Stress And Testosterone
There are various definitions of “stress”. Healthcare providers define stress as body’s response to an opposition, challenge or provocation.” Stress can be divided into two groups:
- Short term stress
- Long term stress
Short Term Stress
This type of stress is a result of sudden challenge or stimulation, such as fight or mean argument. When a person is exposed to this type of stress, it stimulates the release of stress hormones such as glucocorticoids a.k.a. stress hormones and provokes person to grapple or challenge back to that annoyance. Such kind of stress does not do any harm to the health and subsides easily. In fact, many healthcare providers believe these harmless small challenges are good for health.
Long Term Stress
Long term stress has potential for destroying the health because it keeps stress hormones elevated for longer period. Example of long term stress includes, a heavy debt to be payed, constant pressure at work place or issues in relationships. A long-term stress has detrimental effects on the endocrine system.
Stress And Testosterone
Constant stress can lower down testosterone levels due to several reasons. Among glucocorticoids, cortisol is the main stress hormone which is released from adrenal cortex when a person is in stressful condition. This hormone suppresses testosterone formation in the hypothalamus and leydig cells found in the testicles. Thus, testosterone levels drop down.
Besides this, cholesterol is a building block for both cortisol and testosterone. During stress, cortisol is at its peak and all the cholesterol units gets engaged in building cortisol.
These were physiological mechanisms that alters testosterone secretion. However, there are other factors as well that contributes in lowering T levels. For instance, a man who is in stress for extended time will indulge into smoking, alcohol and will have poor eating habits and lack of physical activities. All these factors will add up to the stress related decline in the testosterone levels.
There are numerous research studies that supports this relationship. In various animal studies, it is found that any kind of long term stress (including, confinement, noise, surgery, chronic stress, oxidative stress) can greatly reduce testosterone level in different species. Nearly all studies indicate that decreasing testosterone and increasing cortisol were observed conjointly and the reduction in T levels were only due to suppressed production.
Research studies conducted on military men indicates that the long-term stress due to fear of death or combat markedly reduces production of testosterone. Similar, psychological exertion on refugees lead to low levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormones along with increased levels of cortisol.
Other than military, men facing chronic stress or depression due to extended stressful conditions also face suppressed T levels. Stress of undergoing any surgical procedure can greatly exert stress. The degree of stress depends upon the severity of surgery.
How To Manage Chronic Stress?
One can lower down cortisol and increase T levels by:
- Relaxing exercise and meditation
- Hiking or walking in greenery
- Use of adaptogenic herbs i.e. (Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, Shilajit, etc)
- Having good sleep
- Intake of vitamin C
- Light exercise (cardio is not recommended as it can increase already elevated cortisol)
- Adding carbohydrates to diet
- Testosterone can be boosted up to 20% and cortisol can be reduced by 25% with simple posture hack
- Atashfaraz, E., Farokhi, F., & Najafi, G. (2013). Protective effect of ethyl pyruvate on epididymal sperm characteristics, oxidative stress and testosterone level in methotrexate treated mice. Journal of reproduction & infertility, 14(4), 190.
- Lynn, S. E., Perfito, N., Guardado, D., & Bentley, G. E. (2015). Food, stress, and circulating testosterone: cue integration by the testes, not the brain, in male zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). General and comparative endocrinology, 215, 1-9.
- Reijnen, A., Geuze, E., & Vermetten, E. (2015). The effect of deployment to a combat zone on testosterone levels and the association with the development of posttraumatic stress symptoms: a longitudinal prospective Dutch military cohort study. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 51, 525-533.