Cortisol: What It Is and How It Affects Sexual Health

Cortisol What It Is and How It Affects Sexual Health

Have you ever heard of the term cortisol before? You probably know that it’s related to our nervous system and chronic stress, but it’s so much more than that.

Cortisol is one of the most influential glucocorticoid hormones produced by the adrenal glands, affecting everything from metabolic processes to immune system responses.

Colloquially referred to as the body’s stress hormone, this hormone is responsible for regulating your mood and response to stressful situations.

Furthermore, cortisol is also key in performing several bodily functions, in fact, this hormone holds an influence on every organ system in your body. This, as an extension, includes your sexual function.

With cortisol playing a pivotal role in our bodies, it’s important to know how elevated and abnormal levels of it can influence our sexual desire.

This article will explore the background of cortisol as well as its impact on your sex life. We’ll also touch upon ways you can keep your cortisol levels stable.

Let’s begin.

Cortisol and Its Effects on The Body

Cortisol, as mentioned earlier, is a stress hormone that’s produced by the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are two triangle-shaped glands that are responsible for making many other hormones like adrenaline and aldosterone.

Besides regulating stress, cortisol has a lot of other functions in the body, including:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Promotes immune system function
  • Increases energy
  • Shapes sleep-wake cycle
  • Regulates metabolism
  • Controls blood sugar levels

Cortisol production ramps up when there’s an increased stress response in the body, with one study indicating that mean levels can rise as much as nine times the healthy amount in times of stress. This is stimulated by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland found in the brain.

The heightened sense of alertness provided by cortisol aids us in recognizing and appropriately responding to signs of danger. In other words, as much as stress hormones can cause undue pressure on our minds and bodies, it’s a handy “danger-sense” survival tool.

However, at times, the amount of stress affects the body at a disproportionate rate that’s not relative to the actual danger of the situation.

These elevated cortisol levels can cause physiological changes that lead to dysfunction in the sympathetic nervous system and other parts of the body.

One such region where cortisol can have negative ramifications lies in one’s sex drive. Let’s dive into this connection a little closer.

The Connection Between Cortisol and Sexual Health

Cortisol is inextricably linked to our sexual wellness. It’s first important to establish the fact that sexuality is a multifaceted matter that involves physical, psychological, and mental processes.

And as cortisol also affects these areas of the body, maintaining a healthy sex life often depends on having balanced cortisol levels.

If there is an imbalance in cortisol, it may likely impact sexual health as well.

If you want to know the specifics, here are some ways in which cortisol affects sexual health, specifically in men:

  1. Lowers testosterone levels: An increased production of cortisol directly reduces the production of testosterone, a key male sex hormone, through the Leydig cells.
  2. Increases stress and blood pressure: Elevated cortisol levels can cause an increase in blood pressure.
  3. Reduces sexual arousal and libido: Cortisol engages our “fight-or-flight” response, which makes us feel more tense and tunnel-visioned to threats. This signals our body to not want to engage in non-essential activities such as sexual activity.
  4. Causes erectile dysfunction: High cortisol levels are often indicative of psychiatric problems, which can lead to psychological erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence. This can spiral further and cause depression, which can make getting out of this negative mental and sexual state even more difficult.
  5. Increases lethargy: Chronic cortisol can make you more tired, causing you to not want to have sex.
  6. Lowered sperm production and fertility: Stress negatively impacts sperm production and fertility, reducing the chance of a successful conception.

As seen above, stress can be ruinous to one’s sex life. Stress can also come with a lot of general health risks, so it’s important to seek a mental health professional to get your situation sorted out.

Symptoms of Abnormal Cortisol Levels

Symptoms of Abnormal Cortisol Levels

It’s important to recognize signs of high cortisol levels so that you can address your concerns quickly.

Here are some telltale signs that you’re dealing with abnormally high cortisol levels:

  • Muscle weakness in your arms and thighs
  • Hypertension
  • Weak bones
  • Wide, purple belly stretch marks
  • High blood sugar
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive hair growth

Low cortisol levels would have different symptoms, namely:

  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Low blood pressure

If you’re experiencing low cortisol symptoms, you may want to get checked for adrenal insufficiency. This condition can be further classified into two types.

The first one, known as primary adrenal insufficiency, occurs when your immune system attacks healthy cells for no apparent reason.

The second one, called secondary adrenal insufficiency, occurs when you have an underactive pituitary gland or a pituitary tumor.

In either case, you would need prompt treatment following this diagnosis.

Managing Cortisol: Lifestyle and Dietary Considerations

If you want to improve your sexual wellbeing, you should always make it a priority to manage your cortisol levels.

Fortunately, there are ways you can lower your cortisol levels and maintain your overall health. This includes:

  • Sleeping at least 7 hours a night
  • Practicing deep breathing exercises
  • Participating in hobbies
  • Eating healthily and losing weight
  • Socializing with family and friends
  • Inhibit stressful thinking patterns
  • Getting CBT counseling

By upholding these positive lifestyle changes, you can reduce stress and keep your body equipped to deal with connected problems later in life, like increased cortisol and erectile dysfunction.

Cure Sexual Dysfunction Caused By Stress and More at Atlanta, Georgia’s Top Male Clinic

Cure Sexual Dysfunction Caused By Stress and More at Atlanta Georgia’s Top Male Clinic

Cortisol is a hormone that causes men to face psychological stress. If you have abnormal levels of it, it can cause sexual dysfunction.

The best way to treat abnormal cortisol levels for good is by talking to the right medical professional and getting appropriate treatment for it.

The team at Priority Men’s Medical Center offers patients a wide range of treatments, including (but not limited to), ED treatment, andropause therapy, testosterone therapy, and RestoreWave therapy.

Schedule a consultation with us to regain control of your sexual performance and have a more satisfying sex life today. Your initial consultation and first treatment are completely free.

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