Updated: Jun 2
Loosely referred to as T, this small but powerful molecule has influenced culture and widely held beliefs in men for over a century now.
Time has moved on and much has changed, but common misconceptions and outdated attitudes about testosterone and its role in health continues to confuse people.
At DNA, we aim to educate and inform about all aspects of men’s health, particularly the very misunderstood subject of hormonal health. In this article, we attempt to demystify some of the long-term old-fashioned beliefs about testosterone and update the narrative by providing information about its vital role in men’s (and women’s) health in the modern world.
A Brief History Of Testosterone
The relationship between testes and masculinity is well documented historically and it’s no co-incidence that this is because 95% of testosterone is produced in the gonads (more commonly affectionately known as balls, nuts, nads and family jewels to name a few).
The history of castration goes back thousands of years. There is evidence of this taking place in animals and humans as far back as 4000BC. Castration was frequently used for religious or social reasons in certain cultures in Europe, South Asia, Africa, and East Asia. After battles, winners sometimes castrated their captives or the corpses of the defeated to symbolise their victory and seize their "power”.
Many centuries ago, farmers discovered that by removing male the testes on male animals, they would fatten up and become less aggressive this procedure which made this common practice. The realisation that testes were involved in some way with masculinity in humans and played a role in sexuality and virility was thereby ingrained in global societies hundreds of years ago. This led to a fascination with seeking elixirs and potions that would boost this amazing super-power in some way that has continued to modern day.
However, it wasn’t until far more recently that a name was found for the secret chemical that was responsible. The scientific search for this elusive magic substance ended when testosterone was discovered and isolated in the pre-war period.
Testosterone As We Know It Now
In 1935, three European scientists working independently announced the discovery of what we all now know to testosterone. German scientist, Adolf Butenandt and Yugoslavian chemist Ruzicka went on to receive the Nobel Prize for their work in 1939.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy became medically available in 1939 and this intervention strategy has grown significantly in recent years.
Despite men knowing that its testosterone that makes them men in the first place, there is still a lot of confusion about the role of testosterone, what it does and why it’s important.
The fact is testosterone impacts every system as the body works hard to stay in optimal wellness or “homeostasis”.
It’s important to maintain optimum levels of testosterone at all life stages to improve fertility and virility, combat symptoms of andropause, support good prostate health, and ultimately promote longevity and overall health and wellbeing.
MYTH 1: Testosterone Is Only Found In Men.
Labelling testosterone the male sex hormone (even though that’s what it is) suggests that it is restricted to men and is exclusive to them which isn’t overly beneficial to moving on the narrative to modern times.
Whilst it’s true that it the dominant male sex hormone (or androgen) found in much higher levels in men and, women produce testosterone in small doses (1/10 – 1/20th of the amount men produce). On the flip side of this, men too produce oestrogen, again, in smaller amounts than women.
But the one thing that is equal and remains constant between the sexes is how important hormonal balance is men’s and women’s health.
As with oestrogen (and progesterone) for women, testosterone plays a key role in optimal hormonal health in men. It’s the primary male sex hormone responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics.