Does Intense Exercise decrease testosterone levels?

Most of us read that exercise can help in increasing testosterone levels, Yes it is true. But scientists also have reported that excessive and intense exercise can also cause a lowering of testosterone levels also known as Hypogonadism.

What? Is it true that intense exercise can cause hypogonadism?

Everyone speaks about the pros of exercising and being physically active and thereby most of the nations have promoted people to stay physically active.

Yes, it is true, physical activity is one the best natural ways to stay healthy but over-exercising can cause endocrine-dysfunction by promoting changes in circulating hormone levels.

What is Hypogonadism?

Hypogonadism is a deficiency in the production of testosterone.

There are two types of hypogonadism

  1. Primary – This type of hypogonadism is caused due problems in the testicles.
  2. Secondary – This type of hypogonadism due to problems in the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland—which signals the testicles to produce testosterone.

Hypogonadism is characterized by not just low testosterone but includes at least one clinical sign or symptom. Overt signs of hypogonadism include

  1. Absence or regression of secondary sex characteristics
  2. Anemia
  3. muscle wasting
  4. Reduced bone mass or bone mineral density
  5. Oligospermia
  6. Abdominal adiposity.
  7. Symptoms include sexual dysfunction (e.g., erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, diminished penile sensation, difficulty attaining orgasm, and reduced ejaculate)
  8. Reduced energy
  9. Reduced Stamina
  10. Depressed mood
  11. Increased irritability
  12. Difficulty concentrating
  13. Changes in cholesterol levels
  14. Anemia
  15. Osteoporosis
  16. Hot flushes.

How intense exercising can cause Hypogonadism?

Before talking about hypogonadism due to over-exercising, We need to talk about overtraining syndrome caused due to intense exercising.

Overtraining occurs when a person exceeds their body’s ability to recover from strenuous exercise.

The symptoms of overtraining include

FatigueInsomniaDeclining performance
DepressionIrritabilityAnorexia—weight loss
BradycardiaAgitationLack of mental concentration
Loss of motivationTachycardiaHeavy, sore stiff muscles
Abnormal heart rate during recoveryRestlessnessAwaking unrefreshed
Increased basal metabolic rateEndocrine abnormalities (e.g., low testosterone, elevated cortisol, low thyroid hormones)

Most of the studies reported that Overtraining syndrome is the cause of low testosterone levels in men who do intense exercise.

Researchers and doctors proposed two types of mechanisms for the cause of low testosterone levels due to overtraining syndrome.

  1. Deficiency of testosterone production due to cortisol hormone. Cortisol and Testosterone are inversely related. The increase in the cortisol levels causes a decrease in the testosterone levels.

The levels of Cortisol are increased in overtraining syndrome due to the increase in the stress levels. 

  1. Less energy intake or caloric intake suppressing the hypothalamus axis causing the testes to produce low testosterone.

So, anything in excess is not good for the health of humans. Hypogonadism due to intense exercising is caused by the overtraining syndrome. Limited exercise which can help us stay healthy is advised.

%d bloggers like this: