Understanding Testosterone and its Implications

May 29, 2023

Martin Kuchynka

This post covers the significance of testosterone, its role in muscle growth and overall health, the mechanisms of synthesis and action, the emergence of artificial forms, the risks of doping and hormonal imbalance, and the importance of informed choices for both natural well-being and competitive performance.

What we'll talk about

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that, like the other steroid hormones is created from a cholesterol molecule. The more testosterone you have, the faster your muscle mass will increase as a result of training, and at the same time, the more muscle mass your body will be able to maintain. Testosterone is the main hormone responsible for increasing performance and gaining muscle mass. Scientists have created a whole constellation of testosterone preparations, from tablets (oxandrolone) to injectables (testosterone propionate) to topical forms (stanozol cream). Steroids can cause disruption of the hormonal balance after withdrawal, which has a far-reaching effect on all body systems.

Understanding Testosterone

What Testosterone is and How it Functions

Testosterone in men is related to gaining muscle mass, burning fat, bone and brain health, performance, motivation, libido, performance in bed, and erection. Its increase is therefore in the sight of not only bodybuilders, strength athletes, professional athletes, naturopaths, and endocrinologists, but in general, all men that strive for long-term health, mental or physical performance, and great physique.

Women have also testosterone, albeit in a much smaller percentage, where, similarly to estrogen in men, it fulfills its specific function of hormonal balancing and maintenance of physical and mental health.

Synthesis and Regulation of Testosterone

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that, like the other steroid hormones is created from a cholesterol molecule that is metabolized to pregnenolone. However, the synthesis of testosterone requires the creation of androgens (DHEA and androstenedione). In women, this process has an extra step where most of the testosterone is made into estrogens.

Testosterone is primarily synthesized in the testes (95%) and ovaries, secondarily in adrenal glands. Synthesis occurs as the hypothalamus sends a signal via the pituitary glands to the gonads, where the chemical messengers carrying this information are luteinizing (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

When testosterone reaches the bloodstream, most of it (approx. 60%) is inactive by binding to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), the rest of the so-called biologically active testosterone (free testosterone – 2% and testosterone bound to albumin approx. 38%). Active testosterone binds to androgen receptors which activate gene expression and synthesis of new structural proteins in them, which at the level of muscle cells takes the form of proteosynthesis, i.e. the creation of new muscle mass.

The more testosterone you have, the faster your muscle mass will increase as a result of training, and at the same time, the more muscle mass your body will be able to maintain.

A prerequisite for adequate testosterone synthesis is sufficient amount of cholesterol and some micronutrients in food (D, Zinc, B3, B6, E). As important is the balance between testosterone and other hormones.

Similar to cortisol, testosterone is naturally secreted throughout the day (circadian), with the highest level in the morning, and in men, also during the night. In addition, acute release of testosterone also occurs as a result of acute release of dopamine (when encountering an obstacle, the removal is what motivates us), or at optimal level of acute stress (eustress), such as exposure to cold or strength training.

Artificial Forms of Testosterone

Historical Use of Natural Methods

Basically, since the dawn of time, men have always tried to increase their testosterone naturally. Almost all ancient cultures incorporated herbs that improve erection, and libido or directly increase testosterone in their traditional medicine. However, this was not enough for modern man, which is why, together with the rapid development of biochemistry, efforts to isolate biologically active testosterone from animal testicles or to synthesize it artificially, began to appear more and more often.

Evolution of Artificial Testosterone

The positive effects of testosterone on health and gaining muscle mass led scientists to create a whole constellation of testosterone preparations, from tablets (oxandrolone, testosterone endecanoate), to injectables (testosterone propionate, cypionate, and other esters), to topical forms (stanozol cream). At the same time, these preparations help with all diseases that devastate muscle mass (such as AIDS), they serve as a supportive treatment after injuries and operations, or with pathologically reduced testosterone levels due to hypogonadism (genetic or due to age) – hormonal therapy.

However, what was a small step for healthcare has become an incredible leap for doping.

As written above, testosterone is the main hormone responsible for increasing performance and gaining muscle mass, and therefore it is not surprising that artificially created forms of testosterone from the health industry have very quickly entered professional sports, strength training, and bodybuilding.

Impact on Health and Sports

The abuse of exogenous testosterone was behind the boom and popularisation of bodybuilding from the golden era to its form today, as well as the rapid increase in the performance of professional athletes from athletics, through team sports such as hockey and rugby, to strength sports including CrossFit.

The abuse of steroids also gradually spread from a narrow variety of Olympians, through international and national level athletes, to the district level and then to the wider public. It is therefore not surprising that nowadays in a gym we increasingly meet younger and younger lifters who, without an adequate training age and optimal diet and supplementation, reach for prohibited substances.

Time has come so far that the sad practice of many clients of fitness trainers (not only men but also women) is that they are immediately offered the optimal steroid cycle during the initial consultation with the trainer.

Negative Aspects of Doping

Health Risks and Psychological Dependence

There are a number of negative aspects of doping abuse, from the emergence of psychological dependence, to of course, after health ones, where the risk factor is not so much the stress on the organs, the acne, hair loss, or other cosmetic ailments, as rather complete disruption of the hormonal balance after withdrawal, which has a far-reaching effect on all body systems and can subsequently very easily predispose a person to the onset of illness, whether physical or physiological.

At the same time, almost no one realizes or is not willing to admit the hidden connection between the dysregulation of hormones due to the abuse of steroids and the development of diseases in the following years. And thanks to this, we can paradoxically equate steroid abuse with the unhealthy consumerist lifestyle of today’s society, which is full of unhealthy food, alcohol, drugs, medications, toxins, and stress.

Steroid Abuse and Hormonal Balance

In both cases, this disruption of the hormonal balance first manifests itself as a resistance to body transformation, whether in the sense of burning fat or gaining muscle mass. The more a person the body is under stress during a steroid cycle, the less muscle mass will be retained. This, of course, leads to more depression and reinforces the desire to undergo another cycle as quickly as possible. This pathological process then leads to the emergence of psychological dependence on steroids, where some users end up on year-round cycles.

The resistance to body transformation, whether in the general population or after the end of a cycle, has one thing in common: TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY

A Cautionary Note on Steroids

Don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying that the use of steroids is the worst thing you can do. If you want to look sexy for women, 90% of them prefer a body that can be achieved naturally. For you who want to get onto Mr. Olympia’s stage or be the best in a sport you are doing, realize this. Steroids are not fun, if you wanna undergo the testosterone cycle, everything needs to be perfect, your nutrition, sleep, training, and blood work. You will be playing with your genes, look, and health, so my advice? Learn as much as you can, know what blood work you need, what supplements you should take, and what syndromes you should be aware of.

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