The Most Important Lesson I Have Learned From Replacing All Of My Hormones
About the author: I am a final year medical student. At the age of 23 I started to replace all of my major hormones. I wrote a number of articles to counter the vast amount of misinformation I have come across. Had I known then what I know now, it would have saved me lots of time, money, effort, researching and experimenting. Here I share with you some of the things I have learned along my way.
Everything in this article is built upon How Hormones Destroyed and Saved My Life. In fact, both of these were intended to be a single post, but in our fast-paced world people rarely have the time to read a 45min article, so I split it.
The butterfly effect. And the most powerful force in the universe
Our world is a highly chaotic system. If you alter starting conditions even just slightly, the trajectory and outcome might be totally different.
Let's embark on a thought experiment. Let's clone the universe. Now there is you and a cloned-you. A vicious scientist injects cloned-you secretly with testosterone while cloned-you sleeps.
He then keeps track of the changes in your life vs. the life of your clone. There is no way to tell how the experiment will go, but for sure your alternate futures will be different. Ever larger differences the longer the experiment runs.
Cloned-you is not chronically lethargic anymore but has (slightly) greater energy, mood, confidence, motivation.
He can keep reading books for longer than real-you. Able to use the afternoon lulls you experience in new and productive ways.
He has an easier time losing body fat and building muscle. This causes him to look better. This makes him react with more self-confidence towards others, but others also react with more benevolence towards him.
He has a little more energy right after waking up, more optimistic about starting a new day. He needs 30min less sleep, 15 of which he then uses for a morning meditation real-you never has the time for.
He has more drive to do things, is more motivated to study, more self-confidence to approach people, more eager to move and exercise. Instead of browsing Reddit, cloned-you feels motivated enough to finally write that article he was planning on writing for a long time.
Because of better sleep, energy, and mood, the clone is less irritable when a friend says something stupid and thus refrains from saying something potentially relationship-compromising that real-you would normally say.
The increase in self-confidence, energy, looks, motivation enables him to go out of his comfort zone and talk to Paula, a girl he was blown away from the first second he saw her.
We could continue this ad nauseum.
Having seen the evolution of their lives, if you could choose which life to have lived, would you choose your life or your clone´s?
Even if cloned-you gets just tiny amounts of additional value every day, over time this does add up. And whether cloned-you is aware of it or not, he automatically reinvests this daily compounded interest anew, every single day. Day after day. 365 days a year.
For the sake of argument let's arbitrarily say cloned-you is able to grow an additional 0.1% per day. (0.1% is quite a conservative estimate considering the large ripples energy, mood, health has on all domains of your life.)
After one year, cloned-you is 45% ahead. After 5 years 619% and after 10 years 3840%. Of course, this is unrealistic and asymptotes will eventually be approached, but simply to illustrate that there is a reason for Einstein's famous quote shown above.
Initial change might be slow, but years down the road the greater energy, mood, health, etc. lead to an upwards spiral in many domains of cloned-you´s life. An upwards spiral real-you stands no chance of catching up with.
On the other hand, a slightly negative growth rate has opposite effects.
Many people with great conventional life success (wealth, status, relationships) such as politicians, actors, CEOs, athletes, etc. often credit their accomplishments and high-tier place in society to their intelligence, effort, perseverance, talent, grit.
For them it feels natural to believe they deserve it, looking down upon “the lazy masses” binging Netflix, eating a crappy diet, consuming without creating, never opting for the hard things but rather being complacent in their comfortable rut of the status quo “living a life of quiet desperation” as Walden put it.
But what were the conditions and enabling factors that led to their intelligence, effort, perseverance, talent, grit in the first place?
They are often unaware of the luck they had. Perhaps the biggest luck is being born in a prosperous country. Or in a prosperous family with caring parents who were cherishing and motivating them along the way.
There is an innumerable number of potential conditions completely outside their influence. From genetics to being born in a prosperous country, caring parents who were cherishing and motivating along the way, schooling, looks, race, etc. Conditions that enabled them to work hard in the first place.
But perhaps nothing is as powerful as vitality: our energy, mood, health.
I wholeheartedly believe that great vitality is on average perhaps the most powerful factor that determines the evolution and outcome of most people’s lives.
And hormones are one of the most important factors determining our vitality.
The greater, above-average energy, mood, health, all give us value every single day. The value we then automatically reinvest. Each day anew. 7 days a week. 365 days a year. And compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe.
Life is like poker — you can get a good hand, play it perfectly, but still end up with a bad outcome.
A great vitality is your ace in the poker game of life. Even with an immaculate vitality, you can screw up the game, but chances are you do so much less likely.
Energy levels, health, mood, motivation, looks, concentration, memory, cognition, recovery, etc. affect our lives every single day.
The two most important factors determining our vitality are genetics and hormones, the latter of which we can negotiate. Both have a huge influence on how we and our lives have turned out and will turn out in the future.
Most people's hormones are certainly not “pathological”. Everyone is falling somewhere along a huge spectrum of countless different possible permutations.
Most of us cluster somewhere around the middle of the bell curve distribution, but some are at the very tail end on either side. And this has huge implications for someone's life.
Those who were lucky enough to have above-average biological vitality have had a markedly different life throughout childhood and adolescence. By the age of 20, they are on average a lot further ahead compared to most of us who are not regressing from the mean much.
How well we did in school, how we look, how readily we can motivate ourselves to delay gratification, our thinking patterns about life in general, how much pleasure we get out of social experiences vs. how much we rather want to stay by ourselves, how much fun we are to be around and thus the group of friends we have or do not have or do not have anymore, the partner we are able to get or not get our income. So much more.²
All these depend on transient mental states. Mental states strongly depend on hormones, much more than you could likely imagine.
We are biological creatures. Most of us are simply not aware of how these invisible biochemical Gods are pulling our strings in the background. How they affect the way we are feeling in each moment, the way you are feeling now. Unaware of how these changes ripple every facet of our life.
If your hormones are bad, “living life to the fullest” is just not on the cards.
Links to practical guides (article continues below):
How To Fix Your Hormones: The Ultimate Guide (main article)
Brief Overview Of Different Hormone Therapies
How To Replace Thyroid Hormones
How To Replace Cortisol&Adrenals
How To Replace Male Sex Hormones
How To Replace Female Sex Hormones
How To Replace Growth Hormone
Different Types Of Fatigue For Different Hormone Deficiencies
A Diet That Works For Everyone
I put both of my parents on hormone replacement. Thyroid and various sex hormones for my mum, testosterone, and a small dose of growth hormone for my dad. It was immediately like night and day to them because there was no graduality involved.
They were reminded of how it felt like when they were young. How much more energy they had. More motivation to do things. How much better their sleep, feeling refreshed immediately after waking up. How much better and easier life can be if you have good energy and mood and health all the time.
They experienced how much of a difference it makes. How much they have indirectly lost all these years by just feeling “meh” like so many of us do on a daily basis. Lots of lost opportunities down the road, lots of life enjoyment never experienced.
You hear the following advice everywhere: “YOLO”. Live fully. Each new day is a gift. Make the best out of the only life you have got. And countless variations thereof.
Well, guess what? If you always feel tired, unmotivated, moody enjoying yourself or anything else is next to impossible. You could never live a similar life your favorite movie/book character does. You simply don´t have the energy for it!
If one could perform a multivariate regression analysis to determine the factors that correlate the most with a “great” life (from a “conventional” perspective), we would undoubtedly find that there is a strong correlation with above-average vitality.
And those of us with shitty vitalities progressively occupy more and more spots in society towards the bottom of conventional life success.
Most of us though are by definition “average”. But why would we want to settle for that? If we go by statistical “normality”, this eventually evolves into overweight, unhealthy, unhappy, perhaps even anxious or depressed. Not necessarily what I would want for myself in the only life I have got.
For my brief encounter with suicide and what I learned from it (namely, why depression is a chemical imbalance, but not the way you think), read here.
Vitality is first and foremost determined by two things. Genetics and hormones. Both of these are far more powerful than any lifestyle factors. While genetics are more or less static³, hormones are not.³ If they go downhill, so do you. So does your life. With some lag time perhaps, but nonetheless.
Good vitality is the most instrumental goal to lead the life we want. And it just so happens that vitality is influenced by hormones in a major way.
If you improve someone's hormones at any point in their life, many facets of their life automatically start to improve.
With greater vitality, we have more energy. More drive. We do more readily. We procrastinate less.
What is more, life is just as good as our mind is. And the mind is what the brain does. And hormones have a major say in what your brain does.
And as our hormones improve, we are in a better mood, which doesn´t only affect our own thoughts and actions but also how much people like being around us because the mood is contagious.
Due to hormones' direct effects on muscle, fat, skin, hair, etc. we begin to look better. Combined with the greater energy, drive, and motivation our willpower increases. We make better food choices, exercise more, and sleep better.
The gains in looks (along with the energy, mood, enthusiasm) translate into a more fulfilling social life and certainly love life.
Our ability to work hard improves. Perhaps we earn more money and your wealth improves. (In fact, after putting my dad on TRT restoring his testosterone to youthful levels, he made 30–50% more money.)
We don´t just feel better biochemically but due to many facets of our life improving we also feel better about ourselves and life in general (independent of any neurobiochemical effects).
The story we tell ourselves gets better, which is what happiness is all about.
We can now finally apply what we have read in all these self-help books because we have the necessary energy for it.
We are not as tired anymore and are more “present”.
As our energy and mood improve, we are less irritable. Less of the usual asshole on autopilot.
The downstream effects of all of these things (might) allow us to be a better contributor to humanity.
If all of these weren´t enough, with greater energy levels and a better mood, we simply also feel better in every single moment. Right now. And our life is simply a string of nows, causing our area-under-the-curve happiness to increase (for the not so mathematically inclined, this means you get better at YOLO).
Of course, all this does not happen overnight, but rather over long periods of time (months to years) due to many complex and cross-interacting feed-back and feed-forward loops spanning all domains of life.
Summarizing all of the above: Our energy, mood, and health are among the most important conditions of your life. All of them quite strongly depend on hormones. So much more than most of us realize.
Thus, if we improve our hormones, chances are high that over time we improve both your outer life (your objective life situation) and your inner life (your subjective well-being). And simply the way we feel moment to moment. All this an automatic byproduct of patience.
So, what is the most important lesson I have learned?
The compound interest of vitality.
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The opportunity cost of doing nothing. And the risk of inaction
Anti-vaxxers assume the world would be and remain the same as it is now (i.e. no infectious diseases) if we stopped vaccinating. The only thing gone would be the nuisances, side effects, and risks associated with vaccines.
It is true that if we didn´t vaccinate there wouldn´t be any (rare) complications nor other (tiny) risks and downsides. But instead of these downsides, we would now have a world full of infectious diseases!
Would you rather not have “side effects + no benefits” or ”side effects + benefits”? And what are the risks/side effects/downsides of not intervening? When comparing the upsides and downsides of both sides of the equation, the decision becomes a no-brainer.
The same holds for hormone replacement. Many people are scared and worry about the side effects. But we must not compare the nuisances, risks, side effects of hormone replacement with a life where we don´t have these but magically feel/function the way we do on hormone replacement!
In fact, this is often the case. After a year of therapy, patients are so much used to feeling and functioning better, that they completely forgot how they used to feel before.
They now only consider the downsides/risks/nuisances/price associated with therapy (as is the case with vaccines). This is unfair because they wouldn´t feel/function the way they do without hormone replacement.
As menopause set in my mum became more and more lethargic, passive, waning interest in friends and hobbies.
Having experienced the powerful and destructive forces of hormones in my own life, I tried to convince her to get on hormone replacement therapy (topical estradiol, oral progesterone, DHEA, natural desiccated thyroid).
At first, she was concerned about putting anything “unnatural” into her body. But living beyond the age of 50 is just as “unnatural”. We never evolved to be that old in the first place. (This means that millions of women worldwide spend almost half their life in a severe hormonal deficit -in fact, their sex hormones are almost zero.).
What bothered me, was that she didn’t even ask about the benefits but was mostly concerned about any complications and side effects and the nuisances associated with therapy.⁴ My answer was always the same: They are a no-brainer compared to the benefits.
The small increase in cancer risk (tiny in absolute numbers) is dwarfed by the protection against osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, and cardiovascular disease.⁵
The most important impact though is the mental effects, which allow her to have the necessary energy, mood, and motivation to lead a better lifestyle (sleep, nutrition, exercise). And the biggest plagues of modern civilization are all lifestyle diseases (80% of deaths in Western countries).
I am not saying she shouldn’t worry about the side effects (she should!), but she didn´t see “doing nothing” as an active choice with its own set of side effects. A decision and action of equal weight and consequences. And what is the opportunity cost of inaction?
Now my mum is glad she went on HRT. What she went through was a mini-version of what I went through. Her skin and hair became more youthful (a big one for her), her cheerful nature slowly came back, better sleep, interest in friends and hobbies reemerged.
We have only one life in this universe. Given the immense importance of hormones, the opportunity cost of doing nothing is simply too high. And if we have the means to do so, the choice for inaction is also an action.
Many thyroid patients swear that treatment gave them “their life back”. A life they had been missing for years. So can HRT after menopause or testosterone in aging males. Many even draw a line and divide their life into “pre-treatment” and “post-treatment”-days. This is no exaggeration.
On fulfillment and hedonism
Even though I found out for myself that fulfillment/happiness comes from either personal growth or contribution or best both (just as legions of psychologists have been saying for over a century), humans aren´t all the same.
When it comes to happiness many roads lead to Rome. If we decided for our guiding principle to be lofty hedonism because of YOLO and we simply want to enjoy the only life we have got to the fullest possible extent.
With greater energy and mood and health in every moment of your life (and your YOLO-life is essentially a string of individual moments right next to each other), we elevate your personal “score” of enjoyment/happiness in every one of these moments.
Thus, even though YOLO people are not overly scientific, if we could plot our happiness/wellbeing/life enjoyment in every moment of our life and then integrate the area under the curve, your AUC-happiness would be vastly greater. The whole point of hedonism.
The point is this: whatever our goal in life, great vitality is one of our most important instrumental goals to get us there.
I am not saying biological vitality (energy, mood, health) is the sole determinant of how happy we are. Or how productive/capable/useful we are. Certainly not.
But what I am saying is that our biological vitality, if one correlated it via multivariate regression analysis, would be the number one factor that on average correlates best with objective life success. And likely subjective well-being as well. Not directly, but indirectly through all the feedback loops it has.
And yes, psychological factors are extremely powerful. The mindset. Our “why”. He who has it can bear any how. There are many cases where the exception seems to prove the rule. Viktor Frankl surviving the concentration camp. For sure his hormones were crap.
We generally like to point to these exceptional examples to prove a point.
But what about the millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of people on this planet, whose life simply didn´t turn out the way it could have? We just never hear from them.
In your own town, there are likely thousands of people waking up every day feeling like crap, dragging themselves to work, waiting until work is over (trading in their only truly limited resource for money), dragging themselves home, ordering some food, and spending the rest of their time with technology. No energy to be social. No energy to do sports. No energy to have done well in school and becoming ambitious and setting goals in the first place.
I know I said it many times, but again, my point is this: Life is soooo easy (and enjoyable) if you are vital all the time.
And again, there is nothing as powerful for these as our hormonal profile.
Are you aware of your baseline?
Last year I did a 5-day fasting-mimicking diet. While I felt great for the first three days, I got very lethargic and brain-foggy on day four. I was more or less incapacitated. Neither had I the capacity nor the motivation to do anything. My work efficiency was perhaps one third compared to what it normally is.
This temporary state reminded me of how I felt only a few years ago on a daily basis. It also reminded me of the millions of others out there that feel like this on a daily basis. Always lethargic, moody, and unmotivated. If you feel like this day in and out, how can you get anywhere in life?
There are many, many people in your and my vicinity in such a state every single day. As we humans are masters in keeping up our facade in front of others, you often can´t tell from the outside, but many have been in such a state for years.
I have been there. A few years ago I was always lethargic. I took forever to wake up, slow in thought, couldn´t concentrate, felt dumb, cold all the time, needed 8h+ sleep, just wanted to stay by myself, rarely did I laugh, ravenous, everything required a shit-ton of self-discipline, my mood was worse than “meh”, was always irritable, no magic in life, no butterflies. After each day I was relieved that another day was over. I was at best just trying to get by.
While I was feeling like absolute crap every single day from the outside, people that knew me couldn´t really tell. They were genuinely surprised once I told them how I had been actually feeling.
Just as everyone else, I was trained all my life to present an impeccable facade, despite the house behind it being a ruin.
I am fortunate to be in this quite unique position of having seen the black and white contrast: From feeling great until my 20s → to feeling like crap from 20 to 24 → to truly great (from a biological perspective).
I experienced how a change in vitality will be reflected in your overall life situation (with some lag time). How much easier and more enjoyable life is. How much more I can do, how much more contribute.
But most of you have never had this opportunity to try out a different baseline.¹
Think about the last time you were sick or had a bad night of sleep. Remember how much less productive you were, how much more energy everything took you, how much less enjoyable everything was. Perhaps even how much more of an asshole you were.
Fortunately for most of us, these periods just happen occasionally and after a few days, they pass again, quickly forgotten. But now let’s assume this state would continue for a whole year. How much would this impact your life, how much less would you accomplish, how much less could you enjoy things/people/life?
But what about when you are not sick? How is your baseline?
How does the way you feel on a daily basis (when you are not sick) compare to the way others feel on a daily basis? The days you feel your best might be someone else’s baseline. Your worst days as well. Your best and most productive hour of the day might be someone else’s worst hour.
How would this impact your life over time? From productivity, enjoyment, social life, happiness, and all the second and third-order consequences all these entail.
What I am saying is you should question your baseline. How perhaps it might have been holding you back for years, without you being aware.
Most of us are completely used to their baseline vitality. Because we don´t know anything different. We have no idea how it would feel and be like to live in someone else’s body for one day. The difference might be night and day, completely alien to whatever you are used to.
To a vastly larger extent than appreciated the way you feel moment to moment, the way you feel right now quite strongly depends on your hormone levels at a given moment in time. Most of us simply have no idea what it “feels” like if one of our hormones changes.
If you are 40 or older, I would wish for you to be able to relive a single day when you were 20. The difference in how everything feels (mood, energy, motivation) would be like night and day. And the main reason for this difference was a gradual decline in hormones. Too gradual for you to notice.
Other than the temporary boost of stimulants, most have no idea how better you could feel and function. Most people are not aware, in fact, are completely blinded as to how their “baseline”-vitality compares to that of others.
Imagine you had extended your best and most vital hour of the day to the whole day. 7 days a week. 365 days a year. How much more productive you could be. How much more you could enjoy your time. How much more you could contribute to others. Where your life could be in 10 years from now.
Let’s say in a new high-tech VR game with complete CBI-integration, you could try out how it would feel if you tweaked your hormones. It would strike you how different you possibly could feel, especially if you have been lowish in any of the major hormones.
For many, the difference would be akin to cleaning your dusty glasses for the first time in years.
If your new hormonal profile is much “better”, many of the problems you struggle with on a daily basis would be gone. From not being able to fall asleep, feeling tired, procrastinating, unmotivated, brain fog, struggling to lose weight, confidence in interactions, etc. And likely you wouldn´t want to go back.
However, if the profile were drastically worse, you would conclude although health might not be everything, without it, everything is nothing. Perhaps our judgment for certain fringes of society would turn into compassion.
Well, I had done this VR-CBI-thought experiment in real life.
As I started to replace what I was missing, tweaking my hormones on a monthly and sometimes even weekly basis, I experienced first-hand how much your “baseline”-energy and “baseline”-mood, how I felt on a daily basis, can be improved in an “in-your-face” kind of way.
And of course, I didn´t want to go back.
If one of your key hormones is truly low, an in-your-face change like this is also possible for you, often with the supplementation of a single hormone.
What does this mean for you?
I guess that around 1 in 5 of you have a hormonal imbalance severe enough to warrant intervention. This causes life to be harder, less enjoyable, less healthy compared to how it could be.
To find out more about what this means for you, read Part III: Your hormones might be screwed.
My goal with all my writing is to point people in the right direction towards removing these biological shackles so many of us carry, thus helping them to become a better version of themselves, living life more fully, and (hopefully) being better contributors to humanity. (If you have never experienced a true hormonal deficiency this might sound maniac, but you have no idea how much this can hold someone back. Good treatment can literally give someone one´s life back.)
Thanks to my unique story, extensive knowledge, and personal experience, there are few people out there that know as much about hormones and all their interactions, details, and technicalities. When it comes to hormones, the right or wrong choice can make or break your life. To ask questions about your own hormones, contact me via email (email@example.com). I’m able to offer you insights about your individual situation almost nobody else can.
This is part II of my series about hormones.
- The gradual age-related hormonal decline starting in their 30s is way too gradual to notice. In fact, even I sometimes forget how I felt in the past and tend to assume it has always been this way.
- And all these things also affect your subjective happiness, the story you tell yourself, in major ways. Independent of your energy and mood and health. It also affects how you feel right now…and your life is a string of nows.
- Epigenetics is vastly overrated.
- Too bad we humans like to stay in our comfort zone and that our mental faculties just have an inherent bias for loss aversion.
- Protection against CVD only applies to transdermal estrogen, not oral. Oral estrogens go to the liver first, increasing all clotting factors, which increases your risk of thrombosis.
About the author.
My goal with all my writing is to point people in the right direction towards removing biological shackles holding them back from becoming a better version of themselves, living life fully, and being better contributors to humanity.
To get non-lame stuff about becoming the best version of yourself, sign up here.
I also encourage you to join the subreddit r/HormoneEnhancement.