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Men’s Sexual Health And Over-Training (Part 1)

Men’s Sexual Health And Over-Training (Part 1) | Mr Vitamins
This Valentine’s Day - instead of hallmark cards and roses - how about we speak about Men’s Sexual Health and how overtraining can affect hormones.
  • Are you eating “well”?
  • Are you working out – every day?
  • Not able to connect the dots as to why you feel the way you do even though you are doingeverything you think you should? Groggy when getting up? Hard to get to sleep? Exhausted and have a constant feeling of being “run down”?

Have you ever considered 'Over-Training'

Here are some symptoms that can be common in those who fall into the trap of over-training:  Common themes
  • Inability to shift weight especially in the abdominal area even though you may think you are exercising correctly and eating well
  • Thinking training means you can eat anything
  • Under-eating and over-exercising, especially restricting carbohydrates
  • Personality – not being able to say no to commitments, over scheduling, the need to feel busy and always doing something, never resting.
  • Perfectionism – constantly having to tick off the to-do lists
  • History of emotional or physical trauma
  • Shift workers
  • Over-training – over exercising and not allowing rest, recovery and restoration
  • Hours at Job – satisfaction of oneself at work
  • Poor diet or current dietary habits are shifting, for example, reaching for snacks or packaged goods you wouldn’t usually have all the time, increased need for Caffeine and consumption of chocolate or sugars
Common Symptoms  
  • Fatigue – unrelenting – sudden, need for more sleep but more sleep doesn’t help
  • Hormonal dysregulation –moody, snappy, angry, low testosterone, high cortisol, 
  • Unable to fall asleep in a timely manner, waking unrefreshed
  • Loss of libido, energy and drive, ambition
  • Increased fear and anxiety – racing heart upon waking
  • Foggy thinking, concentration and memory problems
  • Snappy, short fuse, angry for no reason.  Hypoglycaemia syndrome or as I like to call it “hangry”, feeling angry when you haven’t eaten.
  • Sugar and salt cravings
  • Immune system taking a dive
  • Nausea – unable to eat in the morning.  Weight Loss.  Inability to lose weight even when “eating right”
  • Need for too many stimulants to get you through the day.  Feeling better in the evenings – more energy at night
  • Stimulants no longer working – needing more and more Caffeine
  • Digestion - Sudden allergies, changes in bowel movements, reflux, constipation, diarrhoea
  • Infertility – hormone changes, premenstrual syndrome worsening
Everyone knows that exercise has long been prescribed and has positive effects for our health. It Lowers blood pressure, increases cardiac output, reduces stress, helps keep that extra weight off and so on. There is a point however of training where I often see people get to when it starts to become detrimental. That’s right detrimental. Stressful and Damaging to one’s health and sexual function.

How the body perceives stress

Stress comes in all shapes and sizes in today’s modern world. Whether that be emotional (trauma, dealing with negative people around you, work stress), situational (traffic, relationships, circumstances, lifestyle), the list goes on. Believe it or not, exercise is perceived by your body the same as stress, whether you like it or not. The body biochemically goes under load and stress when you exercise, the same as when you are under emotional stress. Chronic stress states occur with over training (and often under eating, but more on this later) this can be common in runners and be linked to problems via the hypothalamic-pituitary axis altering the nervous system which then goes on to affect sleep, mood, libido, the immune system and hormones, to name a few! Over a long period of time if someone already has a stressful life, job, worries, busyness, and adds in overtraining to their schedule this can cause a physical depletion creating a cascade on the endocrine system (The system involved in regulating metabolism, hormones and the like). This is often gets named adrenal insufficiency – most of the time this is when people can reach for pre-workout mixes high in caffeine or supplements to try and boost their energy to be able train somemore. (AHHHH!)  The reduction in proper hormone synthesis can cause the individual over time to reduce their ability to cope with said stress….

Nerdy Tips

Cortisol slows the immune systems inflammatory responses and balances insulin which is important for the metabolism of glucose for energy (you won’t have enough glucose for energy if you are on a low carb diet, carbohydrates are needed for your first line energy fuel and even more so if you are doing high intensity exercise).

Thinking about your Macro counts all the time? Did you know if you deplete your cortisol you are messing with the metabolism of said Macros? Metabolism of Proteins, Fats, Carbohydrates, this metabolism you speak of heavily relies on Cortisol’s healthy balance. Cortisol stimulates the liver to raise blood sugar as we need it, often in response to metabolic demand such as exercise and you guessed it…. STRESS.

If you are not having enough Carbohydrates for Training you deplete Cortisol and therefore the body responds by HOLDING ONTO FATS as it automatically goes into safety mode and will not budge as it thinks its in trouble – true story!

Are you a male reading this with low libido and fatigue? When’s the last time you checked in with your own sexual health ?

Over-training is a common problem and can result in or be described as Chronic Fatigue and/or Burnout. An imbalance between competing and training versus recovery is the main culprit.

Training alone is not the primary cause rather the amount of stress the person feels exceeding the capacity to “cope”. A triggering of stressful events or series of them, or even “no time to rest” followed by excessive periods of over-training and lack of sleep pushes individuals into the development of stress symptoms.

Click here to read Part 2 - Adrenal Insufficiency and how to look after yourself.