While testosterone can be taken by injection, by implant or transdermally (topical to skin, usually in the armpit), why do the purported benefits range so greatly for men using it? Because, it really does!
Through their physician, some men (roughly between 40 and 75) choose HRT or TRT to primarily increase libido or sex drive, but also to look and perform better, with more energy and overall vitality. However, both anecdote and science data suggests that for a fair percentage of T users, there’s less than a sterling response. Once more, the longer a man relies on exogenous testosterone replacement the less effective this hormone seems to benefit him (especially sexually). There also becomes (more or less), a lifelong dependence on the exogenous testosterone therapy.
Man is a Sensory Creature!
What man ‘senses’ often stimulates psycho-biological reactions that prepare the body to ‘manage’ that which is being sensed. By this I mean, when a man’s brain ‘senses’ it’s hot his body shifts fluids from organs, muscle and blood to the surface of the skin to cool himself off (i.e., perspiration). When the temperature drops, and that same man senses it’s cold, his muscles shiver to elevate body temperature from friction. Another example is a man who’s asleep under the rays (sunbathing in his back yard), jumps completely off his lawn chair when he ‘hears’ a firecracker, loud noise or car backfire. His brain immediately ‘senses’ danger. Essentially, his hypothalamus gland releases a chemical signal, to signal or alert his adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline. This reaction accelerates respiration and heart rate, both to supply more energy and oxygen (blood) to suddenly tensing muscles that have to either ‘fight or flight’; or jump off of lawn chairs, to ‘manage’ the eminent danger. This is one of man’s ‘caveman’ genes.
In regards to sexual performance, the brain works in a similar fashion. When man sees, smells, tastes, hears, touches, or is touched by ‘something sexy’, his brain ‘releases’ chemical signals aimed at enticing his sexual-reproductive organs to ‘manage the thing’ being sensed. Under brain-scan technology, known as positron-emission tomography (PET), a specific compartment in the brain illuminates during sex and orgasm; all while the five senses are (erotically) active. Interestingly, that same brain compartment, known as the ventral tegmental area, (VTA) also shows heightened activity during memory-related imagery and vision stimulation1; or when the sixth sense is active.
PET scan technology links all of the (obvious) five senses to the ‘brain / genital’ (big head/little head) connection but, more interestingly, to the often ignored or misunderstood, sixth sense. Man’s ‘sixth sense’ is summed as “his desire, erotic memories and fantasies, lust, and libido.”
In a healthy sexual context, the sheer ‘thought’ of sex ignites the same reactions that are triggered when a person is ‘physically’ engaged in sex as the genitals (gonads and penis) receive persuasive chemical messengers from the brain that stimulate sperm production, genital sensitivity and erections (to name a few reactions). It’s man’s genetic code, his original DNA programming, to be a pro-creative being. Removing religious and cultural connotations, this is man’s primary mission, other than eating, drinking, sleeping and generally seeking shelter.
Considering the mathematical success of the human race we started out with two people (or, at least as Genesis in the Bible may suggest), while today we’re at 7 billion. As God suggested we have been fruitful and have multiplied! By all accounts, man is very successful at fulfilling his genetic obligations which ‘Mother Nature’ made easy by rewarding him with extreme pleasure for just trying to ‘advance the species’.
“Everything man does is motivated by his passion to fulfill his sexual desires”
Dr. Sigmund Freud
“The Big Head or Little Head — Who’s Really in Charge?”
Many consider testosterone the king of all male hormones. However, there’s a new wave of sexual-health specialists who are rethinking a single-hormone approach to sexual enhancement. To them, several hormones need to be considered. In particular, the gonadotrophins; i.e., luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), both of which influence genital health and performance.
The gonadotrophins are produced through a close relationship between the hypothalamus and pituitary glands; that, coincidently, influence the VTA region. Upon an erotic ‘sensation’ from any one, or all of the six senses, the hypothalamus delivers gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRh) to the pituitary. When properly received, the pituitary responds by ‘releasing’ the gonadotrophins to the genitals that (ultimately) influences testicular sperm production and penile erection; to mention two. This sequence of events is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis, or HPTA; some replace testicular with ‘gonadal’, for HPGA, relating to both sexes; female gonads are the ovaries.
One possible reason why some ‘disappointed guys’ no longer respond to their TRT can be blamed on HPTA down-regulation with concurrent declines in the gonadotrophins. Basically, the ‘regular’ operations for the hypothalamus and pituitary have slowed or shut ‘down’, while the testicles and penis are not receiving adequate hormonal (performance) fuel.
Confusingly, many of the men who are dissatisfied with the purported sex-boosting benefits of TRT actually register mid-normal to high-normal total testosterone blood levels, say 500-600 ‘units’. However, down-regulation typically occurs when the brain ‘senses’ the presence of exogenous testosterone. When a man becomes ‘de-sensitized’ in this manner there’s a “disconnect” between his brain and genitals, and when he ‘senses’ sex is about to occur he often complains, “It just isn’t happening”.
Another reasonable hypothesis is to get a better understanding of exactly what is considered “normal” testosterone blood levels. Let’s say a man measures ‘normal’ with a 300 ng/dl (nanogram per deciliter of blood) level of total testosterone, when 250 ng/dl — 750 ng/dl is regarded as a low-to-high “range of normal” by most physicians. However, consider that when this guy was a young whippersnapper of 21, his blood ‘T’ levels could have measured a normal of 700-1000 units. Many ‘undereducated’ examiners ignorantly inform their sexually challenged male patients, “Your testosterone levels are normal. Go home and get some rest, you’ll be perking up soon”.
However, it’s NOT this simple. These practitioners may have failed to consider this man’s ‘T’ levels are now measuring in at one-third the man he once was. Even this normal ‘T’ levels; especially those exogenously produced, are not providing satisfactory boosts in libido and erection capabilities, for way too many men.
Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than this.
Here are a few things to consider about HRT or TRT:
• Men should cycle on-and-off TRT to avoid HPTA shutdown and testicular suppression to intentionally (attempt to) reboot endogenous hormonal productions. Some rebooting techniques suggest a use of clomid, HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and other (off-label, very expensive) prescription drugs that ‘trick’ the HTPA into returning to normal function2.
• Physicians must examine men with sexual performance challenges by also taking into account their lifestyle, diet, emotional, physical and financial conditions. Does this man smoke, drink alcohol or use varying medications or drugs? Is he over-caffeinated or over-stimulated? Adrenal suppression depletes a significant portion of a man’s endogenous testosterone.
• Is the man a current or former anabolic steroid user? Date shows that chronic (more than 2-5 years of steady steroid use) can permanently damage the HPTA.
• Work and emotion are so critical. Many men are physically capable of having sex but are in ‘fear of failing’ and experiencing performance anxiety. All it takes is a couple failed (sexual) experiences, (or some condescending remark from an inconsiderate mate), and men will ‘shrivel’ up and encounter the ‘turtle effect’3.
• Is the man financially stable? A man might be able to procreate, per se, but if he’s not capable of supporting his family (or himself) he may feel he is not fulfilling his other two genetic obligations that money provides; (i.e., eating and shelter)! Financially challenged men, especially at the age range from 35-65, often suffer excessive levels of stress that ‘rob them’ of much of their manhood.
• Is the man obtaining proper nourishment from healthy foods and certain supplements? Natural foods and herbs are traced back to the beginning of man, original hunters and gatherers, and who’ve kept man re-producing, and having a lot of sex, ever since. The biggest problem is a diet that is too low in essential fatty acids.
• Normal, even high-normal, blood ‘T’ levels (say 600-700) often fail to enhance many men’s sexual capabilities! You see, a single-hormone ‘sex-enhancing’ strategy may be instigating or exasperating a HPTA disturbance.
Let’s say this for sure. TRT has become BIG business. Once more, too many ill-informed prescribers are striving to propagate testosterone alone hormone to gain business and position themselves on the popular side of consumer demand. (It USED to be that growth hormone was wrongly touted as the single be-all and end-all hormone).
My conclusion to all of you is that TRT is “an infant” science. Doctors simply don’t have all the answers, yet. One thing you can be sure of, PLANET MUSCLE will continue to explore this emerging science and present it all to you!
1 The Orgasmic Mind: Martin Potter, Scientific American Mind, April/May 2008
2 Courtesy: Dr. Karlis Ullis, Santa Monica, CA
3 Courtesy: Dr. Joel Kaplan, American Board of Sexology, San Diego, CA
Written by John Abdo, ©, All Rights Reserved.
John Abdo is an Olympic Strength & Conditioning Coach, Master Fitness Trainer, co-formulator for Androzene® and author of the doctor-endorsed book Ultimate Sexual Health & Performance™.
For more information please visit www.Androzene.com.
This article is NOT construed as medical advice. Always seek the help of a qualified medical authority.