A Real Man harnesses their hormones: Pt I


When you think of “masculinity,” what comes to mind? Clint Eastwood, blowing the smoke off his rifle? Don Draper, straightening his tie? Or maybe even Nelson Mandela, staring down injustice and inequality.There are literally hundreds of examples, but whatever you picture, it probably falls squarely within Webster’s framework:

“Having qualities—traditionally ascribed to men—as strength or boldness.” 

Historically, men have upheld this traditional brand of masculinity—yet, our modern world has begun to observe the slow ebb of it in our society. People prefer compromise over conviction, and bashfulness to boldness. You’ll find people who say our men have been emasculated; that we have lost a sense of what it even means to be a man. When this topic is discussed, it’s easy to get caught up in questions about how real this shift is, how permanent it is and whether or not it represents progress. And those are fair questions, but they avoid the biggest, most obvious question of all: why is it happening?

Masculinity / adj / : The manly traits that result from the right chemical and hormonal balance within a man’s body—specific to appropriate testosterone levels.

To answer that, I propose a new definition of masculinity. According to recent studies, 40% of men are victims of low testosterone. Furthermore, testosterone enhancement medication sales have increased by 300% percent over the last 10 years. The full impact of these numbers may be hard to grasp at first, so let’s discuss a few terms that will help you understand the full weight of the shift taking place—and what can be done about it.


Testosterone is a hormone produced primarily in the testicles. Testosterone helps maintain men’s:

  •  Bone density
  • Fat distribution
  • Muscle strength and mass
  • Red blood cell production
  • Sex drive
  • Sperm production

Obviously, these are all important factors to quality of life, but it goes even deeper than that. Testosterone drives two very male-specific attributes: confidence, and strength. The symptoms of low testosterone can erode a man’s confidence and self-esteem. Low T can sap energy and interfere with sexual performance.

“Testosterone is a hormone that has wide ramifications, both from a psychological and a physiological perspective,” said Natan Bar-Chama, MD, director of male repro- ductive medicine and surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. It’s the most important male sex hormone, responsible for helping the body produce and maintain masculine features.

So, low T is a serious problem and, as we’ve seen, a growing one. How do you re- store this important hormone and guarantee the confidence and strength that you need? Fortunately, it can be done with some basic lifestyle adjustments.

As men and women age, their T-levels naturally decline but this can accelerate faster than normal by the typical American lifestyle:

  • Chronic stress
  • Insufficient nutrition
  • Imbalanced microflora
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Weight gain
  • Inadequate exercise
  • Prescription drugs (especially statins)

All of these things are actually risk factors that deplete the normal immune response, lead to obesity and diabetes, tax the body and decrease metabolism. That all adds up to a recipe for low T-levels. Whether or not they know it, many men are stuck on the gerbil wheel, and they’re desperate to get off of the ride.

-Dr. Josh Axe