Here’s a question that hits my inbox several times a month….
Can Adrenal Fatigue Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
The short is, probably not.
Because the latest research has all but proven that adrenal fatigue isn’t really a disease.
It’s a cluster of symptoms that involves much more than just the adrenal glands.
As a matter of fact, you can’t even test for adrenal fatigue because medical testing for the condition does not exist.
Which makes perfect sense, because how can you test something that isn’t real?
That being said, you can develop a deficiency of adrenal hormones…
Or your adrenals may start spitting out hormones that you don’t want or need that can negatively impact your erections.
If this is the case, you need to take your focus off adrenal fatigue and focus on the real problem at hand.
Obstructive sleep apnea can radically disrupt sleep, leading to a major disruption of hormones and brain neurotransmitters.
So in the case, you’d be much better off treating the apnea, instead of wasting time on your adrenals.
But what erections and morning wood?
Well, instead of asking yourself, does adrenal fatigue cause erectile dysfunction, you should be asking yourself, what’s not working in my life right now?
Do you have metabolic syndrome? High estrogen? Depression? Anxiety. Major stress in your life?
If so, take steps to treat this problem, and your ED issues will be taken care of by default.
Or put another way, treat your erectile dysfunction holistically, take the wide approach, and strive to achieve a healthy body, from top to bottom.
Do this and your system will give you exactly what you need to create healthy, organic erections, just the way mother nature intended.
How here’s David Jaynes with his take on this subject…
There is a lot of disinformation out there about adrenal fatigue.
For every five websites telling you it’s the worst disease since the plague, there are another five telling you it doesn’t even exist.
I figured it was time I got to the bottom of this debate, and here’s what I found:
Adrenal fatigue, while it can be symptomatic of other problems, it’s not a disease in its own right.
What Do The Adrenal Glands Do
To understand adrenal fatigue, we need to step back a little and understand what the adrenal glands actually do.
The adrenal glands are responsible for helping you out of fight-or-flight situations.
When you feel like your life is in danger (e.g. if a lion is chasing you) your brain gets a big hit of epinephrine.
This makes your blood pressure go up, makes you start to sweat, and increases your heart rate.
All of this is to give you a boost of speed to out-run any predator that your body assumes is hunting you.
The problem though is that while epinephrine is great for that initial burst, what happens if the tiger keeps chasing you?
While your brain is hard at work releasing epinephrine, it also sends signals to your adrenal glands to start cranking out cortisol and adrenaline.
These hormones (often called the stress hormones) help get glucose to your muscles so they have energy for a longer race.
That’s how it’s supposed to work. But what happens when it doesn’t work that way?
Adrenal fatigue is supposedly when your adrenal glands are too burned out to produce stress hormones at the levels that your body requires.
This traditional model of adrenal fatigue goes something like this:
Phase 1: Alarm
In this stage, your adrenal glands are functioning essentially normally, but are beginning to be overworked because of a continued stressful environment (e.g. work stress).
Phase 2: Declining response
The adrenal glands are unable to respond any more to the demands you’ve put on them. Stress hormones remain high but symptoms begin to appear (e.g. tiredness, irritability, low sex drive).
Phase 3: Exhaustion
Your adrenal glands are unable to produce adequate stress hormones. Levels begin to drop. Your body starts to respond by breaking down muscles and protein to maintain high energy levels.
Phase 4: Adrenal Failure
You actually need stress hormones to live, and without them you will die. This is the final stage of adrenal fatigue – where you will require immediate medical attention.
That’s the story of adrenal fatigue – a slow path of over production leading to exhaustion, falling production, and eventually, death.
However, that’s not the whole story…
I’m not denying the basic problem of poorly regulated stress response. I’m just not convinced that overworked adrenal glands is the core cause.
First, adrenal fatigue suggests that the adrenal glands work in a silo.
In reality though, the adrenal glands only produce cortisol and other stress hormones in response to what signals they get sent.
Signals that come from lots of different structures in your body including:
• Mesencephalic reticular formation (MRF)
It’s not reasonable to pin stress hormone levels solely on the production centre and ignore all the signals telling that production line how much and when to produce.
Second, there’s little evidence that the adrenal glands experience fatigue in this set order.
Its possible for someone (for example, someone diagnosed Addison’s Disease) to go straight from Phase 1 to Phase 3/4.
Third, there are other factors that would drive high cortisol levels and poor cortisol regulation.
Inadequate inputs – if you’re not giving your body the right stuff it’s not going to be able to produce cortisol, etc. (phase 3/4)
Excessive stress – we see again and again that high stress leads to high levels of stress hormones (phase 1/2)
And finally, there’s no scientific evidence that your adrenal glands ‘get tired’.
To quote the Endocrine Society:
“‘Adrenal fatigue’ is not a real medical condition. There are no scientific facts to support the theory that long-term mental, emotional, or physical stress drains the adrenal glands and causes many common symptoms.”(source)
With all this in mind, we can conclude that adrenal fatigue is not a disease in its own right.
However, that doesn’t mean that many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue aren’t real.
It just means that it’s a more general problem of poor hormone regulation rather than a specific problem of adrenal burnout.
When it comes to your erections, your adrenal glands (tired or not) play a major role.
And while adrenal fatigue isn’t real, the symptoms attributed to it – are symptoms that can have a major impact on your erections.
Here are the most common symptoms associated with adrenal problems, their real cause, and what you can do about it.
The original trigger of adrenal issues, high cortisol levels are a result of too much stress. Stress definitely impacts your ability to get it up.
Solution? Less stress in your life.
Poor cortisol regulation, manifesting as high cortisol, can also disrupt sleep and negative impact your circadian rhythms.
Unfortunately, poor sleep can definitely have an impact on your morning wood. Without enough REM sleep, your morning wood will definitely disappear on you.
Get more sleep! Cut caffeine and booze at night, take ZMA, and set up a sleep routine.
Finally, high cortisol can be caused by extremely low testosterone.
When one hormone is out of balance (e.g. testosterone) others can over-produce to compensate.
This might be happening to you, and obviously it’s going to have a pretty serious impact on your morning wood.
Work on naturally increasing your testosterone naturally, with muscle building exercise, sunlight exposure and by taking things like pine pollen and tongkat ali.
In phase 2-3 of the traditional model of adrenal fatigue, your cortisol levels drop to the point that (as the theory goes) you’ll eventually die.
Like high cortisol though, low cortisol levels are far more likely to be symptomatic of another problem, rather than being caused by adrenal fatigue.
For example, not having enough inputs into your system, specifically cholesterol, Acetyl coenzyme A, and vitamin B5, could produce low cortisol.
Fortunately, so long as your cortisol levels remain functioning at healthy levels, this shouldn’t impact your morning wood at all.
In general, men today are far more likely to have cortisol that is too high, and should focus on getting it down in order to get it up.
Like I said at the beginning of this article, adrenal fatigue isn’t a disease. Cortisol levels and other stress hormones that are out of whack are usually symptomatic of other problems.
•Abnormally low testosterone levels (and high cortisol can actually contribute here too)
•Inadequate REM sleep
•High levels of sustained stress (and all the other negatives that brings on)
The long and short of it is that yes – your cortisol might be too high or too low.
But before you assume that your adrenal glands are letting you and your erections down….
I’d suggest you try and solve some of the other potentially underlying problems first to see if that brings your stress hormones (and thus your wood) back into the bedroom.