The Declining Virility of Men and the Importance of Testosterone

At the end of last August I decided to start an experiment on naturally increasing my testosterone levels. Kate and I had just finished a month-long series called Heading Out on Your Own: 31 Life Skills in 31 Days. We cranked out a 2,000-4,000 word post every day for 31 days straight. Writing over 75,000 words in less than a month was physically and emotionally taxing on both of us. We were hardly sleeping, were eating like crap, and our workouts became spotty. On top of that, we were stressed to the max.

Knowing a bit about the link between testosterone and a person’s health habits, I had a suspicion my T-levels would be in the tank. Curious, I got myself tested at a lab here in Tulsa.

My suspicion was confirmed.

I had below average testosterone levels.

My total testosterone was 383 ng/dL, which is near the bottom of the reference range of the lab I used.

My free testosterone (testosterone available for your body to use) was 7.2 pg/mL, which is below the reference range. According to many websites, I was a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy.


After recovering from the shock that I had such puny amounts of the virile serum floating through my bloodstream, I got busy crafting a plan on how I was going to raise my testosterone in a natural way. I wanted to see how making some simple, long-term lifestyle changes would affect my T-levels. I gave myself 90 days to see what sort of results my efforts would produce.

Three months later, I got tested again.

Total Testosterone: 778 ng/dL

Free Testosterone: 14.4 pg/mL

I had doubled my testosterone.

But is it really that big a deal? Does testosterone really make the man?

Why You Should Care About Your Testosterone Levels

Forget what you think you know about testosterone for a minute. Try to scrub your mind of juiced-up bodybuilding bros in the gym or paunchy middle-age men rubbing prescription gel on their soft bellies.

The subject of testosterone has picked up some unfortunate associations recently, but in reality it’s something every man should understand and be concerned about – whether he’s an egghead or a jock, a grandpa or a college student.

How so? A man is more than his hormones, right? Doesn’t being a man mean stuff like taking responsibility, working hard, and having integrity?

Sure. But do you know who else takes responsibility and works hard? Women.

When we defined manliness, we said that men and women share many of the same virtues, but often attain and express them in different ways. The metaphor we used was that of two different musical instruments, playing the exact same notes, but producing two different sounds – each which adds rich music to the world.

Testosterone is what shapes the form of your instrument – your body and mind – and the “sound” it makes. And for a long time now, there’s been a lot more flutes in the orchestra than tubas. The notes being played remain the same, but the music’s gotten a whole lot less brassy.

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