What is Cortisol?
Some of us are all too familiar with cortisol and the effects it has on our health. Cortisol is secreted when the body suspects we are in danger. It was originally what helped primitive man survive. Now, in our modern world, too much cortisol is produced in response to stress and often, in much larger amounts than our bodies can process. However, cortisol is also necessary for giving our body energy.
Another one of the steroid hormones, cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands. There are cells in the body that have receptors that programmed to react to cortisol. These reactions are what stimulate many necessary bodily functions. When existing in normal amounts, cortisol helps control our blood sugar levels, regulates our metabolism, reduces inflammation, and assists in the regulation of salt and water balance, which regulates blood pressure.
Overall, cortisol is crucial to our health and wellbeing, but it can also be incredibly damaging. It is a serious concern if the presence of too much cortisol is affecting your body’s production of testosterone. You can fight back by putting your hormones back in balance and working on behavior modifications that will lower the stress in your life, and alter your responses to stressful events that are out of your control. It might also be important to consider whether hormone replacement therapy would help restore the proper amounts of certain hormones that have been depleted by the presence of too much cortisol in your system.
The Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Why is Cortisol Important for the Male Body?
Signals sent through the nervous system, along with feedback from other hormones prompts your adrenal glands to release cortisol, along with adrenaline. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, and in moderate amounts, gives you the energy you need.
Men have multiple demands that they meet every day. When you are working hard to make ends meet, managing relationships at work and at home, and solving every problem as it comes up, it can seem like your body is under assault. Well, that’s because it is. Research has discovered all sorts of relationships between cortisol and other hormones and functions.
Our bodies are finely tuned and may treat minor hassles as a threat. This means it will produce the appropriate chemical surge that boosts the production of cortisol. When that happens, the body reacts in several ways. Number one, the amount of sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream increases. Functions that are not needed during the “fight or flight” means your immune system is suppressed, your digestive system slows down, and your reproductive organs (sex drive and function) become non-reactive. There is also a relationship between cortisol and sleep. All of these conditions can lower your testosterone levels.
Dr. Berman will work with you to determine how your stress response system is working to impact your hormonal balance, including the amount of cortisol your body is processing, and whether hormonal replacement therapy would help boost your depleted testosterone levels.
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What are the Benefits and Problems Related to Cortisol?
Cortisol is good when it is present in the correct amount. It contributes to a system working in a balanced way to keep everything properly regulated. From your basic heart rate to your digestive system and sex drive, everything operates at peak efficiency when the hormonal feedback loop, including cortisol, is in good working order. In proper amounts, cortisol “wakes up,” certain areas of our brain enhancing how the brain utilizes glucose, which relates to cognitive function and the regulation of blood sugar.
Cortisol also impacts our emotional life and mental health. When you encounter a perceived threat, your hypothalamus, which is basically your internal “alarm” system, sounds off. When it begins sending “fight or flight” signals, that surge of hormones we discussed earlier begins communicating with your brain, the area that regulates your moods, including motivation and fear. If your internal alarm goes off too often and stays on for too long, other basic processes are disrupted. This can cause serious health damage.
Severe depression, debilitating headaches, heart disease, weight gain, impaired memory or cognitive function, insomnia and more can be correlated to an excess of cortisol.
Of course, the number one goal should be to limit the amount of stress your body experiences on a daily basis. However, that should be combined with a hormone check, and possibly hormone therapy that puts your entire hormonal system, and therefore your bodily functions, back on track. A doctor supervised test to assess and treat cortisol levels might be very important to your health.
Schedule Your First Testosterone Therapy Appointment
Life is too important to let pressure and stress take away your health and quality of life. Cortisol, while necessary for your system, can do irreparable damage if we are not careful. For men, one direct hit our body takes when cortisol levels are too high for too long is a depletion of testosterone.
This can trigger slight fatigue to more serious conditions, such as bone loss, depression, erectile dysfunction, weight gain or a loss of muscle strength. In essence, not properly regulating the amount of testosterone vs cortisol in your system means you may lose some of the most important aspects of being a man.
If you believe cortisol might be robbing your system of testosterone, there are some practical things to consider. Exercise is a natural way to reduce some cortisol. Eating healthy can promote better health, and assist your body as it fights off the effects of stress. However, hormone replacement therapy in some cases may be necessary.
Dr. Mikhail Berman has over thirty years of experience as a medical doctor and hormone specialist. He is seeing an increase in the number of young men suffering from low levels of testosterone. There has also been an uptick in the number of older men who are recognizing that they don’t have to live with the problems that stress and low testosterone can cause. Call Dr. Berman’s clinic at (561) 841-1837, and find your energy, sex life and overall enjoyment of life renewed.