Article updated 9/19/23. Please note a lot of this data is weak & doubtful. But we are still publishing this info, out of interest. More info on the data and our process here.
Testosterone varies a lot around the world. We found hundreds of studies from all around the world. According to the studies, men who live in countries like Uzbekistan and Nigeria have high testosterone, while the men who live in countries like the USA and Venezuela unfortunately have unhealthy low testosterone. (But a few decades ago the low testosterone regions had pretty high testosterone too! We have the data for that as well.)
The Highest Testosterone in the World
Testosterone has been falling since the early 1980’s at least. For this reason, we are only looking at data from 2000 or later here. Around 2012, the region with the highest testosterone we’ve seen is Chita, Russia, where the men at an average age of 34 have testosterone levels of 1022 ng/dl! (source) Now, testosterone declines with age, and studies are done on all different age groups. To make the studies comparable, we’ve come up with a way to calculate what a normal male population of all ages would have as their average testosterone, and we’ve done this to all the studies to make them comparable. So Chita, Russia gets corrected to 905 ng/dl to reflect a population that includes all ages. 905 for the whole population is the number that we’ve found to be the highest on our list.
Chita is in southeast Siberia, a little above Mongolia.
The next highest number is from Peshawar, Pakistan. This is the part of Pakistan where the Pashtun people live, close to Afghanistan. At age 18-25 around 2016, men in Peshawar had testosterone of 1090 ng/dl. (source) That age corrects to 893 ng/dl.
Next is Ahwaz, Iran in 2016. Here, men with an average age of 20, have 1100 ng/dl testosterone. Age corrected, that’s 887 ng/dl. (source)
In Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Hmong people have 975 ng/dl testosterone at an average age of 37. That corrects to 884 ng/dl. (source)
In Ibadan, Nigeria, men with an average age of nearly 38 have 940 ng/dl testosterone, which age corrects to 858 ng/dl. (source)
These are the top 5 highest testosterone places I’ve seen (from recent times.) Some of these countries have very different testosterone levels in different parts of them, however.
The Highest Testosterone Countries
While Siberia has very high testosterone for the most part, most Russians live thousands of miles to the west. So we can’t really say that the testosterone in Chita reflects the average testosterone in Russia as a whole.
For the following info, we’ve tried to pick areas that are as representative as possible of where much of the population of a country lives, or we’ve averaged studies together to represent a large piece of a country.
Here are the Top 5 testosterone levels in countries from which we could find acceptable data, adjusted for age by us when possible, and no earlier than 2010:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo – 852 ng/dl testosterone (South Kivu province) (Note: This result is questionable, since I am interpreting what I believe to be a typo in the original study.)
- Uzbekistan – 773 ng/dl testosterone (Tashkent)
- Ghana – 739 ng/dl testosterone (Accra)
- Cameroon – 701 ng/dl testosterone (Djutitsa)
- Azerbaijan – 694 ng/dl testosterone (Baku)
To see testosterone levels in the rest of the world, keep scrolling. But first, we want to ask what is going on with how widespread low testosterone is?!
Why is testosterone so low in some places?
Sadly, testosterone appears to be low to the point of being unhealthy in much of the world. The studies suggest that testosterone used to be pretty high all over the world before the 80’s. Testosterone has fallen in these places, while staying high in the other places. More info here: Testosterone Levels 100 Years Ago
Here’s testosterone levels around 1980 (data was from between 1975 and 1985):
We have found that low testosterone correlates with PUFA consumption in the diet (seed oils are a big source of this), and low testosterone also correlates with agricultural chemical use by country.
Low testosterone might be from agricultural chemicals getting into your body
Agricultural chemicals get into the food and water. More info here: Pesticides May Lower Testosterone
You can lower the amount of chemicals you ingest by eating organic food, or food raised by a farmer that you know doesn’t use chemicals. A big source of these chemicals in your body is the water you drink. Agricultural chemicals run off fields and end up in your water supply. A good water filter can remove testosterone-lowering chemicals and make a big difference for you.
Testosterone could be lowered by chemicals and synthetic underwear
There are lots of chemicals and microplastics floating around that are known to be endocrine disruptors – foreign substances that mess with your body’s hormones. Major sources of these chemicals: Plastic food packaging, cosmetics, detergents, and synthetic clothes, like polyester underwear. Hunter-gatherers aren’t exposed to these artificial chemicals, and they usually have very high testosterone, around 900 ng/dl compared to our typical 400 ng/dl. (Source)
Polyester and other synthetic fabric in clothes and furniture is a major source of microplastic absorption into the body, because synthetic fabrics shed plastic dust that we then breathe in. Microplastics are frequently xenoestrogens – foreign substances that cause estrogenic effects in the body, and therefore will typically lower testosterone.
Your underwear likely has synthetic plastic – polyester -in the fabric. It’s better to wear underwear made of natural fabric, like cotton or wool, as some studies show that synthetic underwear could reduce sperm count by a lot. (source below)
A lot of underwear that claims to be 100% cotton or wool is actually a blend of a synthetic fabric, like polyester, with wool or cotton. We can save you the trouble of looking for real wool underwear though – here are some 100% merino wool boxers made by Woolly brand:
And here are 100% cotton boxers from Jockey:
Go ahead and check the label on your underwear – it is likely a blend with polyester, not actually 100% cotton.
As mentioned, some studies done on rats and dogs have found that polyester underwear (yes, worn by animals!) drops sperm count to low levels compared to sperm count in an animal wearing underwear made of natural fabric. (Source) In that study, testosterone wasn’t shown to be effected, but the damage mechanism of polyester to sperm count that was identified in that study (electric disruption of the body) could conceivably come into play for damaging hormone production as well.
Seed oils might lower testosterone
You can avoid seed oils and PUFA by eating a diet where the fat comes from butter, coconut oil, and beef tallow, rather than from canola oil, soybean oil, fast food, and manufactured food. More info here: PUFA Might Lower Testosterone
Testosterone levels in the rest of the world
(Some of this data may be out of date)
Here are the average testosterone levels in the countries, age-adjusted, and no earlier than 2010 for the countries, although we also included data from six tribes from the 80’s and 90’s.
Similar data can also be found in text form at the bottom of this article.
Summary of the data
Africa and the middle east are mostly high test, with outliers that are not. South Africa is lower (not an ethnic effect, that was checked), and the small Persian Gulf countries are low.
It could help us understand what is lowering testosterone if we could understand such low outliers (like the Gulf countries) in regions that are mostly high. Central Asia is also mostly high test, but Kazakhstan (at least parts of it) is very low.
In Pakistan we found big variations: Northern Pakistan is very high, Southern is quite low (but didn’t use to be). In Northern Pakistan, secular students are very high, madrassa students aren’t quite as high (still high by modern standards though)
Central Asia – some of central asia is very high, but Kazakhstan is weirdly VERY low and has a big problem with urological birth defects and male infertility – something bad going on there. Kazakhstan’s government set up a big program to deal with this problem. Apparently 56% of men have ED in Kazakhstan cities. And “of the examined children (from 0 to 16 years old), various uroandrological pathology was found in 90.3%.” (source) Interesting because this is a place with a high birth rate and some will claim that birth rate is due to testosterone… Apparently not.
Europe and the Anglosphere are mostly lower test but levels are still pretty OK in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and somewhat in North Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. So there’s two clusters that are OK – the latin south and the north germanic area (minus norway).
Also there’s some indication that Europe’s test levels might be coming back up. And note that for the most part they are a bit higher than the USA (and the Western Hemisphere in general) which makes me wonder if Europe’s stricter regulations about endocrine disruptors and their cleaner food may have a genuine effect.
Eastern Europe mostly had terrible levels, contrary to popular belief. (Although there’s contradictory results from Poland) The European part of Russia was low test, but Russia outside that core area was high test (Caucasus, Siberia, Russian Far East – all high test) and it was not an ethnic effect, because Slavic people were analyzed in some of these outer areas and had high test – in fact one of the highest test numbers I saw was Slavic Russians in one part of the Russian Far East. Why parts of Russia are high test, but another part of Russia isn’t, I have no idea.
What about China? China has pretty low testosterone, comparable with the USA, in the core Eastern part of China where most of the people live. The outskirts of China have somewhat higher testosterone though. Uygurs in Xinjiang have pretty good testosterone, making them part of the phenomenon of mostly high testosterone in Central Asia.
Here’s testosterone levels across India:
While there was a tendency for 1st world = low, 3rd world = high – we found major exceptions. Most of latin america is low. And the netherlands was pretty high! (600 – very respectable)
- In Northern Pakistan, secular students are very high, madrassa students aren’t quite as high (still high by modern standards though)
- Wildland firefighters in Montana – allegedly 1200 ng/dl (very high) (Source)
- Russian police – quite high
- Kazakh firefighters – very LOW (there is something wrong in Kazakhstan as noted above – some kind of endocrine disruption)
- In the late 80’s in the US – 14% of low education & income (“low SES”) men were in the upper 10% of testosterone, while only 6% of high SES men were in the upper 10%. (Source)
Antisocial behavior, Income, Education, and Testosterone
High testosterone produced more “antisocial behavior” in both low SES and high SES men, but this effect was much weaker in high SES men. For example, a low SES man with high testosterone was about twice as likely to engage in “adult delinquency” than a low SES man with normal testosterone. But a high SES man with high testosterone was actually a little bit less likely to engage in “adult delinquency” than a high SES man with normal testosterone. High SES men in general were far less likely to engage in “adult delinquency.”
Excellent quotes from this article to explain that:
“Testosterone is related to a general sensation-seeking tendency… [low SES men] often find the most exciting things to do are illegal, while high SES individuals can do things that are both exciting and socially acceptable – driving fast cars instead of stealing them, arguing instead of fighting, playing college football instead of assaulting.”
Another quote from the article:
“Testosterone in adolescent males has been associated with dominance, leading especially to delinquency when they feel unfairly restricted or prematurely try to engage in activities… usually reserved for older persons” – I would suggest that our culture encourages the treatment of young adult males more like children than nature and the past would suggest is a good idea. School (and current typical jobs) reduce sense of agency – the male rebels against it. If he feels that he succeeds in rebellion, his test stays naturally high, if he feels he has been defeated, that is called “chronic social defeat” and animal studies say that produces unfavorable chemical changes, depression, etc.
Years of education consistently lowers testosterone a bit on average – at least in the first world.
In the late 80’s USA, among young whites:
- 11 years education – ~735 ng/dl.
- 16 years of education – ~665 ng/dl
Among older whites:
- 11 years education – 662 ng/dl.
- 16 years education – 615 ng/dl
Social and Occupational Stresses
90’s USA medical doctor residents (80 hour weeks and low sleep generally) – test is crashed to the 300’s (other workers at the hospital were almost double, at that time)
One study found that ethnic Indians in India had high test, but ethnic Indians in England had low test. (Immigrant stress effect? Effects of the climate? Change in diet? Change in lifestyle?) Also note that ethnicity is not the determining factor for hormone levels.
Mice study: Chronic social defeat during adolescence causes higher stress hormones in later life (lowers test) (source)
Modern high school (and work) would likely be experienced as “chronic social defeat” by a typical male. He’s forced to be there and experiences his own failure to stop that. I’d expect any loss of agency to produce sweeping chemical-behavioral changes. (low agency correlated strongly with depression)
Miscellaneous claims about testosterone – debunking time!
So there’s a lot of claims that fly around about test
Urban vs rural? UNKNOWN. (Aside from South Africa where people living in the rural areas had less cortisol and more testosterone than when they “urbanized” which meant moving into a favela-like place. Unclear how this translates to urban/rural splits in the rest of the world.
Regional variation in the USA? (Claims: the midwest and rockies are higher, the coasts and especially california are low) Results are mixed – the midwest is LOW LOW. Florida and Alabama have ok levels. US locations correlate pretty well with pesticides. Hypothesis is that heavy crop areas will have lower test and this checks out so far.
Ethnic variation – very unclear, for any ethnicity you care to name there are regions where they have high test and regions where they have low test.
The claim that certain special locations are higher – Specifically East Euro and Baltic are claimed to be high – this is FALSE – these areas are LOWER. However Siberia and middle east are high, except for the low test small Persian Gulf countries.
The claim that the 3rd world is higher – FALSE – Latin America is mostly very low. And parts of the 1st world are actually OK.
Many of the claims out there are based on saliva tests and on pretty minor increases or decreases. Saliva tests are debatable, and our project didn’t mix data from them into our results, which are based on blood tests.
- special diets will raise test (red meat, high Sat Fat, low carb, low PUFA, raw eggs/cholesterol) – Mixed results.
- special micronutrients will raise test (zinc) – Kind of
- blue collar is higher than white collar – unclear, but more education does correlate with slightly lower testosterone.
- low class higher than middle and upper class – unclear
- primitives are higher than “civilized” – mostly TRUE (exceptions: San, and malnourished)
- test was far higher in the past – actually appears to be true
- ultra high levels were found in the past or in tribes – I was very ready to debunk this but there really are insanely high outliers that aren’t uncommon in “primitive” groups. Maybe 5% of the sample has like 1800+ test in some groups. Levels that would flag a steroid test. There’s more info on this in our article: Testosterone Levels 100 Years Ago
- working out will raise your test – very questionable.
- boot camp will raise your test – mixed.
- combat sports will raise test – maybe psychologically but these athletes can be not high test (TBI’s, excess cardio)
- combat will raise test – minor effect.
- cold exposure raises test – mixed. There’s a tendency for warm weather to raise test. One exception – researchers from India had their test go up quite a bit while spending a year in Antarctica. But there are a lot of confounding factors here. Another study found workers who were in consistently freezing conditions to have low test. However, some of the coldest places on earth (Siberia) have very high test pretty consistently.
- sun/light exposure raises test – mixed
- altitude raises test – for some reason this helps a bit but very high altitude is very bad for test. People transported to about 10k ft had a small to moderate increase in test, however, mountain villagers who live even higher than that in Central Asia have very low test, while their neighbors at lower altitude have higher test. (source)
- test moves with time of year – minor effect, test seems to be just a bit higher in the early fall and a bit lower in the late winter, broadly speaking – an effect of warmth and sun over the months seems possible. More info on that in our article: Does Testosterone vary through the year?
- I want to steer you away from minor stuff like – COLD SHOWERS, raw eggs, working out in a SPECIAL test-raising way!!!
- computer, smartphone lowers test – from psychological effect, and from emf – unknown in humans, but a few studies have found emf lowers test in rodents.
The data in text form – post 2010, age adjusted, testosterone levels (some of this data may be a bit out of date)
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||852 (Potential typo?)|
|French West Indies||563|
|China (Eastern, where most live)||480|
Important note: There are many countries I have no data from, or no usable data from. Very possibly these countries might have higher (or lower) testosterone than countries on this list.