Read an Excerpt
In 2001 a young police officer checked himself into the emergency room at a local hospital in the middle of the night, bleeding and considerably weakened. His breath was heavy and labored, while a profuse sweat covered his face and body. He had the frail, gaunt look of a man three times his age. As the doctors crowded around him they were able to stop the bleeding, but the harm may have been permanent: his liver had been hit hard and badly damaged.
Had he been shot or stabbed in the line of duty? Had he suffered injuries in a car crash resulting from a high-speed chase?
No. He had been abusing synthetic testosterone, better known as anabolic steroids.
The bleeding was due to the abscesses on his arms at the injection sites. The liver damage was due to the damaging effects of a tidal surge of a hormone that the body produces in only relatively small amounts. The officer had been abusing steroids since 1993, and was 27 at the time of his first hospital visit–but he looked like he was an unhealthy 65.
Doctors eventually had to put him on a respirator and perform surgery to remove blood clots and to attempt to repair his liver. They were stunned that a young, strong, and seemingly intelligent man could be so dramatically weakened by the very hormone associated with strength and virility. They were even more stunned when he came back to the emergency room nine months later with the same problems, due to continued abuse. Massive amounts of testosterone had had the precise opposite effect to what he had expected.
You don’t need to abuse steroids to get swept up in our national obsession with testosterone. It doesn’t take much more than a daily sweep of unsolicited e-mails to know that supplements, gadgets, and gizmos guaranteeing higher testosterone levels have flooded the Internet marketplace and health-food store shelves. It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce that it’s pretty suspicious that so many records have been broken in professional sports over the last two decades. You don’t even need to be an athlete or body builder to know that testosterone is responsible for muscle mass, libido, bone strength, mood, and more.
But many men may not realize that the very chemical essence of their manhood is produced in increasingly short supply with each passing year after about age 30. It is the physiological destiny of every man on this planet to have less and less testosterone as the years go by, sometimes–but not always–culminating in an array of unpleasant symptoms. Hence, the quest for restoring or maintaining a lean and muscular body and a youthful sex drive throughout life.
I wrote this book primarily for men who want to know more about testosterone and make informed decisions about how, if at all, to address the natural decline that accompanies normal, healthy aging. Along the way, we’ll explore the many myths, lies, and cover-ups associated with testosterone replacement, supplements, steroids, and wacked-out claims with regard to how a man can increase his testosterone naturally.
I’ve done the best I can to arrange the material in this book in a logical and consistent manner. In chapter 1 we’ll take a look at exactly what testosterone is and does, and how the body produces it. Chapter 2 explores the effects and symptoms of testosterone when it is in too-short supply, as well as when there’s too much (the above story ought to give you an idea). Chapters 3 and 4 take a look at the connection between testosterone and overall health. We’ll look at health conditions that can have a lowering effect on testosterone, as well as health conditions that may themselves be the result of too much or too little testosterone. In chapter 5, we debate whether there is indeed such a thing as “male menopause” that results from the symptoms of flagging hormone levels at the beginning of middle age. Part 2 of this book explores treatment options, medical, non-medical, and even downright silly. We’ll weigh the pros and cons of medical testosterone replacement therapy, take an inside look at supplements that claim to boost testosterone (or at least replicate some of the effects of the hormone), and learn how diet and exercise can promote many of the same rejuvenating effects–without drugs or gimmicky supplements.
Finally, we’ll address testosterone as it pertains to women–yes, women. (And I’m not just talking about how your testosterone-fueled sex drive affects your poor wife.) Albeit in comparatively miniscule amounts, the female body also creates testosterone, for largely the same reason a man’s body does–and with similar effects and symptoms when production drops off for any number of reasons.
Though the content builds on itself from chapter to chapter, you’re free to dive into any particular chapter that catches your interest. You’ll notice at the end of each chapter that I’ve highlighted the main points in a section called “The Low-Down,” which ought to give you a good idea of what’s covered, and also to serve as a review when you’ve finished reading each chapter.
Overall, my goal is to provide you with the most up-to-date information available today, and present controversial topics as objectively as possible. In the end, it is up to you and your doctor to manage and address all aspects of your health and well-being, including your testosterone levels.