Men used to seem bigger back in the day. They also seemed more confident, and they had a swag in their step. Some people agree that they don’t make them like they used to any longer, but what are the factors responsible for the changes we can observe in men today when we’re comparing them with those born in the past few decades?
Well, scientists don’t know for sure what brought these changes in the current male population, but their studies seem to indicate that males nowadays have lower testosterone levels than their ancestors had.
What Is Testosterone?
To understand how testosterone levels can affect male behavior, we must first understand what testosterone is, and what it does in the body. Well, most people know that testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males and that it’s primarily secreted by the testicles. However, fewer people know that testosterone is a steroid that has anabolic and virilising effects. While these effects are interrelated and often overlapping, they can be described separately.
- Anabolic Effects – They include but are not limited to the increase in bone density and bone maturation, the growth of muscle mass, height increase, and strength growth.
- Virilising Effects – Also known as androgenic effects, they include but are not limited to the maturation of the sex organs and the development of the secondary sex characteristics. These secondary sex characteristics are different for every male, but they include the deepening of the voice and the growth of facial, abdominal, pubic and axillary hair, among other things.
Testosterone also plays a crucial role in a man’s sex drive. Scientists consider that testosterone is the fuel for the sex drive and that it can also influence a man’s sexual performance.
Lastly, testosterone influences a man’s behavior as well. Men who don’t naturally produce enough testosterone experience a substantial decline in fatigue, depression, and negative mood, while experiencing a boost in their self-esteem when they take testosterone replacements. However, men who expose themselves to extreme doses of testosterone can develop bouts of aggression, depressive episodes, and irritability.
Why is muscularity becoming less common?
So, what changed? How did the current generations of men fall so far from their ancestors?
Well, one of the reasons men no longer seem so manly as the previous generations is that they produce less testosterone than their ancestors.
Testosterone production naturally declines with age, but studies suggest that men nowadays produce less testosterone because of their life choices. Only a few studies have tracked the testosterone levels of the same men over time, but their results are quite surprising.
A study conducted in the USA over a period of 20 years found out that the testosterone levels of men of the same age were lower over time. The testosterone levels of men in 2004 dropped by up to 17% compared to those of the men in 1987. For example, 60-year-olds in 2004 had a testosterone concentration 13% lower than 60-year-olds in 1987. However, unlike the previous studies we presented, the findings of this study weren’t correlated with any other indicators, such as weight, body mass index, marital status, or whether or not the men were smokers.
Studies and Recent testosterone trends
A study that took place in Australia tracked the testosterone levels of 1,382 men over a period of five years. The men’s ages ranged from 35 -80, with an average of 54. The scientists found out that the testosterone levels decreased by less than 1% per year, but when they sorted the results into subgroups, they found out the following. Men who became obese in this period has a more significant decrease of testosterone levels. This was also true for men who became depressed after the trial started, and surprisingly, for those who have quit smoking.
Scientists also found out that married men had higher testosterone levels than single men, and they associated this finding with the fact that married men had sex more frequently. Previous studies have shown that sex leads to an increase in testosterone levels.
Other studies have also linked obesity and depression with low testosterone levels, and quitting smoking is more beneficial for the body than the slight testosterone decrease it produced.
Another study conducted in Europe had similar findings. The survey analyzed the testosterone levels of 2,736 men aged 40 – 79 and compared them with the levels measured after a period of 4.4 years. The study’s results show that men who gained weight experienced a decrease in testosterone levels, while men who lost weight experienced a proportional increase. The men who lost or gained more than 15% of their body weight noticed a significant change in testosterone levels.
The study concluded that weight management seems to be very important in maintaining the circulating testosterone levels in aging men and that obesity-associated changes in testosterone levels are reversible following a weight reduction.
What Does It Mean?
Testosterone production is influenced by your body weight, but other factors such as being a smoker or being depressed can also influence it. Even though quitting smoking can slightly lower your testosterone production, the beneficial effects of not smoking are more important. But we cant blame these factors for the fall of testosterone in the past few decades.
All the studies had enough candidates to provide relevant results, and their results are similar. It appears that men nowadays produce less testosterone than their ancestors. There are common trends today that result in low testosterone but we cant ideally blame these factors for the trend over the past few decades.
No one really knows if there is one specific answer to the rapid decline in testosterone levels over the decades. Studies have shown it is not obesity related nor smoking related as smoking averages have declined.
Recent scientific and medical studies have suggested that preservatives and pesticides found in many refined and processed foods are the major culprits. Other malefactors are the hormone pellets, usually containing synthetic estrogens fed to cattle, pork, fish and poultry. These hormones once ingested act as “hormonal disruptors” in the human body. Based on the low sperm counts, male infertility, obesity and low serum testosterone seen in younger men, this could be the case.
Today’s generations of men are not as manly as those of the past, and that might be entirely their fault. The men of the past had to work hard to sustain their families, and most often than not, that meant hard physical labor which kept them in shape also they had less processed foods and fresh foods contained less harmful testosterone killing chemicals. Men nowadays work as well, but their work is no longer physical so they tend to gain weight. Gaining weight will lower your testosterone production, and losing weight will increase it, so you have to stay fit if you want to have a good testosterone concentration.
I have many recommendations on how men can reclaim their testosterone levels, feel free to check out our testosterone section of this website.