Testosterone: What it Does & Doesn’t Do

Testosterone is a misunderstood molecule. It holds such great sway over the human body that it has gained a reputation, and perhaps even a mystique. Society associates testosterone with Arnold Schwarzenegger (circa 1980s), with strength, virility, aggression, violence, square jaws, and six-pack abs. We also tend to blame testosterone for certain male tendencies and traits in our society, as well as some medical disorders, although there is little scientific basis for this blame.

What Testosterone Does

Testosterone is the major sex steroid hormone in men, and its effects are wide-ranging and powerful. Most notably, it transforms a boy into a man. It sparks the development of facial and pubic hair, the Adam’s apple, a deeper voice, bigger muscles, and a broader chest.

In the adult male, testosterone is necessary for sexual desire, erections, and sperm production. Not all of its benefits are related to sex, however. It also helps to maintain a normal blood count, strengthen bones, build muscle mass, and regulate mood.

Does Testosterone Provoke Violence?

A surge of testosterone might explain why a 16-year-old boy is fixated on sexual desires, but it does not explain away acts of violence. One prevalent belief is that excessive testosterone can make a man uncontrollably aggressive. In reality, men tend to feel moodier and more anxious when they have lower testosterone levels. Studies show that testosterone treatment can help disperse these negative feelings.In fact, the correlation between men who are violent and their  past experience with violence is much higher than anything having to do with testosterone.

Don’t Blame Testosterone for Your Hair or Cancer Either

It is also untrue that high testosterone levels cause male pattern baldness and prostate cancer. Baldness is not a sign of virility, nor is it associated with high testosterone levels. Instead, it is associated with genetics, specifically from the mother’s side of the family for male pattern, crown centered baldness or the father’s side for overall baldness. Testosterone balance can marginally influence the rate at which baldness happens, but doesn’t determine the final look of the hairline.

Meanwhile, prostate cancer appears to be associated with low levels of testosterone, and not high ones. So, basically, despite underpinning hairiness, sweatiness, smelliness, and horniness, testosterone is very good for men.

When Is Testosterone Treatment Bad?

Does testosterone deserve the bad rap it gets? Taken appropriately, as replacement for naturally low levels, testosterone is not dangerous, nor is it illegal. That said, things are different if it is taken as a supplement.

Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced variants of natural testosterone. Some common street or slang names for anabolic steroids include arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, roids, stackers, weight trainers, and juice. There are about 100 different types of anabolic steroids circulating nowadays.

When anabolic steroids are taken as a supplement to boost normal testosterone levels, they can lead to some interesting side effects: shooting blanks instead of having a normal sperm count, making male breast tissue tender, and causing acne outbreaks like you have not seen since you were 14.

When a man abuses steroids, all bets are off regarding the healthy benefits that normal testosterone balance has on cholesterol balance, liver and heart health, blood pressure, and mood. Unless your doctor has put you on a supervised testosterone treatment to address low testosterone levels, follow the wisdom of power MLB hitter Jim Thome, who said: “The strongest thing I put into my body is steak and eggs.”