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Why Do Men And Women React Differently To Stress?

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When in stress, women release oxytocin that makes them feel secure and nurturing. Men, instead, release testosterone that gives them a sense of accomplishment. These are self-boosting de-stress cycles. Cortisol (stress hormone) both induces and opposes the two hormones, making the fight against stress a constant struggle. Women are inherently more stressed than men.

Women need to understand that men require “cave time” to wind down when they come home and flop down on the couch in front of the TV or read the paper. That is how they replenish their testosterone, and disturbing them too soon will not allow them to adequately restore their hormone levels.

Testosterone Versus Oxytocin

When a man’s testosterone level is adequate, he is able to be the “emergency man” in urgent situations where he needs to focus keenly, step up, and solve a problem. In fact, solving problems is so satisfying that it may cause some men’s testosterone levels to actually rise, while stress hormones like cortisol decrease.

For women, release of oxytocin (a pituitary hormone) makes them feel safe and protected. They become more nurturing and cooperative. This nurturing, coupled with feelings of being nurtured, further raises oxytocin levels. Small amounts of testosterone will also help women feel more energetic, sexy, and capable.

How The Sexes Deal With Stress

When trying to reduce or deal with stress, men release testosterone and women release oxytocin. Ironically, high cortisol levels can interfere with the normal production of both testosterone and oxytocin, hampering both men and women from their attempts at stress reduction.

Oxytocin is the hormone that rises in women and men after sexual orgasm and makes them sleepy. It doesn’t help men deal with stress and can even bring their testosterone levels down.

Estrogen and progesterone are commonly thought of as women’s hormones; however, many are surprised to learn that testosterone is also a female hormone. Replacing testosterone in menopausal women has been shown in research studies to increase energy, libido, and sense of well-being.

And How They Deal With Housework

When men get home and head to their “man cave” (or do whatever they prefer for relaxation), their stress levels drop. When women get home from work, their stress levels often rise even further as they face the pressures of all the things that need to be done at home (dinner, laundry, childcare, homework, etc.). They can’t understand how men can just sit on the couch or read the paper when there is so much to do.

Studies show that stress levels of cortisol while at work are twice as high for women as they are for men, and that difference typically becomes even greater when they get home. This may be related to their husbands on the couch.

Men don’t understand why women get so upset, and they don’t even typically notice the things that need to be done without being told. In fact, men will frequently procrastinate about doing things until they get a sense of danger or risk, which triggers their testosterone levels, giving them even greater stress relief.

Women tend to plan ahead, which stimulates oxytocin release, making them feel considerate and caring, which triggers even more oxytocin.

Happiness And Hormones

Happiness, moods, and libido are also related to neurotransmitter imbalances. If dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are low, libido decreases. These neurotransmitters can be tested and balanced with targeted effective nutrients. Relationships are better if the sex hormones and neurotransmitters are balanced. Products to enhance libido for women are also available.

Men need sex for stress relief. Women need stress relief for sex. My research shows that men who help women with children and housework have more sex.

With such polar primal hormonal responses and feelings, it is little wonder that men and women have trouble understanding one another! As balanced hormones play such a big part in increased well-being, consider getting your hormone levels checked, in the name of love.

Sharon Norling

Dr. Sharon Norling is a nationally known and highly respected medical doctor specializing in integrative medicine and practicing advanced functional medicine in Westlake Village, CA. Dr. Norling graduated from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and has trained at USC and UCLA. She received her MBA from St. Thomas University. Dr. Norling’s expertise is based on her years of clinical experiences, former Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and her research. She is national board-certified in OB/GYN, Integrative Medicine and Medical Acupuncture. Recognized for her expertise has testified before the White House Commission on Complementary Alternative Medicine Policy. She has served in multiple leadership roles as Medical Director and senior management in two large healthcare organizations. Dr. Norling is an international speaker and the author of Your Doctor is Wrong. Dr. Norling is a medical authority, a visionary and an extraordinary leader who provides real solutions for patients who have been dismissed or misdiagnosed.

Sharon Norling

Dr. Sharon Norling is a nationally known and highly respected medical doctor specializing in integrative medicine and practicing advanced functional medicine in Westlake Village, CA. Dr. Norling graduated from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and has trained at USC and UCLA. She received her MBA from St. Thomas University. Dr. Norling’s expertise is based on her years of clinical experiences, former Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and her research. She is national board-certified in OB/GYN, Integrative Medicine and Medical Acupuncture. Recognized for her expertise has testified before the White House Commission on Complementary Alternative Medicine Policy. She has served in multiple leadership roles as Medical Director and senior management in two large healthcare organizations. Dr. Norling is an international speaker and the author of Your Doctor is Wrong. Dr. Norling is a medical authority, a visionary and an extraordinary leader who provides real solutions for patients who have been dismissed or misdiagnosed.