We all know testosterone helps build muscle, spikes your sex drive, and at times leads to aggressive behavior. But there’s actually a lot more to this notorious muscle-builder. How much do you really know about this famed hormone? Check out these five shocking testosterone truths you probably didn’t know about.
1. It can help you lose weight
In some cases, men can drop belly fat when treated with testosterone. According to Health, men who were treated with the hormone showed signs of reduced abdominal obesity. In one study, men who received hormone replacement therapy lost an average of 35 pounds per year. While this treatment seems logical considering low testosterone is linked to obesity, many doctors believe more research needs to be done regarding the long-term effects of this treatment before they start nonchalantly dishing out testosterone therapy.
2. Low levels could leave you with the blues
Scientists have known for some time that testosterone plays a vital role in mental health — and individuals with low testosterone often experience depression. One recent study looked at 200 men with simply borderline-low levels of testosterone to see if even slightly low levels of testosterone could have negative effects. They found that depressive symptoms were present in 56% of subjects. While more research needs to be done regarding the connection between testosterone and depression, some scientists at UCLA have seen positive improvements in patients’ moods after testosterone replacement treatment.
3. Women have it, too
While testosterone may be associated primarily with men, women have the hormone, too! In fact, studies have shown that women have higher levels of testosterone for the first few months after a relationship starts compared to women who are single or in long-term relationships. So women who recently fell in love were filled with this hormone. Strangely, men show the opposite effect. Their testosterone levels are actually lower when they fall in love compared to single or long-term committed guys, at least based on this study. Granted, it was a relatively small sample size.
4. Higher testosterone makes you less greedy
Could high testosterone make you stingy? One study recently published in Nature put the power of testosterone to the test. In the experiment, female subjects participated in an “Ultimate Game,” which gave subjects the power to choose how to divide a sum of money between themselves and another player. Half the subjects were treated with testosterone, while the others received a placebo. The subjects who were given hormones ended up making more fair offers in the game than women who received a placebo. This is far from the results these women (and probably most of us) expected from an aggression-inducing hormone. But believe it or not, testosterone makes you just as generous as it does buff.
5. There is such a thing as too much testosterone
The more testosterone the better, right? Not quite. Excess testosterone has been linked to increased risk of diabetes and prostate enlargement, according to recent findings at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This study investigated the underlying cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or in simpler terms, prostate enlargement, which is the most common disease for aging men. In fact, by the time men hit 80, nearly 90% experience some form of this condition. To look for an underlying cause, researchers in this study looked at 350 men who showed no signs of BPH. The common factor? Lower levels of testosterone. So if you’re a guy who doesn’t ooze testosterone out of every pore, don’t feel too bummed out. You’ll be thankful later in life.