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TESTOSTERONE (T for short)

Testosterone is the hormone that is most directly linked to libido in both men and women. It is also known as the primary sex hormone in men, and causes voices to deepen and facial hair to grow. T is associated with increased risk taking or adventure behavior, and agressiveness.

I have long thought that the populations of men and women that I worked with on the river had high levels of testosterone, because of their adventurous nature. We used to joke often about a condition we called testosterone poisoning, which was characterized by heroic feats of strength and often resulted in injury. Deeds done while under the influence of T poisoning show a general lack of long term perspective.

I would guess that I have higher than average T levels. I am tall, muscular, aggressive and lusty. I have narrow hips and big shoulders. Men's pants fit me. But I'm a woman. I'm pretty sure.

Men with high testosterone levels can be spotted across the room. The hormone causes them to develop a wolfish look in the face, with a strong jaw, brow and cheekbones. That guy who looks like a wolf IS a wolf. High T levels also can be seen in the physique because T increases muscle mass and causes a higher shoulder width to hip width ratio, as well as greater height. Women tend to be more sexually attracted to men of this appearance, though they may not know why. A high T level correlates with virility and athletic ability.



THE TAL FEATURE ON T (is excellent)

This American Life (TAL) is a weekly show on NPR. It is produced by Alex Blumberg and hosted by Ira Glass. They did a full hour program on testosterone. Ira Glass is a wonderful interviewer because he is completely nonjudgemental. He is able to talk openly with so many different kinds of people that his program is always educational. This program on testosterone was split into several acts, as TAL generally is. I have this show on cassette tape, and you can download it from the internet if you're interested.

http://www.thislife.org/ Episode 220 8/30/02

Act One was an interview with a man who lived entirely without T for medical reasons. His experience was a spiritual one, a sense of unity and the repeated sensation that things were "beautiful".

Act Two was an interview with a dyke who got a sex change operation to become a man. When she was a she, she was very hip and cool. When she became a he, and started taking T to cause secondary sex characteristics (such as facial hair) to be expressed, the mental changes were unexpected. He explained how previous to taking the hormone, he'd admire a beautiful woman. After taking the hormone, the admiration changed to a craving that was more powerful than anticipated. He described walking down the street behind a lovely woman, and enjoying the view of her backside. Then when he passed her on the sidewalk, he had an internal battle. Before the sex change it would have been cool for her to look at the other woman, but when he was a man, it was no longer edgy or cool. He was just a dog. In spite of labelling himself a dog for it, he just HAD TO look back and get a good look at the woman's front side. HAD TO.

Act Three is the capstone of the show. The entire radio production staff at WBEZ Chicago took a testosterone test. The type A woman in the group turned out to have the highest T, as expected by everyone. The sports-oriented macho man was appalled to find that his T level was lower than that of the gay guy on the staff. As you might guess, the exercise added some tension to a pretty openminded workplace.

Act Four is a woman's report about the development of her teenage son.

A THEORY ABOUT GAY MEN AND T

I theorize that if you were to test T levels in gay men around the globe, they would have a generally higher T level than heterosexual men. I think that high T levels increase the biological urge to to penetrate and fuck. The lovemaking scene in Brokeback Mountain brought this idea up again. There was no foreplay in that scene, just excitement and penetration. Men get it on with men because that's what they want. These high T men don't want foreplay, they want to ejaculate. The pressure inside them is so high, and women are so slow to be aroused, that it makes sense they would fuck each other. Perfect sense.

FACTOIDS ON T:

T levels decrease dramatically in men beginning around age 40, and continue to decrease with age. This is called "andropause". The reduction in T explains declining muscle mass in older men, even if they continue to exercise at the same level. There is a growing market in testosterone supplementation. Body builders are the leaders in supplementing T.

T levels increase in men in the springtime. This increase is related to a decrease in melatonin, which is suppressed by daylight. (NPR)

T is made from cholesterol (so you don't want to reduce it too far!).

Alchoholism and liver disease decrease T levels.

Anticonvulsants, barbiturates, and clomiphene can cause T levels to rise.

Too much testosterone in the womb blights the social skills of the infant: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4981

An excellent wide-ranging article on the hormone: http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/testost/story.htm

Effects
-increased muscle mass & strength
-increased height growth
-increased bone mass
-speeded bone maturation
-acne
-body odor
-increased libido
-increased frequency of erections
-sperm production in men
-pubic hair in teenage boys and girls
-voice lowering in boys and girls
-facial hair
-chest hair
-hips narrow, ribs & shoulders widen
-growth of adam's apple
-mental and physical energy

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