Testosterone: 10 Surprising Things Every Woman and Man Needs to Know

In her book, Eve’s Rib:  The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine Marianne J. Legato M.D says, “Everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their internal function but in the way they experience illness.” To begin with there are 10 trillion cells in the human body and every one of them is sex specific. The poet, Robert Bly, glimpsed this scientific truth when he wrote that boys need to be in the company of older men “in order to hear the sound that male cells sing.”

Until recently scientists believed that our genomes were 99.9% identical from one person to the next. “It turns out that this assertion is correct,” says David C. Page, M.D., professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),  “as long as the two individuals being compared are both men.  It’s also correct if the two individuals being compared are both women.”  New research from Dr. Page’s lab shows that the genetic difference between a man and a woman are 15 times greater than the genetic difference between two men or between two women.

One of the most significant differences is in our levels of the hormone testosterone. Testosterone is often called the “male” hormone. However, both men and women produce this hormone.  Did you know?

  1. Men have 20 to 40 times more testosterone (T) than do women.

This is one reason why our sex drives are so different. Men don’t think about sex all the time as some people believe, but we do think about sex, generally, more than women.

  1. Testosterone is responsible for the sex drive in both men and women.

When our sex drive begins to diminish as we age, the problem may be low T in men and women. Many women, and men, don’t realize that testosterone is important in keeping a woman’s sexual desire up.

  1. Testosterone can be converted to estrogen, but not the other way around.

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In Search of Your Lost Testosterone: 8 Reasons to Hire a Guide

low tMost everyone has heard of testosterone, but have only a vague idea of what it is, what it does, and why it is important. I’ve been researching testosterone since 1994 when I hit the big 5 0 and became concerned about my loss of desire, difficulty with erections, decreasing energy and vitality, and irritability and mood swings.

Here some things about testosterone that I’ve learned:

  • Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs. Hormones are powerful. It takes only a tiny amount to cause big changes in cells or even your whole body. That is why too much or too little of a certain hormone can be a problem.
  • Testosterone is the most important sex hormone that men have. It is responsible for the typical male characteristics, such as facial, pubic, and body hair as well as muscle. This hormone also helps maintain sex drive, sperm production, bone health, and other important functions throughout the body.
  • Although we think of testosterone as the quintessential male hormone, it is present in both males and females. Normal levels in males range from 300-1000 ng/dl. Normal levels for females are much lower, ranging between 15-70 ng/dl.
  • Make no mistake; testosterone is vitally important to the health and well-being of both men and women. In their book, entitled Natural Hormone Replacement for Women Over 45, Jonathan V. Wright, MD, and John Morganthaler recommend that “Replacing inadequate testosterone with natural testosterone can help protect the heart, improve mental alertness, make bones stronger, and revive a sagging sex life.
  • Testosterone levels peak in the late teens and then gradually decline over time, typically about one percent a year after age 30. Since there is a wide range of healthy testosterone levels in males and females, we don’t experiencing symptoms of decline until levels become too low.
  • Low testosterone, or Low T, can occur at any time of our lives, but generally can cause symptoms, including lack of sexual desire and vitality, when we are between the ages of 40 and 55, though problems can occur earlier or later. Stress, lack of exercise, and weight gain can also cause T levels to decline and cause symptoms.

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Low Testosterone and Scarcity: A Glimpse Into the Future of Mankind

scarcityYep, I’m working on a new book. When I saw the August 18, 2014 cover story for Time magazine—Manopause?! Aging, Insecurity and the $2 Billion Testosterone Industry—I knew it was time to tell men and women over 40 what I know about Manopause and Low T.

The story, for me, started in April, 1993. While browsing my local bookstore, Book Passage, I was drawn to a copy of Vanity Fair magazine. Well to be perfectly honest, I was drawn to the cover photo of Sharon Stone, nude to the waist, with her hands cupping, but only partially covering, her breasts. Sharon was staring seductively into my eyes with two inch letters emblazoned across her bare midriff proclaiming, “WILD THING!” I immediately bought the magazine. I was sure there was something important Sharon had to tell me.

However, I never read the article to find out, because just to the left of Sharon’s blond hair, right below the dateline, were the words that grabbed my attention and changed the course of my life. They said, “Male Menopause: The Unspeakable Passage by Gail Sheehy.” I had no idea what “male menopause” was, but I intuitively felt I was going through it. I knew Sheehy had written a book on menopause and wondered how she would compare it to “male menopause.” Her comparison was concise, clear, and unsettling.

“If menopause is the silent passage, ‘male menopause’ is the unspeakable passage. It is fraught with secrecy, shame, and denial. It is much more fundamental than the ending of the fertile period of a woman’s life, because it strikes at the core of what it is to be a man.”

After reading the article I had more questions than answers. I knew I had to write a book. That began a literary odyssey which produced five books Male Menopause (1997), Surviving Male Menopause (2000), The Whole Man Program (2002), The Irritable Male Syndrome (2004), and Stress Relief for Men (2014). In the books I dealt with a range of issues that impact men at mid-life including depression, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, loss of energy, and low testosterone. Now it’s time for a new book which will help guide men and the families who love them.

“Low T” is just one of the things that tell us that something is wrong in our lives. To understand the impact that decreasing testosterone has on the lives of aging men, we need to take a closer look at how scarcity impacts the lives of us all. [Read more…]