What’s up ‘dox?

Depending on how good your hearing is, a paradox is either a logical sounding statement or action, which ultimately proves to be contradictory; or it’s an enduring brand of premium quality designer boot. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on the logic thing. (Sorry footwear fans.)

The plan was to provide examples of famous paradoxes and give a better sense of what I mean. But I couldn’t find any which didn’t either take ages to explain and/or melt my brain like ice-cream in a sauna.

So let’s jump straight in to the one we’re going to be focusing on, the Mossman-Pacey paradox. Don’t worry, it’s actually not that complex.

It describes guys who go to such extremes to attract partners, they make themselves less viable as a partner.

Worth a look

Looks aren’t everything so they say, and there’s probably still some truth to that. In this Tinder-age of left swipe, right swipe online dating however, appearance definitely has a renewed role.

Our image foot in the cyber romantic door if nothing else. With sometimes mere seconds to make an impression things like body shape and hairstyle are often what makes the difference. High stakes then. The result is more men feeling a pressure to make themselves as attractive as possible.

The best way to do this many feel is by upping their testosterone. It’s by no means a bad instinct either. We know increasing T not only improves physique, confidence and libido, but helps attractiveness in other subtle ways too.

Problems start when guys start pushing things too far. Going past what our bodies can cope with in terms of T by topping up artificially. Namely, taking steroids.

That’s when the Mossman-Pacey paradox can come into effect.

Big Daddy

When it comes right down to it, attractiveness is about evolution. That instinctive urge we all have, however well hidden, to pair off, couple up, turn on some Prince and keep the species going. So on a primal level relationships are always going to be as much about what you’ve got in your genes as in your jeans.

From that perspective, it’s not surprising that obvious strength, stamina and size appeal to lots of potential partners. It’s logical. It signals we’ve got all the tools to survive and thrive in life and can hand them down to our next generation.

Following that logic, surely if you’re even bigger and stronger again, you make even more of an ideal mate? So the ends almost justify the means when it comes to steroid use? No chance.

One of the first things to suffer with regular steroid abuse is fertility. Regular users typically have much lower sperm counts and smaller testicles.

Dr James Mossman, one of two scientists who give their name to the paradox, puts it like this:

“They are trying to look really big, to look like the pinnacles of evolution. But they are making themselves very unfit in an evolutionary sense, because without exception they had no sperm in their ejaculation at all.”

This is because the artificial steroid fools your body into thinking the testicles are producing too much T. To counter this and restore balance our normal bodily functions automatically down tools. Both Follicle-Stimulating Hormone and Luteinizing Hormone which, are key for healthy sperm, stop.

The other half of these paradox pals, Prof Allan Pacey, comments:

“I would say more anabolic steroid users are likely to become sterile than you would think – 90% probably.”

Heads up

Steroid users aren’t the only one the Mossman-Pacey paradox applies to though.

Male Pattern Baldness is an odd thing and all guys react to it differently. Some will just unsentimentally break out the razor and move on, while others will struggle. It can be a serious knock to confidence in some cases, so some men will do whatever it takes to stop that hairline escaping too soon.

Including solutions like the drug finasteride. This medication changes the way our bodies metabolize T, limiting hair loss. Very few chemical options come without side effects however and this is no different.

Finasteride can cause both erectile dysfunction and fertility problems.

Again this falls under our paradox. You *may increase your chances of attracting a partner by appearing to have good genes from eyebrows up, but passing them on might be a struggle.

(*Just may. A lot of people out there like a physical smoothie)

No shocks paradox

So what can we take away from the Mossman-Pacey paradox, apart from the fact that science’s gain is clearly an aspiring electropop duo somewhere’s loss?

Well, it just brings home what I suspect most of us who read this site already know. As great as it is to push our bodies to their limit, so we can look, feel and perform at our best, finding ways to force past those limits will only cause trouble in the long run.

Far from the ends justifying the means, the means seriously jeopardises the end.

Like a boxer who’s worked so unbelievably hard in training by the time they get to the ring they can barely lift their arms. What exactly is the point in that?

Keeping things natural and safe as far as high T will still get you plenty of attention. Just without sacrificing your health and happiness later on.

Write a comment