We have found out that testosterone is the juice that makes one a man. Fetuses, when exposed to testosterone, lean toward mannishness. Depending on the author, this process has been described as anywhere from a testosterone soak, bath, wash, or marinade to the more cataclysmic labels of surge, flood, cascade, or tsunami.
During the cultural wars regarding whether gender identification and behavior was learned, innate, or just a big confused mess, testosterone held a special place in the arsenal. If the direction of an embryo is toward the female, then the appearance of testosterone can be said to shove embryonic development off its default course. Some equated the male propensity for aggression and general stupidity as stemming from this initial rush of testosterone. As a consequence, socializing males would require perhaps more stronger lessons in empathy and caring before men could be led back to their pre-testosterone potential.
All of this may be moot. Testosterone, as a natural resource, seems to be shrinking. Recent research has suggested that overall levels of testosterone among otherwise healthy men had been steadily declining over the past two decades. Why this is occurring is unclear. Synthetic estrogens and antiandrogens, commonly found in insecticides, pesticides, and industrial chemicals, may be the culprit.
Given its nefarious nature, one would assume that most men would be pleased to avoid testosterone just as they do shoe shopping, prostate exams, or Lamaze classes. Yet, men do not see testosterone as evil. Quite the opposite.
We love the stuff. It’s what makes us, well, us. Too much is never enough.
But, not to worry, pharmaceutical companies are coming to your rescue and are scrambling to promote synthetic testosterone as a viable remedy for the manly problem of droopy drawers.
Men, testosterone, and pharmaceutical companies. Sounds safe to me. What could go wrong?
- Thomas G. Travison, T.G., Araujo, A. B., O’Donnell, A. B., Kupelian, V., & McKinlay, J. B. (2007). A population-level decline in serum testosterone levels in American men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism,92,196-202.