Recently, I was part of a discussion around the idea that texting was possibly messing around with our hormones. I’m not surprised by much these days, when it comes to how our amazing bodies have to adapt to overcome challenges and the conditions we subject ourselves – I just saw this as just another interesting fact and I was keen to understand more.
The conversation was based around posture, and how the position we hold our phones in when we text affects our hormones because it places stress on the body. We know what stress does (and if you don’t HERE’S how you can learn and how to better fix that) by way of messing around with the right balance of hormones as cortisol, one of our major stress hormones, substantially impacts our sex hormones since it’s designed to shut everything else down and pull rank in order to ‘save us’. But what I didn’t realise, is that certain movements can either increase or decrease specific hormones in the body. Let’s start by looking at testosterone.
Now men and women alike need testosterone – where we often go wrong is getting the balance right, which isn’t something we can always control. What we can do is to choose better, to influence how our bodies react to life.
Testosterone is the hormone of vitality and confidence.
It’s very common that we see hormone imbalance of excess testosterone – i.e. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or infertility. But the opposite end of the scale will equally lead to a host of symptoms if testosterone isn’t adequately present. All our sex hormones are derived from cholesterol (which is why I bang on about why fats and protein are so important for hormone health), which your body then turns into pregnenolone – the mother of all hormones in which other hormones are made. Normally, your adrenals convert pregnenolone into progesterone or DHEA – another stress hormone and a precursor to testosterone. But when you are under chronic stress, this doesn’t happen, and we continue to make more cortisol to cope. Cortisol is taken from pregnenolone which then sees our other hormone levels fall. The trick is to understand what is going on to set about change. Over time our bodies can’t maintain high cortisol and as a result we experience a crash resulting in low cortisol. How do you know if this happens? We tend to feel exhausted and burnt out.
Feel confused? It’s ok, just know this. No matter what, it’s all related and all hormones rely on the next to get stuff done.
The symptoms of low testosterone can be confused with other common hormone imbalance symptoms, since part of the issue lies in the fact that your body needs quality testosterone to create healthy oestrogen. As always, using your symptoms as a guide can really help get to the bottom of our health (or lack of).
Symptoms of low testosterone include weight gain, low libido, mood swings, depression, exhaustion, hair loss and difficulty concentrating.
The best way of really understanding what your hormones are doing is having the correct testing done, but if these symptoms sound like you, I urge you to first try on some lifestyle strategies that may persuade your hormones in the right direction. Chances are, you’ll see some great improvements. This also tells you that whilst commonly our health concerns seem serious, it’s what we are doing day to day that may be contributing. I always find it refreshing to know that I can switch things up and make a change for a brighter tomorrow.
So how do you support healthy testosterone? Here are a few ideas:
It’s all about the right kind of movement. Actions that pull your arms away from your body (think about winning a race and how we hold our arms up in all glory) help promote healthy testosterone which is why your mobile phone posture is doing the opposite. It is not testosterone promoting to be hunched over with our arms in front of us texting. Yoga and pilates are two great examples of movements that open up our body to really support healthy hormones or grab a stretch band and practice this opening exercise of pulling it out and in, in front of your body.
- Eat for healthy hormones.
As mentioned, fats and proteins are the building blocks for your sex hormones. Including these at every meal is key.
- Manage your cortisol.
That pesky and bossy stress hormone will absolutely affect your testosterone making ability. It’s a tricky one to manage but it all starts with better lifestyle choices. Debunking Stress is my go to.
Back to those phones – I found another layer to add to this as I researched for this article. Texting and messaging via our phones can also be a trap as it doesn’t allow us to articulate fully our thoughts and feelings. Equally we can misread texts and the context in that they are intended. In my research I’ve found that it’s believed that speech as it turns out, is capable of altering human biology in a positive way as it strengthens and supports the bond between humans because we release feel good hormones. This will help to reduce levels of cortisol (I know right – you see where I’m going here?) causing hormone changes in the body.
Here’s what I found in a study – Instant messages vs. speech (1).
“In order to tease apart these elements of human communication, we examined the hormonal responses of female children who instant messaged their mothers after undergoing a stressor. We discovered that unlike children interacting with their mothers in person or over the phone, girls who instant messaged did not release oxytocin; instead, these participants showed levels of salivary cortisol as high as control subjects who did not interact with their parents at all. We conclude that the comforting sound of a familiar voice is responsible for the hormonal differences observed and, hence, that similar differences may be seen in other species using vocal cues to communicate.”
WE are so fascinating and equally so blinded by technology we’ve lost logic. This is telling us that texting isn’t only posturally upsetting hormone balance, but also on a subconscious level too which inadvertently is upsetting our hormones. If we are trying to solve issues via text (because lets face it, sometimes it can seem less confrontational), it may not be the answer!
That’s not to mention the electromagnetic fields (EMF) of phones and laptops that are also impacting our hormones and our cortisol levels. Countless studies have confirmed this and something I think warrants a separate post to really talk about how it is specifically upsetting the balance our bodies crave.
So, it all boils back to how you can do things differently to really help to support your hormones to get the balance right. My best suggestions are to move your body, nourish yourself and put that phone down regularly! Starting simply will absolutely set up the foundation for a happier, healthier you.
1. Instant messages vs. speech: hormones and why we still need to hear each other.
Published in final edited form as:
Evol Hum Behav. 2012 Jan; 33(1): 42–45.