The Testosterone Paradox

Physicians within the realm of conventional medicine are beginning to warm up to the idea that testosterone is not as "bad" as it was once regarded. Back in the "old" days, a synthetic form was commonly used and, as a result, synthetic testosterone users experienced many dangerous side-effects.

Testosterone levels decrease with age, while Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) increases.

However, there are still some myths floating around about testosterone. For example, it is known that young men have plenty of testosterone, yet never suffer from an enlarged prostate.  Additionally, younger men are less likely to have trouble with their blood sugar or suffer from cardiovascular problems, let alone suffer from a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Why Do So Many Men Fear Testosterone?

Worried about hair loss? Testosterone itself doesn't really cause hair loss; however, there are some issues that require special attention.

The production of bio-available testosterone in a man generally begins to diminish by the age of twenty-five. Bio-available testosterone is defined as testosterone that is available for target tissues; the rest of it is bound to a protein called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). As a man gets older, testosterone is subjugated to estrogenic conversion.

The more estrogen that a man has, the less bio-available testosterone he will have. Moreover, a poor testosterone to estrogen ratio worsens blood sugar metabolism and increases risk of cardiovascular diseases. [1]

With age, the protein SHBG binds to testosterone in ever increasing amounts, allowing greater estrogenic influence. If estrogen levels become very high, a more potent androgen is produced called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Outdated conventional medical "wisdom" would lead one to believe that DHT is a "bad" hormone that results in prostate enlargement and perhaps even prostate cancer. More compelling evidence reveals that "they" have it completely backwards.

At the age of 35, testosterone and estrogen levels start to become about equal. In normal men, approximately 2% of testosterone is in the "free" (i.e. - unbound) form, while the remainder is bound to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). Testosterone is then metabolized by 5-alpha-reductase in target organs to the more potent androgen; dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which itself is metabolized by the enzyme aromatase to estradiol.

In layman’s terms, the older that a man gets, the more likely that he will become estrogen-dominant. Moreover, the "bad testosterone" begets the real culprit—estrogen.

This explains why those who undergo testosterone therapy may experience hair loss, as a lot of injected testosterone converts into estrogen via aromatase enzyme. Aromatase enzyme levels are likely to be high if sugar metabolism is not efficient. Insulin resistance or pre-insulin resistance conditions are typically met with low testosterone and high aromatase enzyme levels.  To regulate insulin levels and protect against insulin resistance, we recommend Ortho Nutrition’s™ Stabilized R-Lipoic Acid product.

To learn more about sugar metabolism, we recommend checking out the following article: 

Improving your Sugar Metabolism


[1]. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2006 Oct;65(4):506-13.