Stress and Testosterone: How Chronic-Stress Zaps your Energy
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the term stress means, but an explanation that comes rather close, goes something like this: “stress is the body’s principal method of reacting to a challenge”. To open up the term a bit more, this “reaction to challenge” can be divided into two categories.
So, short-term stress can be a good thing to have…
…Long-term stress on the other hand, why it’s so unhealthy? And how does it affect your hormonal health?
Long-Term Stress and Testosterone
There are two major reasons as to why chronic long-term stress hammers testosterone production.
Firstly, the principal stress steroid hormone; cortisol, which is released from the adrenal cortex during times of prolonged stress, has a direct testosterone suppressing effect inside the hypothalamus and testicular Leydig cells.
Secondly, the synthesis of cortisol requires cholesterol, a molecule that is also needed in the biosynthesis of testosterone. When cortisol levels skyrocket during stress, more of this essential building block goes towards creating cortisol.
Obviously those are not the only reasons that can cause messed-up T levels during prolonged stress. As a guy who battled with some serious work-related stress few years ago, I can guarantee you that increased alcohol consumption, messed up sleep quality, poor diet, lack of exercise, and depression can (and more than likely will) contribute to the stress induced reduction in testosterone.
The research on how long-term stress (both physical and mental) alters testosterone levels is rather cruel:
Bottom line: Chronic stress (be it physical or psychological) has a tendency to lower testosterone levels, and this suppressive effect is nearly always caused by elevated cortisol production.
Meditation and relaxation exercises have been very effective at lowering cortisol and increasing testosterone levels in multiple human studies (study, study, study) Just simply walking in nature (forest walking, hiking, etc), has been linked to significantly lowered cortisol levels in Japanese test subjects.
How can you combat this chronically high stress then? Try some of the tricks below.
Chronic stress is a real testosterone killer, and if you’re under “real stress” (as in something that truly fucking crumbles you) I don’t even have to tell you that, you can feel it yourself.
As a guy who has been under that kind of stress a few years ago, I know that it doesn’t help shit when someone just tells you to “stop thinking about it” or gives you some tips such as: “try to sleep more”, “exercise”, “drink more water”, etc…
…But just so you know, chronic stress really hammers your testosterone production, the quicker you can get rid of it, the better it is for your endocrine system. How you decide to do it, is completely up to you. And remember, this is all just advice.