T Nation

Variation in Testosterone Levels

The fluctuations in testosterone levels among males (both those on TRT and not) is something I have not seen much research on. Specifically, what types of changes, both acute and chronic are seen in free and total testosterone levels from various things? This is a really complex issue, I know, but can we find a way to make some estimates?

I.E. -

How much do testosterone levels vary throughout the day? Highest in the morning, but how MUCH higher?

How much do natural test boosters like tribulus or Alpha Male affect levels? 50ng increase over weeks to months? 100ng? More? (total test) What factors influence?

What about TRT? (really complicated I know, just gotta throw it out there)

For both natural guys and guys on TRT, what is a significant increase? Is it relative? For instance, if a guy starts out with total Test in the 300 range, is an increase to 500 more substantial for him than for a guy who starts at 600 and goes to 800?

How much do levels rise from sex, victory in competition, and weight training?

If you seen an increase in your levels, how do quantify it subjectively? Put another way, an example would be your test was at 500, now it’s at 800. What was the difference in your quality of life, personality, energy, etc. i.e. what degrees of increase correspond with what.

I know it sounds like I’m attempting to simplify an insanely complex topic, but I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t done some digging here before…

I’m sure everyone here can benefit from this type of info.

[quote]SHARKinafishbowl wrote:
The fluctuations in testosterone levels among males (both those on TRT and not) is something I have not seen much research on. Specifically, what types of changes, both acute and chronic are seen in free and total testosterone levels from various things? This is a really complex issue, I know, but can we find a way to make some estimates?

I.E. -

How much do testosterone levels vary throughout the day? Highest in the morning, but how MUCH higher?
[/quote]

Look at table 3: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2007.07022.x/pdf

Read the last sentence of the abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1117056

[quote]SHARKinafishbowl wrote:

How much do levels rise from sex, victory in competition, and weight training?

[/quote]

Read study: http://www.zju.edu.cn/jzus/2003/0302/030219.pdf

[quote]SHARKinafishbowl wrote:

If you seen an increase in your levels, how do quantify it subjectively? Put another way, an example would be your test was at 500, now it’s at 800. What was the difference in your quality of life, personality, energy, etc. i.e. what degrees of increase correspond with what.
[/quote]

I’ve been tested with my total test levels anywhere between 481 and 687 and can not say I’ve noticed any difference. There are too many other factors to simply narrow down changes in mood, libido, erectile quality, etc to transient spikes in T.

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

[quote]SHARKinafishbowl wrote:

How much do levels rise from sex, victory in competition, and weight training?

[/quote]

Read study: http://www.zju.edu.cn/jzus/2003/0302/030219.pdf

[/quote]

All of the above is good stuff, liked this the best though. Thought I had read something mentioning this recently. Kinda gives creedance to the whole no sex before a boxing match thing (or I guess any physical competition, really)

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

[quote]SHARKinafishbowl wrote:

If you seen an increase in your levels, how do quantify it subjectively? Put another way, an example would be your test was at 500, now it’s at 800. What was the difference in your quality of life, personality, energy, etc. i.e. what degrees of increase correspond with what.
[/quote]

I’ve been tested with my total test levels anywhere between 481 and 687 and can not say I’ve noticed any difference. There are too many other factors to simply narrow down changes in mood, libido, erectile quality, etc to transient spikes in T.

If you don’t mind me asking - were you taking any sort of chemical assistance to see that swing? How about supplements? Seems like a pretty awesome shift…but then again maybe we all experience similar fluctuations without knowing it. My levels have always hovered around the same area WHEN I’ve tested them, that is (I’ve even done the math to get a proper comparison when doing tests with different ranges). Who knows about other times. Leaves a lot of room for both speculation and study, though.

[/quote]

I think my response to the comment landed in the quote box above, dunno if that was supposed to happen. I think we can figure it out though.

[quote]SHARKinafishbowl wrote:
If you don’t mind me asking - were you taking any sort of chemical assistance to see that swing? How about supplements? Seems like a pretty awesome shift…but then again maybe we all experience similar fluctuations without knowing it. My levels have always hovered around the same area WHEN I’ve tested them, that is (I’ve even done the math to get a proper comparison when doing tests with different ranges). Who knows about other times. Leaves a lot of room for both speculation and study, though.
[/quote]

No chemical assistance at all, not even an OTC test booster. The supplements I do take are totally unremarkable ie: fish oil, Vit D, etc.

The thing is, I don’t think it’s an awesome shift. I think it’s perfectly normal variation, but we tend to focus so intently on the number that we don’t see the forest for the trees.

The one article I posted showed a nearly %10 drop in TT just from morning until afternoon. Does this mean that if we all worked out in the AM, we’d build %10 more muscle, or build it %10 more quickly? I don’t think it does. I believe there are too many other variables that mediate protein synthesis, both directly and indirectly. For example, we know that cortisol is catabolic and is also highest in the AM.

Think of it this way. When on a cycle, people routinely see TT results of 3,000, 4,000, even 5,000 or levels %1000 higher than normal. Do they build %1000 greater muscle or at a rate %1000 greater than normal? No, of course not. Therefore, I believe that variation of %10 or %20 is nearly indistinguishable and that the effects on protein synthesis in vivo is unmeasurable for our purposes, ceteris paribus (that is, if we could theoretically hold everything else equal.)

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

[quote]SHARKinafishbowl wrote:
If you don’t mind me asking - were you taking any sort of chemical assistance to see that swing? How about supplements? Seems like a pretty awesome shift…but then again maybe we all experience similar fluctuations without knowing it. My levels have always hovered around the same area WHEN I’ve tested them, that is (I’ve even done the math to get a proper comparison when doing tests with different ranges). Who knows about other times. Leaves a lot of room for both speculation and study, though.
[/quote]

No chemical assistance at all, not even an OTC test booster. The supplements I do take are totally unremarkable ie: fish oil, Vit D, etc.

In spite of the fact that we think we may not notice differences in how we feel, I think the potential for a shift in levels to influence us in ways we are not aware (and then to create a positive feedback loop) is, at least, a cool idea. For instance, let’s say theoretically you look back on your week and you realize that you had a fucking AWESOME day on Wednesday. Well, sure there is a confluence of things probably at play here, but what if a lot of it was driven by testosterone? Maybe a combo of things caused an increased level, which made you feel confident/strong, which increased your level, which…(positive feedback loop).

Like I said probably above, I know I’m just isolating tesosterone here, but even if we expanded the perspective a bit and looked at all anabolic/androgenic hormones, it’d be intesting (although very hard to measure) how directly success/confidence correlates with those hormones.

We’ve all seen the studies about winning increasing levels and the theory (for humans and in other animals) is that victory makes the victors strong so that they can continue on and upward to see further victories and allow for natural selection to take place. Meanwhile, the loser experiences a downregulation of certain key hormones and these make them more inclined to take a break “sit on the sidelines” so to speak, so they can recover, not experience another immediate loss (that would really weaken them big time) and instead bid their time before getting out there again (or resign themselves with being “beta” for a while).

You gotta think that when you’re “on the ball” “in the zone” or just having a great series of life events, T is at play, and when you’re not, that slump you’re in isn’t helping your levels - and it’s a vicious cycle either way, for better or worse.
The thing is, I don’t think it’s an awesome shift. I think it’s perfectly normal variation, but we tend to focus so intently on the number that we don’t see the forest for the trees.

The one article I posted showed a nearly %10 drop in TT just from morning until afternoon. Does this mean that if we all worked out in the AM, we’d build %10 more muscle, or build it %10 more quickly? I don’t think it does. I believe there are too many other variables that mediate protein synthesis, both directly and indirectly. For example, we know that cortisol is catabolic and is also highest in the AM.

Think of it this way. When on a cycle, people routinely see TT results of 3,000, 4,000, even 5,000 or levels %1000 higher than normal. Do they build %1000 greater muscle or at a rate %1000 greater than normal? No, of course not. Therefore, I believe that variation of %10 or %20 is nearly indistinguishable and that the effects on protein synthesis in vivo is unmeasurable for our purposes, ceteris paribus (that is, if we could theoretically hold everything else equal.)
[/quote]

The last post above looks totally scrambled with my post lost in the one that I “quoted”…

In response to Dr. Pangloss’ last post, here’s my response, hopefully a little easier to decipher:

In spite of the fact that we think we may not notice differences in how we feel, I think the potential for a shift in levels to influence us in ways we are not aware (and then to create a positive feedback loop) is, at least, a cool idea. For instance, let’s say theoretically you look back on your week and you realize that you had a fucking AWESOME day on Wednesday. Well, sure there is a confluence of things probably at play here, but what if a lot of it was driven by testosterone? Maybe a combo of things caused an increased level, which made you feel confident/strong, which increased your level, which…(positive feedback loop).

Like I probably said above, I know I’m just isolating tesosterone here, but even if we expanded the perspective a bit and considered at all anabolic/androgenic hormones, it’d be intesting (although very hard to measure) how directly success/confidence correlates positively with those hormones.

We’ve all seen the studies about winning increasing levels and the theory (for humans and in other animals) is that victory makes the victors strong so that they can continue on and upward to see further victories and allow for natural selection to take place. Meanwhile, the loser experiences a downregulation of certain key hormones and these make them more inclined to take a break “sit on the sidelines” so to speak, so they can recover, not experience another immediate loss (that would weaken them, possibly fatally so) and instead bide their time before getting out there again (or decide to resign themselves with being “beta” for a while).

You gotta think that when you’re “on the ball” “in the zone” or just having a great series of life events, T is at play, and when you’re not, that slump you’re in isn’t helping your levels - and it’s a vicious cycle either way, for better or worse.

I don’t know man, but I would have to say yes to the hypothetical question. Testosterone levels that high along with doing everything right will build absurd muscle mass in a very short amount of time. Compare that to a natural with levels in the 500 I honestly think the guy on the sauce will build LBM 10x faster.

[quote]SHARKinafishbowl wrote:

In spite of the fact that we think we may not notice differences in how we feel, …
… when you’re “on the ball” “in the zone” or just having a great series of life events, T is at play, and when you’re not, that slump you’re in isn’t helping your levels - and it’s a vicious cycle either way, for better or worse.
[/quote]

Without going into too much detail, I think much of what you attribute to steroid hormones is actually attributable to neutrotransmitters generally, and the dopaminergic system specifically. From wiki: Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including important roles in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, punishment and reward, inhibition of prolactin production (involved in lactation and sexual gratification), sleep, mood, attention, working memory, and learning.

Even daytime erections are more attributable to the dopaminergic system rather than T levels.

Rather than just copy-pasta-ing articles here and passing it off as my own, I’d encourage you to read more about dopamine and it’s effect on behavior. I think it’s much more interesting than T levels.

Dr. Pangloss - you make a good point above. Obviously, we can go as deep as we want with this stuff and make myriad connections to things we might not originally thought about. Of course, we’re talking about a highly complex system so, really, it’s kind of inevitable I suppose.

Per the neurotransmitters specifically, I know there are things that we can do to influence them, but what I’m interested in (which from what I’ve seen over and over isn’t possible) is how to get accurate, conclusive measurements of the levels in your body at a given time - or over a specific period.