How stress affects your sex hormones

Everyone talks about how much stress can impact your health, but do you know how much it can specifically impact your hormones?

Whether you are experiencing hormonal imbalances such as heavy periods, erectile dysfunction, low libido, or even things like breast cancer or endometrial cancer, you want to make sure that you’re assessing the amount of stress that you have and more importantly, how you’re managing stress in your life.

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What you need to know about stress

When we are in a constant chronic stressed state, we have an increased release of cortisol, one of our key stress hormones.

When cortisol is increased, initially you will have a decrease in the production and manufacturing of our sex hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, androgens, and estrogens. Initially, less progesterone will contribute to a more estrogen-dominant state. This can contribute to an increase in aromatase, which is a key enzyme in estrogen metabolism. This can contribute to things like fibroids, endometriosis, and even breast cancer.

The interesting thing is when we have long periods of stress, this will decrease the production of our androgens and estrogens so this can attribute to things like hot flashes, low libido increased stress, and our ability to manage stress. 

In essence, cortisol, influenced by our ability to manage stress, will, directly and indirectly, impact our sex hormones.

How can you begin to address stress management in your life?

Although you can’t get rid of stress, you can learn how to manage it in your life. That can involve proper sleep, proper nutrition, hydration, decreasing alcohol, as well as nervous system regulation techniques.

Please be sure to check out all my vagus nerve hack videos. You can do deep breath work, meditation, yoga, animal flow, and so on. Make sure that you are scheduling time for relaxation, and not over-scheduling yourself for obligations. 

If you are interested in making a consult for yourself, please make sure to reach out. You can check us out at themovementparadigm.com, we would love the opportunity to help you.

Need help? Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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Optimize your testosterone

Did you know that testosterone in men can decrease at the age of 30? However, that does not necessarily mean that you need hormone replacement. Today we are going to talk about the science of low T, the causes, and what you can do about it.

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Let’s first start with this — testosterone can affect men and women. However, we will focus mostly on men. The signs of low T in a man can be anything from low mood, low energy, erectile dysfunction, low libido, fatigue, poor sleep, decreased strength, and muscle mass among other things. This is something that most people associate testosterone with, but it’s important to recognize all of the other symptoms that correlate with low T. It can also lead to things like brain fog and irritability.

Many things can affect low T and it is important to dig deep to see if this is a possibility for you and how you can improve it. 

Causes of Decreased Testosterone

Now we are going to get into things that decrease testosterone. 

1. Chronic Opioid Use

One of the biggest drivers is chronic opioid use. This happens in up to 74% of chronic opioid users. That means if you are going to go play golf or work out and you pop a couple of Advil’s, remember that could be associated with your low T.  

2. Insulin Resistance

Increased visceral body fat (belly fat) is inflammatory in nature and drives insulin resistance. This can cause elevated blood sugars and lipid issues. Also, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension can all be associated with low T. 

3. Poor Sleep

This is what I see the most in my men with low T; they are experiencing poor quality sleep. That might mean not getting enough sleep, watching TV before bed, sleeping with the TV on, using their phone right before bed, or drinking alcohol right before bed. All of these things are going to tank your testosterone. 

4. Inflammatory Diets

The Standard American Diet is what many men consume. High-fat, high-sugar, and processed foods. All of these things often drive food sensitivities, inflammation, and then begin to spiral into affecting our sex hormones. In this particular case, your testosterone. 

5. Stress

Stress is what drives high cortisol. Whenever we’re thinking about how our sex hormones are affected, we want to think about adrenals first. This produces our stress hormones and an imbalance can affect the thyroid and then sex hormones. If you have high levels of stress, this may be an area to focus on. A lot of times I’ll see men that are in their 30s to 40s that are experiencing high-stress lives that have low T simply because of their lifestyle. 

6. Low Protein Diets

Men need to have at least 30 to 40 grams of high-quality, essential amino acids in every meal. This is key for optimal hormone health. We also need healthy fats!

What You Can Do About It

So, what do you do about it? First, you should get properly evaluated by a functional medicine practitioner, a hormone specialist, or a professional that can guide you and coach you through this journey. With that said, if you decide to pursue hormone replacement, you want to make sure that your lifestyle factors are dialed in.

If you are experiencing high stress, poor sleep, inflammatory diet and you decide to start hormone replacement for low T, I can assure you it will not be as effective. It is so important to address the basics first so that you can optimize your natural T before approaching your potential hormone replacement. So what other things can you do?

1. Moderate Intensity Strength Training

You want to be performing over 200 minutes a week of exercise, most importantly coming from your strength work. Strength training will naturally boost your T. It’s such an easy way to do it, but it has to be consistent just like anything else. 

2. Proper Sleep

Addressing sleep is so imperative. This requires a journey. It can be starting by just looking at your sleep hygiene and picking one thing that you could change such as blue light blockers after seven o’clock, having a set time that you go to bed and wake up, and turning the TV off 30 minutes before bed. There are lots of things that you can do to begin to shift your natural circadian rhythm so that you are optimizing your repair and restoration.

Ultimately, we want to think of testosterone as a growth and repair mechanism. When you have rotator cuff injuries, stenosis in your spine, or degenerating discs, you want to be thinking about testosterone, especially when that’s happening in your 30s, 40’s, and 50’s. Sleep can optimize your natural repair process. 

3. Intermittent Fasting 

This has been shown to be very helpful for optimizing testosterone in men. This can be done in a 16-8 window; fasting for 16 hours and feeding for eight. This has to be highly individualized to the person and their activity level. This is not for everyone. However, just know that it is something that could be explored to see how that works for you and be objective when you’re able to; look at blood work or saliva when you are testing your hormones.

4. Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are key to helping you optimize inflammation and supporting other functions in the body. One thing you could do is eat fatty fish at least two times a week if not more. Also, things like walnuts and flax seeds are great sources of omega 3’s. For a therapeutic dose of EFA, you want 3-6 g of EPA/DHA in a supplement. 

5. Zinc and Vitamin D 

These are key for low T. So please make sure that if you’re not getting enough in your diet that you are supplementing as well.

6. Botanicals

Botanicals can be very valuable in supporting natural testosterone. 

There are a lot of things that you can do to address the basics in terms of lifestyle to naturally support testosterone before you explore testosterone replacement. I think there’s a continuum and you want to make sure that you’re doing things at the right time for the right reasons and with the right guidance. I cannot stress that enough.

If you need help, please make sure to reach out. I will make sure that we take great care of you, educate you, and make sure to get you in the right direction. We also have a great support team that can also help you depending on what you need.

Give this a shot. Let me know how it goes. If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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