Salvo 03.01.2022 10 minutes

The Decline is Real

Single Sperm cell

Plummeting testosterone levels will destroy society.

Men today have considerably less testosterone than men of the same age even a single generation ago. I’m not talking figuratively, like your boomer uncle might. I mean it: men today really do have considerably less testosterone than men of the same age even a single generation ago.

As part of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, data were gathered on 1500 randomly selected men in the Boston area, in three separate periods spanning 17 years (1987-1989, 1995-97 and 2002-2004). Various biomarkers were measured, including levels of total testosterone as well as bioavailable testosterone – testosterone that can actually be used by the body. A 2007 study of the testosterone data showed that both total and bioavailable levels of testosterone decreased by 12% and 13% respectively each year, amounting to a 20.4% and a 22.1% decrease across the total span of the study.

These results are not a one-off; similar population-level declines have been observed across the Western world. To some scientists, such as those behind a 2012 study of Finnish men in the European Journal of Endocrinology, this has come as a real surprise. The researchers in the Finnish case noted that Finnish men scored comparatively well in studies of reproductive health, such as semen quality, instances of cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), and testicular cancer, and so thought they were unlikely to have suffered the significant decline seen in the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. What the researchers found, though, was a generational decline in testosterone levels that was just as significant, if not worse.

Master Hormone

Testosterone is the master male hormone and governs the masculinization process that occurs first in the womb and then during adolescence. Male processes governed by testosterone include the development of the penis and testes; deepening of the voice; the growth of facial and pubic hair; muscular and bone development; and libido and sperm production. Mood is also heavily dependent on testosterone levels. It’s likely that there are other functions governed by testosterone that we don’t yet know about.

The production of testosterone in men is regulated via the brain’s pituitary gland, which sends signals to the testes to produce testosterone. Levels of the hormone are closely regulated by a feedback loop. If testosterone levels are too high, the brain sends signals to the pituitary gland to reduce production.

Though men typically have much more testosterone than women, and women typically have much more estrogen than men, men and women need both testosterone and estrogen for their bodies to function properly. In men, estrogen has important roles to play in erectile function and libido, bone health, brain function, and lipid and skin metabolism; having low estrogen can be a very serious problem for men, just as it can be for women.

So if testosterone is what makes men men, and testosterone levels are decreasing, does that mean society as a whole is becoming less masculine? A society that’s becoming less masculine is a society that’s on the wane. Weak men create hard times and all that—Q.E.D., right?

That’s certainly the story as it might be told in a 4chan greentext. I’d be inclined to agree with you that, yes, the decline in testosterone is an intimate part of the “clownworld” madness that we’re living through today. Soy boys. Simps. Plant-based lifestyles. Polyamory. Incels. Furries. Et cetera… honk honk!

But as compelling as we might find the clownworld explanation, distinguishing cause and effect is hard. Is the society-wide decline in testosterone a cause of clownworld or a symptom? It’s probably impossible to know, given the complexity and number of factors involved. The relationship between observable behavior and hormone levels is hard enough to establish in laboratory conditions, let alone in the outside world. The more complex the phenomenon, the more multifarious the causes.

Swimming Upstream

But while the interplay of biology and culture is complicated there can be little doubt that the decline in testosterone indicates we’re becoming far less healthy across the West. The decline in testosterone has been linked to rising obesity levels, increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and growing exposure to harmful gender-bending chemicals. Shanna Swan, a reproductive health expert at Mount Sinai in New York, claims in her book Count Down that mankind is heading for a fertility crisis of such a magnitude that it could be as much of a threat to the species as climate change or (say) the release of a man-made bioweapon.

According to Swan, in less than 25 years the majority of men are going to be unable to reproduce. If existing data are extrapolated (a 59% decrease in the sperm levels of the average Western man between 1973 and 2011), by 2045 the sperm levels of the median man will have reached zero. What this means is that half of all men will produce absolutely no sperm at all, while the other half will produce so little as to be functionally sterile. No sperm = no babies = no future. This worst-case scenario has already been dubbed “spermageddon” in the press.

Swan points the finger of blame at our growing exposure to endocrine-disrupting (i.e. hormone-disrupting) chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A. These chemicals are ubiquitous in the modern world. Plastics, electronic equipment, packaging, pesticides, cosmetics, and personal hygiene products all contain chemicals that are known to interfere with the body’s hormonal balance, usually by mimicking the effects of natural estrogen. These chemicals are also known as “xenoestrogens.” By upsetting the natural balance of testosterone and estrogen in men’s (and women’s) bodies, these chemicals are causing all manner of reproductive defects, ranging from malformed genitals to sperm that can’t swim properly. Here, then, is a very clear reason we should be concerned, not just as individuals but also as a society, about the decline of testosterone.

Get Some

Societally the question is fraught, but on an individual level, there’s no doubt that having low testosterone is a nightmare for a man. If you’ve got some time, browse Reddit’s “r/lowT” thread and read a few testimonials of men experiencing fatigue, depression, malaise, and diminished sex drive.

To be a low-T man and finally experience normal testosterone levels is, quite literally, to experience a reawakening. I do everything I do—advocating for men to take control of their lives, eat properly and work out—precisely because the opposite—being a flabby low-T man with no self-control and a rotten self-image—is such a terrible and common life for men to lead these days. Who in the mainstream is telling young men that a better version of themselves is not only within their grasp but also that they should be ashamed if they choose not to reach for it? If the dissident right has a unique selling point, something that distinguishes it from all the other political options, it has to be the benefits of self-discipline. It’s amazing that we’ve reached the point where self-discipline should be the new edgy counterculture, but that’s where clownworld has led us.

If you’re worried about having low testosterone yourself, the simplest way to find out is to visit a doctor and have a blood panel taken. But even if you do have low testosterone, you don’t necessarily then need a prescription for exogenous testosterone (testosterone replacement therapy), unless you have an illness or there’s a congenital reason for you having low-T. In fact, there’s absolutely no reason why you won’t be able to raise your testosterone levels well out of the red simply by getting in shape—and by that I mean especially lifting weights—getting on top of your diet, and getting enough rest (one study suggested that you can double your testosterone levels simply by improving your sleep quality).

A society or civilization that is unable to reproduce itself is in deep trouble. But curing the testosterone deficiency problem really starts with the individual. Bucking the clownworld tendency to eat bad food, sit on the couch, and bask in the light of glowing rectangles for half the day demands a certain degree of self-directed fortitude, but the effects on your hormonal system are worth it.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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