Hacking Testosterone and Increasing Oxytocin

This post is a continuation of the ideas put forth in the post Hacking Hormones in a Relationship. On a hormonal basis women are becoming more masculine and men more feminine. After watching Dr. Gray’s video, I can now see that each change is a response to the other. As women are becoming more dominant, men are becoming more submissive, which lowers their testosterone and raises their estrogen levels.

The woman is now taking on more roles that produce testosterone, which increases her stress levels. Under normal situations, a male with a higher testosterone level could trigger oxytocin in the woman lowering her stress, but the estrogen-dominant male will either engage in “tit for tat” arguing or become further submissive. Neither will help lower the stress on the woman or himself. Stress levels build on both sides and this leads to compromised immune systems and poor health.

Dr. Gray’s lecture was targeted mostly towards couples and how they should interact with each other to produce optimal hormonal responses. But what about us single people? Before we fall into the role reversal trap which breaks up many relationships, we should get our own ducks in order.

Hacking Testosterone in Men

Prior to embracing the Paleo Diet, I could feel my testosterone levels declining a little each year. When I ditched the bread and tofu, I lost 3 inches of belly fat. Remember that belly fat in men produces estrogen which lowers testosterone levels. Although I’ve never had my testosterone measured, once that belly fat was gone I could feel my testosterone levels rising. I also diversified my diet with organ meats and devoted more time to workout recovery. I had successfully hacked my testosterone to higher levels. I’m certainly not alone. There are widespread reports of men following a Paleo diet feeling more like, well men.

Mark Sisson posted A Primal Primer: Testosterone with several ideas on how to increase testosterone naturally. They include:

  1. Lift Heavy Things
  2. Sprint
  3. Avoid Excessive Cortisol
  4. Get Sun or Take Vitamin D
  5. Eat Clean, Pastured Animal Products
  6. Eat Saturated and Monounsaturated Fat
  7. Avoid Foods that Regularly Spike Your Blood Glucose Levels
  8. Get Adequate Zinc Intake

A few ideas that I would also include are:

  1. Get plenty of sleep.
  2. Allow the body to recover from stressful workouts before heading back to the gym.
  3. Cold exposure. (I can’t prove it scientifically, but I am convinced it plays a role.)

Increasing Oxytocin in Women

Dr. Gray lists these attributes as oxytocin simulators: sharing, teamwork, communication, shared responsibilities, affection, support, collaboration, and compliments. He further states that social networks like Facebook are highly addictive to females because they provide the illusion of community they need, but they do not produce oxytocin. They need real face-to-face interactions to trigger that positive hormone, which is a problem because modern life has become very isolating for women. Much of their social interaction is no longer associated with unconditional giving but with deadlines and the need to hurry up, which is a primary oxytocin inhibitor. Unlike the recommendations for men, it seems each woman will have to solve this in her own way, depending on her career, location, and responsibilities.

Volunteer work might help. Bonding with a pet can also produce oxytocin. I’ve always wondered why women choose to go to yoga classes together instead of buying a DVD and doing the exercises at home. Now I understand why. They are sharing and communicating with other women, which reduces their stress levels.

Photo by Jason D’ Great. Dr. Gray talked about the community aspect that women had when they washed clothes by hand with other women. Although this work was tough, it did trigger hormones that reduced the woman’s stress level. 

A Good Start?

This post just touched the surface of this topic. Note that I am less than a week into my understanding of this subject. I have some more thoughts, which I plan to research. In the meantime, is there anything else you’d like to add to this post?


Add yours

  1. @MAS
    Great post/series.
    I think an important theme, which you have touched on, is that the hormones dictate the outcomes. If a man and a women want, intellectually, to correct a relationship issue, but their hormone levels are working against them, the hormones will win out, and they are not likely to succeed. It’s the same with eating. If you know intellectually that you don’t want to overeat, but your body is craving nutrition, the hormonal drive to eat will overcome your will power. Similarly, I think Art discusses in his lecture how he exercises to generate a certain hormonal state, which in turn, fosters muscle growth. The common theme is that the hormones control.

  2. @Jim – Thanks Jim. Once I get the book, I plan on posting more on this topic.

  3. How about not ejaculating for seven days?

    A research on the relationship between ejaculation and serum testosterone level in men

  4. So I’m confused. Those 8 things you list that men are supposed to do to increase testosterone are recommended for women as well and are more associated with healthy living than being men. Are we just supposed to sit around and do yoga and be compassionate and submissive? If we’re lifting heavy weights or working we’re messing up our hormones? Or maybe I’m missing something here.

  5. @Roberta – The goal for both sexes is to reduce stress levels. I placed the word “hacking” in the title of this post a reminder that we don’t live in some indigenous culture and that we will need to find ways to get our hormonal hit in a time efficient manner.

    Weight training is fine, as long as you still have time to de-stress later. I just started reading the book this morning. I’ll post once I’ve finished if I learn more.

  6. I’m reading Mars on Ice, Venus on Fire right now as well. Pretty good content so far.

  7. @Shozub – Me too. I’m up to page 140. I’ve got several ideas for future posts.

  8. Hey,

    Interesting post. I asked how to raise testosterone on Kresser´s podcast´s which featured Robb Wolf and Matt Lalonde (which Danny humbly apologized to me at AHS 11 for stumbling on the question), and was answered with some good suggestions that sound similar to the suggestions shared on this post. Might be worth checking out.


    I actually saw great initial increases in my testosterone and everything that comes along with that. But then what followed sounded like what has happened Matt Stone and others on a Paleo diet.


    I think this could have been remedied by mainly throwing carbs in the mix, and those that conflate the Paleo diet with a ketogenic diet are not being wise about what a Paleo diet can resemble. At least for me, I realized I was going too low’carb for too long along side of sky rocket levels of cortisol. I eventually fixed it by throwing carbs on a cyclic basis, making lifestyle changes and adding a Bcomplex (w vit C). Not sure if any one of these changes made most of the improvement, but I´m glad I felt the improvement.

    The carb and thyroid issue was touched on Jaminet´s blog by Chris Masterjohn, which I think is something that should be considering hormones.


    By the way, my brother and I will be doing a lay over in Seattle Sunday night. We´re from Southern California and it´ll be our first time in Seattle. We´re looking into making some plans for Sunday night. Let me know if you´re interested in meeting up for a drink or a bite.



  9. @Henry – When I first started paleo, my approach was lower carb, but I never had any problems with it. These days I am more moderate in my carbs. Actually I am somewhat higher in carbs during the summer.

    Enjoy your stay in Seattle. My weekend is booked solid.

    I’m glad you left a comment. It reminded me I need to post a review of the book Dr. Gray wrote.

  10. Alendra G. Pine

    Apr 8, 2013 — 2:02 pm

    Hi, I am a twenty eight year old half latin female who has been having roller coaster health issues and hormonal issues for several years, at least…the first time I was tested my testosterone was too high, for a while it was *perfect* and now it’s actually LOW. What scary illness could cause this, I’m wondering?!

  11. @Alendra – I do not know. I’d seek out a health professional.

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