purposely spike my insulin after a tough training session.

    I have heard from several sources that testosterone in men has been dropping steadily for decades now. I wonder if this correlates to the increase of carbs and subsequent insulin spikes in the diet of the masses?

    Or if it is due to all the strange toxins in today’s foods? Or both?

    nathan wrote on June 22nd, 2010
  28. A couple of other testosterone killers to mention are:

    1. Endocrine disrupting chemical exposure via industrial pollution, and

    2. Estrogen.

    Estrogen is a potent testosterone inhibitor. When combined with high levels of insulin, most men are doomed to sporting a rockin’ set of man-boobs

    Doug wrote on June 23rd, 2010
    • Right.



      Too many men have this ridiculous unsubstantiated fear of estrogen, not recognizing its potent MASCULINIZING EFFECTS.

      ALso men don’t seem to realize that estrogen is crucial for a functioning libido. Low estrogen = low libido. If you have high testosterone, chances are you have healthy good estrogen levels and good libido due to aromatization, an essential part of steroid mehcanics.

      Avishek Saha wrote on June 1st, 2012
  29. Jimmy Cliff….”the harder they come..the harder they fall…one and all”…!

    richard wrote on June 23rd, 2010
  30. I lift heavy 3-4 days a week, sprint 1-3 days a week and take zinc supplements with 5000 IU of vit D, and calcium before bed. The trifecta…

    Waking up like a teenager with morning wood. LOL. That wasn’t happening 45 pounds ago on my sad SAD diet.

    Primal living and Testosterone baby!

    Farley wrote on June 23rd, 2010
    • “morning wood”, ha ha! We didn’t have that expression when I was a teen (I’m 56). When I came back to the US after a long time living abroad (before the internet), an acquaintance and I were discussing the sizes of our respective fireplaces and how to stack the wood inside them, and I innocently asked, “So how long is your wood?” Everybody around us cracked up laughing.

      garymar wrote on June 23rd, 2010
    • How old are you, Harley?

      RSL wrote on June 23rd, 2010
      • I’m 39 years old, so still a bit young but nonetheless my poor diet and obesity resulted in low testosterone levels and high blood pressure. my blood pressure hit 150/105 which put me promptly on the primal path.

        Farley wrote on June 23rd, 2010
        • Well, good for you! I was interested in your age to see if you were sayng that “going Primal” at an tyoical age for Andropause (50-60+) caused your testosterone to return to youthful levels.


          RSL wrote on June 23rd, 2010
    • i have the same feeling
      i am 37 , just dropped 25 kg , going primal , lifting weights +IF

      The hormones are boiling . the sex drive is enormous.
      i attribute it to loss of fat that was transfering my testosteron to estrogen.

      Sergey wrote on August 23rd, 2011
      • First!

        Fred wrote on October 27th, 2012
  31. You just gotta ask yourself does it give you Wood?

    Tony Phillips wrote on June 23rd, 2010
  32. Interesting article on testosterone, estrogen and andropause:

    RSL wrote on June 23rd, 2010

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!