Cortisol in Men
Elevated cortisol is a huge problem for many men and will destroy everything you
hold dear as a male. In fact, it is actually astonishing how much damage
one hormone can do. Testosterone can boost your career, relationships and
sex life. Cortisol will undo the same and tear you apart head to toe.
Don't believe me? Check out these 10 research-backed reasons that
(elevated) cortisol and manliness just do not go together well:
1. Visceral Fat. It is no secret that visceral (stomach or belly) fat kills. It
is associated with
Metabolic Syndrome and many other nasty diseases that can
lead you and your sex life. What many men do not realize is that cortisol
actually helps push fat to the abdomen , because, among other things, visceral
fat has four times the number of cortisol receptors. 
So why do men tend toward abdominal obesity? Yep - the have great
"cortisol reactivity", i.e. when under stress, they have higher cortisol levels
than women.  Well, and they just tend to have higher cortisol levels.  This, on average, makes them much more susceptible to inflating
that "spare tire". You can read more about it in my link on
and Abdominal Obesity.
2. Testosterone. Several studies have found that elevated cortisol leads
to lowered testosterone levels.  How does cortisol attack your testosterone?
It actually does this through an enzyme that affects testosterone in the
Leydig cells of the testes. See my link on
Stress and Testosterone for more
3. Secondary Hypogonadism. Researchers have reported that in some
extreme cases stress can cause secondary hypogonadism, which means clinically
low testosterone resulting from failure in the signaling to the testes and not
the testes themselves. This can happen from being overweight, for example,
because excess body fat can turn off proper signaling from the hypothalamus.
Well, it turns out that excess cortisol can do something similar, i.e. lower
GnRH output from the hypothalamus.  Of course, GnRH is what signals the
4. Insulin Resistance and Blood Glucose. Higher cortisol levels
are associated with increased insulin resistance and elevated blood glucose
5. Memory Loss
and Brain Shrinkage.. A number of studies have shown that higher-than-normal,
cortisol levels can damage the hippocampus, the seat of memory for all humans.
 Furthermore, several structures of the brain, especially the hippocampus,
have been shown to actually shrink with long term cortisol exposure. 
NOTE: If you feel you have likely damaged and/or shrunk your brain matter
due to excess stress/cortisol, don't panic. Researchers have found good
evidence that the brain shrinkage is actually reversible (to one degree or
another) for a number of high-cortisol conditions, including depression  and
Cushing's . The reversibility (significant but partial) of Cushing's
Syndrome brain matter loss is particularly significant considering the severity
of the disease.
In addition, you can likely rebuild and increase your brain through mindfulness
meditation  or the vispanna meditation. 
Progressive Muscle Relaxation will certainly protect your
hippocampus from damage and may help to rebuild it as well.
CAUTION: Some psychiatric illnesses (PTSD, i.e. Post-traumatic Stress
Syndrome are actually characterized by low serus cortisol levels. This is
probably due to overexcitation of cortisol for many years.
6. Blood Pressure. It is no secret that stress raises blood pressure
and can be a significant factor in hypertension. So it should be no shock that
the primary stress hormone, cortisol, has been found in multiple studies to
raise blood pressure.  Of course, hypertension is a leading cause as I
document in my link on
High Blood Pressure and Erectile Dysfunction.
Arteriosclerosis. One study verified 5 and 6 but also found that, not too surprisingly,
that higher morning cortisol levels were associated with accelerated arteriosclerosis,
i.e. arterial plaque. 
8. Neuroticism and Depression. Higher morning cortisol levels have been
associated with your odds of being neurotic  and may also play a role in
developing depression. 
9. Metabolic Syndrome. Thanks to #1, many researchers believe that
elevated cortisol may be the primary cause of the Metabolic Syndrome.
 Visceral fat and insulin resistance go hand-in-hand, so this is no
wonder. Several studies have shown that stress and Metabolic Syndrome are
related giving still more evidence to this relationship. 
10. Diabetes. With the decreases in insulin sensitivity and the increases
in blood glucose very often comes Type II diabetes according to the latest
research as well.
11. Cholesterol. Ever feel like you're fighting a losing battle with
your cholesterol levels. Well, the primary reason is likely
but cortisol can play a role as well and studies have shown that elevated
cortisol can in turn elevate cholesterol levels as well. 
12. Erectile Dysfunction. Stress has been tied into erectile dysfucntion
and itis no wonder considering that it almost always raises cortisol, which in
turn raises so many cardiovascular risk factors. 
So how do you get cortisol under control. See my links on
Management and Progressive Muscle Relaxation for practical and natural answers.
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