Testosterone is one of the most remarkable hormones we produce and further one of the most important. Both men and women naturally produce testosterone although men produce it at nearly ten times the rate. As by its existence testosterone is a steroidal hormone of the androgen class and is the primary androgen. As such, it is largely responsible for what makes men, men as it is essential to the male sexual characteristics. Beyond this factor, testosterone plays a host of important roles in the body revolving around the physical, sexual and even mental factors of life.
As the principal androgen produced by the body, and while playing many important roles, the testosterone hormone is also the father of all anabolic androgenic steroids in their synthetic forms. If it were not for testosterone there would be no anabolic androgenic steroids, and by this truth, all anabolic steroids owe their existence to the primary androgen. Many may find it surprising to know there is almost no difference between naturally produced testosterone and synthetically derived; the only difference worthy of note is the initial point of origin, as once in the body the body makes no distinguishing difference.
To understand the testosterone hormone one of the easiest methods is to examine what happens when our testosterone levels become too low, as is the case in many who suffer from low testosterone. Once we understand this we can begin to understand testosterone more thoroughly in its pure exogenous form. To provide a thorough understanding, we'll start by looking at low level effects, the history and origins of the synthetic form (the birth of anabolic steroids) and then the actual numerous versions of testosterone we have at our disposal.
Testosterone plays a massive role in the body based on sexual characteristics and function, muscle hypertrophy and metabolic regulation as well as issues revolving around mood, clarity and our overall general disposition. As such, it's easy to say testosterone affects nearly every aspect of our lives, and when levels begin to fall below a suitable and adequate range we begin to suffer and often dramatically. This is a pivotal point of discussion as millions upon millions of men worldwide suffer from low testosterone and see their lives greatly diminished. Often, such a condition builds very gradually, and the individual becomes progressively accustomed; nevertheless the results are no laughing matter. To understand the importance of the testosterone hormone we only need to look at what happens when our levels fall; specifically the effects of low testosterone and they include and may not be limited to:
• Erectile Dysfunction
• Decreased Libido (total loss in severe cases)
• Decreased Muscle Mass
• Loss of Strength
• Increased Body-Fat
• Lack of Energy
• Lack of Mental Focus
• Lack of Will
As you can easily see from the effects of low levels, testosterone is an extremely important hormone. Simply by looking at the direct physical effects of muscle loss, strength loss and increased body-fat we can see a lot as these conditions may prove to be problematic despite diet and exercise. If your body does not have the testosterone it needs, even if you diet properly and exercise vigorously there's a reasonable chance you won't make any progress; in-fact, there's a decent chance you'll even gain more body-fat as testosterone is truly that important. Further, when the hormone is low and left low for long periods of time it can lead to many far more serious conditions. Low levels of the primary androgen are often gateways to diabetes, osteoporosis, infertility and even Alzheimer's disease has been linked as well as a host of other serious conditions.
This should give you a clear understanding as to why testosterone is such an important hormone, and as the only means to treat the condition is by supplementing with an exogenous form we need to look at exogenous testosterone. When we examine exogenous testosterone, we are also entering into the world of performance enhancement, as this is the primary anabolic androgenic steroid, and the one most commonly used by performance enhancers. This shouldn't be too hard to understand, when we look at the important roles the hormone plays on mass and strength as well as our overall physical condition. As we transition into this phase of our discussion it will be more performance driven as we go along.
Obviously testosterone has always existed; after all, it is a naturally produced hormone. Even in ancient times the power and benefits of this hormone were understood. No, it is unlikely individuals from this time period knew why it was beneficial, they simply knew it was. During the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece athletes would regularly consume raw animal testicles in preparation for competition; as testosterone is produced in the testicles, although they may or may not have understood what they were doing they did understand there was a benefit to be had.
Over the years, especially during the 1800's and early 1900's testicular extract became a commonly used in medical practice but it would be in the 1930's that exogenous testosterone would be born and the age of anabolic androgenic steroids would begin. In 1931, German chemist Adolf Butenandt extracted androstenone from urine and following in his footsteps in 1934 Leopold Ruzicka developed a means to synthesize the hormone. Through the work of Butenandt and Ruzicka, the ability to isolate hormones and safely synthesize them for human use had been found, and shortly after the very first batch of testosterone would be made.
In 1935, announced in a paper "On Crystalline Male Hormone from Testicles (Testosterone)" Karoly Gyula David, E. Dingemanse, J. Freud and Ernst Laqueur, the first batch of testosterone was announced to the world. This breakthrough in medical science was deemed so noteworthy that both Butenandt and Ruzicka received the Nobel Prize for their work in 1939, and as such, testosterone in its purest form was now available to the masses. When we look at where we are today, and how anabolic androgenic steroids are understood, it's hard to imagine anyone being awarded for steroidal work. Even so, when we look at where we are today there are many obvious flaws in our general perception, but that is a discussion best served for another day.
When the testosterone hormone was first brought to the shelf it was quickly available in pure testosterone form (ester free) and the small ester version Testosterone-Propionate; since that time numerous other forms have followed. All-in-all the most common forms of testosterone that are still available today include:
Of the six common forms of testosterone, all are comprised of the same identical testosterone hormone; the difference resides the in the ester(s) or in the case of Testosterone-Suspension the lack thereof. Once in the body, the testosterone hormone performs and functions in the same manner regardless of the form used, but there are differences based on the mode of action, in-terms of initial delivery and total active duration. This can largely be understood by examining and understanding the particular ester(s) attached, as this determines the particular forms half-life; however, there is one more difference worthy of note and we'll discuss it shortly.
The half-life of these testosterone forms is determined by the size of the ester(s) attached; the larger the ester the longer the half-life. The longer the half-life, the longer the steroid will remain active in the body; conversely, the shorter the half-life, the smaller the ester the faster it will activate once in the body. Further, the testosterone's ester also affects the total mass of the compound. For example, the larger the ester the more mass it takes up and as such the more it takes up in the total milligram dosing. To provide insight let's look at Testosterone-Cypionate, a large ester base form and Testosterone-Propionate, a short ester base form. When we inject 100mg of Testosterone-Cypionate 69.9mg will be that of active testosterone hormone; conversely when we inject 100mg of Testosterone-Propionate 83.72mg will be that of active testosterone. In truth, while this is a worthy and an interesting note it is also insignificant, as total doses can be adjusted with any form in-order to provide the same total testosterone dosing.
Where ester size truly becomes worthy of consideration, is when planning out administration of the hormone. The smaller the ester, the shorter the half-life, the more frequently the hormone will need to be administered in-order to maintain peaked and stable levels of testosterone. Granted, depending on the purpose of use, therapeutic or performance, injection frequency can vary, but it remains short ester forms must be injected more frequently, and this basis is determined by half-life. The half-life of the six common testosterone forms is as follows:
• Testosterone-Cypionate: Approximately 12 days
• Testosterone-Enanthate: Approximately 10.5 days
• Testosterone-Propionate: Approximately 4 days
• Testosterone-Suspension: Approximately 24hrs or less
• Sustanon-250: Approximately 18 days
• Omnadren: Approximately 15 days
To understand the half-life of a particular testosterone the simplest way is to look at the large ester form Testosterone-Cypionate with a half-life of approximately 12 days. When we inject 100mg of Testosterone-Cypionate, after 12 days have passed there will be 50mg of compound left in our system. After the next following 12 days have passed, there will be 25mg of active compound left, then 12.5 and so on until the hormone has completely dissipated. Of course, this is assuming only one 100mg injection has been performed, and while this example provides a basic understanding, one injection over such a long time frame is never the case medicinally or performance driven.
The benefits of testosterone can largely be defined by the symptoms of low testosterone except in the opposite direction, and it is for this purpose the hormone is most commonly used in medical practice; but what about performance? The basic premise behind testosterone use among performance enhancers is to substantially increase total levels, thereby providing more muscle mass and strength, as well as a physique that holds such traits at a leaner, lower body-fat. By this action, the individual also greatly increases performance abilities thereby making testosterone perfect for visual effects as well as practical. The next question, the only question, is how does it work? The testosterone hormone carries many traits, and in the name of performance, the basis of these traits is defined by the following:
• Increases Nitrogen Retention in the Muscles
• Increases Protein Synthesis
• Increases Red Blood Cell Count
• Increases Total Metabolic Activity
• Decreases Glucocorticoid Steroids (Muscle Wasting Hormones)
• Increases IGF-1 Production
These are the basic traits of testosterone in-regards to why a performance enhancer might supplement; of course based on the effects of low testosterone they can be very useful too. Through these traits, we are able to build more muscle with less body-fat; we are able to lose more body-fat while preserving more muscle tissue. Further, we are able to perform at a higher level of efficiency as our recovery time is cut down tremendously. All-in-all testosterone provides everything any performance enhancer could ever be after regardless of their purpose and individual goals.
When we supplement with testosterone there are adverse side-effects that may occur. Such side-effects are rarely a concern due to medical use as doses will not be high enough; for example, in the treatment of low testosterone you are only replacing what you no longer produce but in the case of performance you are enhancing the total amount beyond what can be naturally produced. By its nature, the testosterone hormone aromatizes thereby causing a buildup of estrogen in the body. Due to the aromatase effect the following side-effects may occur:
• Excess Water Retention
• High LDL Cholesterol
• Low HDL Cholesterol
• High Blood Pressure
To combat such side-effects, many performance enhancers will find Aromatase Inhibitors (AI's) to be invaluable. AI's do exactly what their name implies; they inhibit the aromatase process. As aromatase is now inhibited, so is the buildup of estrogen; further, by their nature AI's actively reduce the total amount of estrogen in the body. As such, what does not exist cannot cause a problem.
Of course, AI's are not the only solution. To begin, supplementing with responsible doses will always be your best friend. The higher the dose the greater the reward can be, but the higher the dose goes the more risk increases. Further, living a healthy lifestyle that is blood pressure and cholesterol friendly will greatly serve you in this arena. Ensuring you consume plenty of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, avoiding large quantities of saturated fat and anything else that might have a negative impact will serve you well. Truth be told, and yes, it is the absolute truth, testosterone can be used in the name of performance very safely by healthy adult men, but understanding the side-effects and what you can do about them coupled with responsible use is the ultimate key to success.
You may have noticed there was one side-effect often mentioned when discussing testosterone that was absent from our list, and that was done for a reason. The side-effects listed above are not guaranteed the side-effects listed above are possible and completely avoidable with proper use; however, there is one side-effect or grouping that is absolutely assured. When we supplement with testosterone, or any anabolic steroid our natural testosterone production is suppressed. For the low testosterone patient, this is meaningless as he is already deficient in the hormone. Nevertheless, when we supplement our natural production comes to a halt, of course, as we are now providing the hormone exogenously the body is till receiving what it needs. Even so, due to this natural suppression, as testosterone is produced in the testicles, with the presence of exogenous testosterone our testicles will atrophy. As production has stopped the testicles will lose some of their fullness; no, they will not shrivel up and disappear, they'll simply lose some of their fullness. Once use is discontinued, again, we're referring to performance, natural production will begin again once the hormone has dissipated and the testicles will return to their normal size.
The truth is simple; testosterone is one of the more remarkable hormones on earth and essential to our quality of life and well-being. For the man who suffers from low testosterone, simple testosterone therapy can bring his zest and zeal for life back in roaring fashion, and for the performance enhancer, for this individual there's almost nothing it can't do.
As a hormone that is natural to the body, testosterone is one of the most well-tolerated anabolic steroids we have available and one of the easiest to control. While there are possible side-effects due to use, they are largely avoidable when supplementation is performed by responsible and healthy adult men. Before you begin any supplemental program for any reason, you are encouraged to ensure you are healthy enough for use, and always encouraged to be responsible when you do. Testosterone and anabolic steroids in general often carry a negative connotation due to those who abuse the hormones, and such individuals only punish the rest who only desire to supplement with the hormone in the safest manner possible and receive the numerous benefits held within.