Testosterone plays a crucial role in several aspects of our ongoing health, including muscular development, reproductive health, cognitive function, and emotional wellbeing. It’s a hormone, produced primarily in men’s testes and, to a far lesser extent, in women’s ovaries.
We often associate it with masculinity and physical strength, with a great deal of justification – it is indeed largely responsible for these things. However, it also does so much more – it plays a central role in dizzying range of health and wellbeing factors, so if we’re running low we sure would feel it.
7 benefits of optimal testosterone levels
These benefits are wide-ranging and profound. Get your testosterone levels to where they need to be (optimised hopefully to around 30 nmol/L or thereabouts) and you will see some breathtaking health benefits kicking in.
These include, but are far from limited to, the following:
Research is pretty conclusive on this one – men with optimal testosterone levels tend to have better overall health and longer lifespans compared to those with low testosterone levels.
This may be indirect – it’s unlikely that testosterone itself is keeping you alive. Rather, this effect is likely due to its positive and cumulative effects on various aspects of health (see below).
High testosterone levels have been associated with improved cardiovascular health, including lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk factors for heart disease, and better regulation of blood pressure, amongst plenty more. These factors contribute to a decreased risk of cardiovascular events and lead to greater longevity.
In addition, testosterone plays a vital role in maintaining bone density and muscle mass, both of which are key to overall health and functionality. By reducing the risk of fractures and age-related muscle loss, high testosterone levels can keep you active for longer, which will amplify those cardiovascular benefits whilst keeping you spry and young.
Furthermore, testosterone has been linked to mental wellbeing. I’ve personally experienced low levels before, and it led to increased depression and anxiety symptoms, with a greatly diminished drive (this latter is very out of character – in general, I’m a very driven person).
Higher T-levels are associated with better mood, reduced risk of depression, and increased feelings of happiness. After going through the process of optimising my own testosterone levels, those negative effects diminished and I did indeed feel happier, calmer, and more focused. Needless to say, mental wellbeing is an important factor in overall health and longevity.
While testosterone alone may not be the sole indicator of longevity, maintaining optimal levels of testosterone through a healthy lifestyle and regular medical check-ups can play a significant role in promoting overall health and potentially extending lifespan.
We need normal to high testosterone levels if we want to keep our bones in good shape, as testosterone plays a crucial role in maintaining bone health and density in men. It plays a role in osteoblast production, the bone-forming cells which contribute to the building and remodelling of bone tissue.
One of the main benefits of high testosterone levels is the prevention of conditions like osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is characterised by weakened and brittle bones, which can lead to far more fractures and breaks, especially as we age.
As well as this, testosterone plays a role in regulating the balance between bone formation and bone resorption, a natural process during which old bone is broken down to make way for new bone tissue.
Imbalances in this process can lead to decreased bone density and an increased risk of fractures, again, especially as we age. By maintaining optimal testosterone levels, you can support the proper functioning of this bone remodelling process and ensure better bone health.
Muscle strength and mass
Testosterone is intimately linked with muscle mass, hypertrophy (the creation of new muscle tissue), and overall strength and athleticism. Many athletes abuse it by taking exogenous sources of testosterone to aid their performance. Bodybuilders often use it when crafting their physiques.
This is because higher testosterone levels have been consistently linked to increased muscle strength and the development of lean muscle mass in men. Testosterone plays a key role in protein synthesis, the process by which the body builds and repairs muscle tissue.
When testosterone levels are optimal, protein synthesis is enhanced, leading to the growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass.
I certainly found this to be the case. My strength leapt up from a plateau when I optimised my own levels (naturally, I might add, and within healthy bounds). I began to put on more muscle as the training I was taking part in began to actually be able to have an effect.
There are more athletic advantages at play to keeping your testosterone high within healthy bounds. It can enhance functional mobility, balance, and overall muscular endurance, improving overall athletic capability whilst also reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
Stronger muscles also support proper posture and joint stability, potentially reducing the incidence of joint pain and age-related degenerative conditions.
Testosterone plays an important role in the body’s fat distribution. Men with higher testosterone levels tend to have lower overall body fat, with the fat they do have being distributed in a far healthier pattern.
For example, higher testosterone levels should lead to a reduction in abdominal fat – fat around your midsection.
Abdominal fat, stored deep within your abdominal cavity around your internal organs, can be particularly harmful to your health. It has been closely tied to an increased risk from several chronic conditions, including the likes of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Testosterone helps to regulate fat metabolism and storage in the body. It promotes the breakdown of stored fat and inhibits new fat cell formation. Keeping your levels healthy and high should then lead to a decrease in overall body fat, diet and lifestyle dependent, especially around your midsection.
Reducing abdominal fat is essential for maintaining metabolic health and reducing the risk of obesity-related health conditions. Keeping your testosterone levels healthy and high is a key part of this.
I changed little about my training plan and diet (which were both pretty good and well geared towards healthy body composition) when shifting my emphasis into promoting high testosterone levels, and I felt the difference very quickly. My midsection slimmed down and firmed up, which is exactly what you want for long-term health.
Improved cognitive function and mental health
This is the big one. I mentioned it above, but it bears repeating – my cognitive function and mental wellbeing were atrocious before I set about optimising my testosterone levels. They have improved no end in the years since then.
Research has shown a potential link between higher testosterone levels and improved cognitive function. My own experience – and the experience of thousands, at least – bears this out.
There are testosterone receptors in several areas of the brain. These are involved in cognitive processes, including the likes of memory and attention. I felt swamped by brain fog when my levels were low, where nowadays things are clear and easy.
Testosterone may also play a role in promoting synaptic plasticity, which is crucial for learning and memory formation. We tend to lose this plasticity as we age, which can be dire. It also contributes to the growth and development of new neurons in the brain, a process known as neurogenesis. These two functions together should go a long way towards keeping your brain young as you age.
Testosterone also plays a role in mental health and wellbeing. Higher testosterone levels have been linked to better mood and reduced risk of depression. Testosterone has positive effects on neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is often associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
Again, things were pretty dire before I went through this process. I’m happier, calmer, more driven, and less lethargic this end of it.
Testosterone can also be very important for stress management another aspect of mental health. Hence, I am calmer now.
Research backs this up – it shows that higher testosterone levels may help you to cope with stress far more effectively, exactly as I found. Optimal testosterone levels have can enhance your resilience to, and reduce the negative impact of, stress and anxiety.
Enhanced libido and sexual function
Testosterone is a crucial hormone in regulating sexual health in both men and women. In men, testosterone is primarily produced in the testes and is responsible for various aspects of sexual function.
One of the main benefits of higher testosterone levels is an enhanced libido, commonly known as sex drive. Testosterone stimulates sexual arousal and desire, making a significant contribution to a healthy sexual appetite. Individuals with higher testosterone levels tend to experience a greater desire for sexual activity.
Testosterone also plays a role in maintaining erectile function. It helps promote the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that widens blood vessels and improves blood flow to the genital area.
Sufficient blood flow is vital for achieving and maintaining an erection. Therefore, higher testosterone levels can contribute to better erectile function and sexual performance.
Additionally, testosterone is involved in sperm production. It stimulates the development and maturation of sperm cells, which are essential for fertility. Adequate testosterone levels are necessary for healthy sperm production, improving the chances of successful reproduction.
However, it is important to note that while testosterone is a crucial hormone for sexual health, it is not the sole determinant. Other factors, such as psychological wellbeing, emotional connection with a partner, and overall physical health, also influence sexual function.
Maintaining optimal testosterone levels through a healthy lifestyle can contribute to enhanced libido and sexual function. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, stress management, and adequate sleep all play a part in optimising testosterone levels. Consulting with a healthcare professional can provide further guidance if there are concerns about sexual health or libido.
As we’ve seen, there is a link between testosterone levels and cardiovascular health – or, rather, there is some research suggesting a potential link between them.
One study found that men with higher testosterone levels had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Testosterone has been associated with several cardiovascular benefits, including improved lipid profile and reduced insulin resistance (it may play a role in regulating lipid metabolism).
Higher testosterone levels have also been linked with lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol, and triglycerides, which are all risk factors for heart disease. It promotes the breakdown and removal of harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Insulin resistance is another risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and testosterone may help improve insulin sensitivity. By enhancing insulin action, higher testosterone levels can contribute to better glucose control and reduced risk of developing diabetes.
However, many of the benefits that your cardiovascular health stands to experience from optimal testosterone are kind of tangential. You will find it easier to exercise, with more energy, more drive and focus, a greater ability to burn fat and put on muscle (which will give you impetus whilst also leading to greater athletic gains), and so on.
This should be pretty long term, too, keeping things in check as you age, and should all lead quite naturally to improved heart health for years to come.
From enhancing cognitive function and mental health to improving cardiovascular health and sexual function, optimising your testosterone levels, keeping them nice and high, can have plenty benefits.
There are plenty of ways of doing this. I’ve done them, experienced those higher testosterone levels, played the long game and benefitted from it.
I supplement well, taking some of the market’s leading natural testosterone boosters; I engage in resistance training alongside steady state cardio several times per week; I eat well, sleep plenty, and try to keep my stress and anxiety levels in check.
I feel better for doing so, and I will likely continue to feel better in the long run, as my forties approach and beyond.