Stress and Low Testosterone: Interrupting the Cycle
2020 was a year of disruptions to work, school, childcare, travel, recreation, and our health. Nobody was immune to the stress these interruptions caused.
As the repeated adjusting to new routines continues into the new year, we must be mindful of the potential for stress to damage our health. That includes the role of stress in hormone imbalances like low testosterone.
Although the exact relationship between stress and low testosterone remains unclear, there are some things that are known for certain. One fact is that stress often manifests itself in subtle ways that interrupt our body’s natural functions. For example:
- Loss of motivation to exercise
- Unhealthy dietary choices
- Poor sleep patterns
Each of these is a risk factor that contributes to low testosterone levels, and their compounding effects can be severe—stress can contribute to lower testosterone levels, and insufficient testosterone levels can lead to the following:
- Low libido
- Weight control problems
Experiencing these symptoms undoubtedly increases feelings of stress that drive testosterone levels even lower, worsening the symptoms further. The intertwined physiological relationship becomes visible as we connect the dots.
If you’re suffering from high stress levels and declining testosterone, 2021 could be the year you disrupt the vicious cycle that is lowering your quality of life.
Here are 4 things you can do to get back on track to feeling like yourself again:
1. Proactively Improve Your Sleep Health
Stress can cause poor sleep, and the majority of your daily testosterone production that fuels your body’s critical systems occurs during sleep.
When sleep is insufficient or irregular, the body seems to fall into a state of general instability, never having enough time to restore depleted testosterone levels.
Poor sleep also contributes to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Frequently elevated cortisol keeps your body’s fight-or-flight mechanism activated, which increases glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream and curbs bodily functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a crisis situation.
Chronic cortisol elevation can alter your immune system responses and suppress your digestive system, your reproductive system, and your growth processes—all of which can contribute to irregular levels of testosterone and other critical hormones.
Simply put, your body cannot maintain healthy, stable testosterone levels without sufficient sleep.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following for improving sleep hygiene and better health:
- Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and free from electronic devices
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
- Exercise during the day to help you fall asleep more easily
2. Increase Exercise
If you’re on the borderline of low testosterone, and you find yourself dipping into systematic territory from time to time, increased exercise is a great place to start looking for answers.
Yoga is highly recommended because the combination of mind and body practices, a combination of physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation or relaxation, may help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lower your heart rate.
These benefits also contribute to better sleep.
While exercise isn’t itself a cure for low testosterone, it can help to boost your natural testosterone production and reduce your stress levels.
3. Lose Some Weight
Not feeling well overall due to poor health is a definite contributor to stress, and stress often leads to poor eating habits. Poor eating habits, combined with fatigue, often lead to weight problems.
Research is finding that the amount of weight you carry around your belly and waist may be a both a sign and symptom of low testosterone. Large amounts of belly fat produce estrogen, driving testosterone levels even lower.
Also, the connection between low testosterone, obesity, and diabetes is constantly confirmed by newer and more reliable medical studies.
If you’re having trouble controlling your weight despite healthy eating habits, you may be caught in the stress-and-low-testosterone cycle.
Lifestyle Changes—Shaping a Positive Cycle of Health
We’ve seen how the negative cycle of health forms and sustains itself, and there is a flip side—a positive cycle that can reduce stress, improve your overall health, and contribute to healthier testosterone production.
That positive cycle involves lower stress levels, better sleep, increased motivation to exercise, and a possible boost to testosterone production, the benefits of one factor exponentially boosts the benefits of the others.
These lifestyle changes (and their benefits) are easy to plan, but they’ll take effort to implement and dedication to sustain long enough to see real and lasting improvements.
Change is never easy, especially if you’re already experiencing anxiety, fatigue, and possibly even mild depressive moods due to the cycle of low testosterone and stress—it may be time for medical intervention.
4. Consult a Medical Professional If TRT Is Right for You
If you identify with that description, it’s time for a conversation with a medical provider about TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy). Request a thorough evaluation and, if necessary, the development of a proper treatment plan that could restore your hormone levels and decrease the health risks associated with the cycle of low testosterone and stress.
Our all-inclusive TRT guide provides the facts and answers the most common questions about the treatment of low testosterone.