Chronic Stress Kills Testosterone
The Takeaway First
If your sex life is suffering, stress may be the culprit. New research suggests that chronic, overwhelming stress can lower testosterone levels and get in the way of sex. It also suggests that regular sex can help to modulate some but not all of the damaging effects of chronic stress. The best way to protect your T, though, is to take it easy.
- The study examined the effect of chronic stress on the bodies and sexual behavior of rats.
- The researchers introduced stress into one group of rats in the form of regular, forced swimming. (Rats generally do not like to swim.)
- Rats that were chronically stressed ejaculated less frequently and took longer to ejaculate than control rats. After 20 days of chronic stress, their testosterone levels significantly decreased.
- Regular copulations reduced some of the negative effects of stress such that the stressed rats resembled control rats. However, copulation did not ameliorate the drop in testosterone.
- The testicles of stressed rats that were not allowed to copulate shrunk slightly over the course of the trial.
My Take On Stress
It has been more than two weeks since the beginning of the New Year, and we have all started to revert to our normal routine. Odds are that we are finding ourselves just as chronically stressed as we were in 2014. This, as the research suggests, can wreak havoc on our testosterone levels and, ultimately, our sexual behavior.
Animal studies like Retana-Márquez et al. (2014) are excellent gateways to human research, and they can help us predict what might happen in human beings under similar conditions. The stressed behavior of these rats confirm our intuitions that sex can be difficult in times of high stress. What’s interesting about this study is that there was also a group of rats that were not allowed to have sex during the entire trial. It’s no surprise that these rats suffered the most. To me, this means that sex and stress have a complicated relationship. On the one hand, stress hurts sex. On the other hand, sex can ease the damage of stress. But the most important detail of this study, regardless of this complex aspect, is that stress lowered the rats’ testosterone and disturbed their sex lives.
These rats remind us that managing stress is crucial for all aspects of our health. When I’m designing a lifestyle plan for someone, I always take into account the whole person. Not only do I take into account physical factors such as diet, body composition, and activity patterns, but I also consider the physical and psychological stress caused by his work, his general outlook, and his family life. Many male health issues have complex origins that cannot be solved by popping a pill. Low testosterone is one of these issues.
What Should you do to beat Stress
If you’re looking to gain some extra stamina in the bedroom, don’t look for easy, pill-shaped answers. I suggest instead that you cut your chronic stress. Despite the potential for sex to help us cope with stress, it is not a solution for low testosterone levels.
4 powerful methods to beating stress:
- Take 5 big belly breaths two times a day.
- Download the Headspace app and listen to it – it’s really good
- Change your perspective. Your perspective is the reality you are creating.
- Reset your adrenal glands by eating right. The adrenals take a beating when you are chronically stressed causing havoc in your body. Pick up the book The Adrenal Reset Diet by Dr. Alan Christianson- It is an awesome read.
Retana-Márquez, S., Vigueras-Villaseñor, R. M., Juárez-Rojas, L., Aragón-Martínez, A., & Reyes Torres, G. (2014). Sexual behavior attenuates the effects of chronic stress in body weight, testes, sexual accessory glands, and plasma testosterone in male rats. Hormones and Behavior, 66(5), 766-778. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.09.002