If you read much in the androsphere it might seem like this is the magic potion. Game advice will often implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, state that more testosterone will make a man more alpha. Outside of the androsphere it is often toted as a cure for all that ails a man.
Now at some level, this makes sense. After all, in a biochemical manner, it is the mark of a man. I was always a bit skeptical of magic T as the driver of male confidence and sex drive. I often suspected that dopamine was more likely the driver of alpha behavior. I believe that it is more likely that dopamine is behind, extraversion, sex drive, sensation seeking and decisiveness. While testosterone may drive a man’s sensitivity to status, it is dopamine providing the energy to seek it.
All of this musing comes from the result of recent blood tests. While skeptical, I was willing to consider that my T levels might be low. I certainly relished the chance to find a relatively easy fix that would turn me into a more dynamic individual (because sex hormones can easily be measured, any treatment can easily be monitored).
Willing to put my masculine pride aside, I recently took lab tests that include among all the standard tests (cholesterol, Red Blood Count, White Blood Count, T4, T3, etc.) a measure of my testosterone. I had no particular expectation. If forced to guess I would have expected my levels to be normal (although perhaps at the lower end). If at the lower end, I might then have sought T therapy.
Imagine my surprise (and yours) when my levels came back high. I do not just mean near the top end of normal for a middle-aged man, I mean high. High even for a twenty-something.
In some ways I am surprised. I doubt anyone would call me feminine but nobody would accuse me of being a tower of masculine energy. I am deeply introverted, non-combative, and not particularly driven to lead or dominate others. In other ways I am not surprised because I suspect that the effects of testosterone are not quite what people expect.
As I look at it now I can see how someone that fits my character description could still have high T. In my more poetic, and aggrandizing, moments I would describe myself as still and solid, not introverted or shy. Deeply and intensely still, but certainly not submissive. I suspect that this much maligned molecule is partly behind male stoicism and sense of honor.
In some ways I am happy, there is something comforting, as a man, to having a plenty of the primary chemical that makes me a man. In some ways I am disappointed, low T levels would give me an angle of attack on the somewhat malaised feeling my life has. It would give me something that I can apply, measure, and monitor. Altering dopamine levels is trickier and hard to measure. Brain chemistry is more difficult to measure an more easy to upset.
[I am well aware that messing with hormone levels brings its own problems and difficulties. However, simple blood tests can confirm relative levels]
The benefits I receive from testosterone are mostly physical. Although small for a man, I am very sturdy. I recover from anaerobic exercise quickly. A while ago, over the long weekend, I helped a friend out with some building and yard work. While smaller than all the other men, I was able to keep up. Whereas the following day they complained of aches and pains, I was ready to go. I have good musculature without much (any) training. I am rarely sick. I have taken my share of tumbles but never broken a bone. I suspect all of this results from the anabolic (muscle and bone building) effects of testosterone. For all of that I am grateful.
Perhaps there is a dark side to the magic T deal. If my body is sturdy then my brain is fragile. My mood and mental energy are much more unstable. I have deep introversion driven, I suspect, by that fragile brain. Poor sleep will hammer my thinking while having little effect on my body (at least in the short to medium term). I have done little research on it, but I am, not surprised that testosterone might exact a price on the brain.
By all rights I should be the thundering, rampaging alpha of the androsphere. I suspect my T levels are higher than the majority of male posters. Despite this, I am not the silverback of the androsphere (or even my local arena). Other men need to realize that your T level is just one number. I need to realize that my search for malaise ending potion is not over.
Testosterone may be the mark of a male but on its own it does not make the man. Perhaps it suffers the Goldilocks syndrome: a little is bad, too much is bad, but just the right amount is perfect.
Although testosterone is linked in peoples minds with aggression, that may not be the case. Some studies have linked testosterone in humans with more fair-minded dealing.
Such descriptions are in line with how I deal with people. I am not a pushover but prefer win-win situations. I get no pleasure from win-lose but may take them to avoid loss myself. Domination for itself offers me no rewards. One interesting part of the study was that those who only thought they had received testosterone acted in a more aggressive manner. In other words it was the idea of testosterone and not the chemical itself that drove actions.
I have seen some studies [not to hand right now] that show that testosterone’s beneficial effects on visio-spatial skills are not linear. It may follow an inverted U dose-response or may have an even more complicated dose-response curve. For a male (perhaps even in general), I have a hopeless sense of direction. I cannot instinctively point to North and can get lost even when I have a map. My mathematical and image rotation abilities are fair at best. Of course, such brain masculizing may be brought on by fetal or pubertal testosterone, not free testosterone.
Although testosterone is linked with male sex drive I have the opposite problem. My sex drive has disappeared. I am not aware of studies showing a negative link between the two. Theory would say that such high levels should leave me in a rutting frenzy. While the equipment is functional, the desire is absent. I suffer from the reverse of Shakespeare’s warning about alcohol provoking the desire but taking way from the performance.