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Ask Dr. Dan: Vasectomy and Low T

Plus, the science behind 1-AD and managing overtraining.

Q: My wife and I have decided that I should get a vasectomy. Will it affect my testosterone levels at all?

A: I’m glad that you and your wife reached the decision together. A vasectomy is a very reliable method of birth control, having a failure rate of approximately one in 500 cases. Also, most vasectomies can be reversed.

A vasectomy involves two cuts through the scrotum. Then the vas deferens, the tubes that allow sperm to travel through the urogenital tract, are cut and tied off or burned to prevent reopening. The small cuts in the scrotum are closed. A man can typically return to work within 24 to 48 hours (assuming he doesn’t ride a bike for a living). As some sperm may remain in the upper parts of the tract, it’s recommended that the patient abstain from sex for about two weeks. Semen samples are collected at intervals after the procedure to ensure that the closure is complete. Surveys show 93 to 95 percent of patients are satisfied with the procedure.

As the procedure involves the testicles, it’s natural to wonder if testosterone levels could be affected. Large studies verify that blood levels of testosterone are unchanged following a vasectomy. Most show an increase in dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Research hasn’t found any link to prostate cancer. In fact, one study suggests that the vasectomy has protective effects on the prostate, as it’s slightly smaller in men who have undergone the procedure.

So it doesn’t appear that having the vasectomy will negatively affect your testosterone levels. In fact, Steinach commented that a vasectomy can rejuvenate aging males by improving the endocrine function of the testes.

Q: Is there anything to this new 1-AD? I’ve used andro before and got nothing from it.

A: Most pro-hormones are based on androstenedione, a weak androgen secreted by the adrenal glands, which are located just above the kidneys. The problem with androstenedione is that it’s easily and rapidly converted to estrogen, which leads to the risk of feminizing side effects. Also, you have to take large doses, as it doesn’t survive oral delivery’swallowing capsules’well.

1-AD is short for 1-androstenedione. While that name sounds as if it’s just another androstenedione, it has one important difference. The old forms were based on 4-androstenedione, as opposed to 1-androstenedione (now 1-androstenediol). The number in the pro-hormone name designates where a chemical bond, called a double bond, is located.

1-AD isn’t affected by the aromatizing enzyme, as the change’a 1-double bond instead of a 4-double bond’alters the chemical. Some studies suggest that 1-AD converts into 1-testosterone. 1-testosterone is reported to be a potent androgen as well as being strongly anabolic, perhaps more so than testosterone. No conclusive human studies are available at this time.

The science behind 1-AD is promising. Perhaps the greatest argument supporting it is that the developer behind the product is Patrick Arnold. I’m not going to blow Patrick’s horn, but I will state that he’s one of the few people in this industry who deserve respect.

Does it work? I have received comments from a small number of people, as it’s a fairly new product, but all have been positive. Gains have ranged from minimal to phenomenal, and results appear to be related to the dose. It seems from user reports that 500 milligrams a day is very effective. No side effects have been reported since the product was changed from 1-androstenedione to 1-androstenediol. The original product caused stomach upset for some users.

Would I recommend this product? I hesitate to recommend pro-hormones for anyone until he talks to his own physician. Those who compete in drug-tested events or organizations, such as the NCAA or NSAA, should be aware that 1-AD may contain contaminants that could lead to a positive drug test. For those who choose to use pro-hormones, this seems to be the only oral one that is reasonably effective and has few side effects. It will be interesting to follow the experiences of 1-AD users and see if it continues to deliver on its promises.

Q: I’ve been training bodyparts once a week to avoid overtraining, but my friend says I’ll never grow unless I shock the muscles with more frequent training. Am I wrong to train bodyparts once a week?

A: Overtraining is a very real syndrome experienced when one specific muscle group or the body as a whole repeatedly experiences greater exertion than it can recover from. In other words, unless you rest, the muscle or muscles grow weaker.

You can track whether you’re overtraining by keeping a log. If you write down your weights on each set, assuming that you do the same workout from week to week, you shouldn’t see a decrease in your strength. If you have a bad day, that doesn’t mean you’re overtrained. If you have a string of bad workouts over a week or two, you’re probably overtrained. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping a log if you really want to make gains. Let me tell you the easiest and cheapest way to make a log. Go to an office supply store or even a Wal-Mart or Target. Find the three-by-five index cards, spiral-bound. These come in 50-card packs, which gives you 100 sides. There’s room for your training, diet and comments, so you can track your progress for two or three months per pack, all for less than $2. The index cards are stiffer and more durable than paper. I use them and I love them.

Now, can you grow if you train more frequently than once per week for each bodypart? Yes, definitely. One member on my Internet message board at has started training his biceps three times per week. He’s put on a half inch in a month and has blasted past a personal record in arm size. In the old days we used to train for two hours at a time and did chest and arms twice a week (hoping to become babe magnets) and back and legs once each. While there were injuries and periods of overtraining, we grew and grew and grew.

I think we may be forgetting the results we gained from the old days with the marathon workout sessions and high-volume training. This idea flies in the face of Mike Mentzer’s philosophy. There’s no question that Mike’s workout program works for some. There’s no doubt that other programs have worked for others. I think that variety is best, and perhaps high-volume training needs to be reintroduced into the training regimen.

I’d like some of you to try training a bodypart’preferably legs or arms, as they are easy to measure’two or three times per week. Keep a log and let me know if you gain any size or strength. Also, let me know how long the positive results keep coming, if you experience any, and how long until you begin to lose strength or size due to overtraining. If we can get 50 or 100 people to perform this experiment, we should be able to get a good idea of how well high-volume training works compared to the currently accepted once-per-week protocol. Send e-mail to me at [email protected] and let me know how well the training works.

Editor’s note: Daniel Gwartney, M.D., is a clinical pathologist and a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine. He’s been bodybuilding for more than 18 years. The material presented in this column is for general-information purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice or an individual recommendation. Consult with your physician or health care provider before embarking on any fitness, training, diet or supplementation program. The author and IRONMAN assume no liability for the information contained in this column. IM

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