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The Luteinizing Hormone and Testosterone Relationship

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Hormones heavily control the way the body works. They help us to add muscle mass and improve our strength. They’ll also support your sexual performance and libido too.

If you really want to maximize your productivity in the gym you need to fully optimize these hormones to progress towards your goal.

In this article we’ll talk about the importance of luteinizing hormone – a hormone produced in the brain that acts as a messenger to our most potent male hormone, testosterone. Read on to see how this ‘middle manager’ signals to regulate our masculinity.


What is Luteinizing Hormone?

Luteinizing hormone (LH) is a hormone produced in an area of the brain called the pituitary gland. It helps to control the reproductive system alongside other important hormones. It is critical for proper sperm and testosterone production in men, and ovulation in women.

LH production is regulated by a system called the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. In a normal day, its production is higher in a morning and lower a night – it isn’t released in a constant flow, but in around 6 pulses per day.

Normal levels of this hormone should fall between 1.8 and 8.6 IU/L and are typically measured early in the day.

The hypothalamus releases a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which then travel to, and attaches onto receptors within the pituitary gland. GnRH then signals the release of LH which travels via the bloodstream to the Leydig cells located in the testes. From here testosterone is produced. Without GnRH or LH the testes would not receive an incoming message to produce T.

When your T levels fall, GnRH signals the pituitary gland to produce more LH which in turn elevates testosterone to normal levels. When T is brought back up to within normal levels, GnRH slows down LH stimulation.

This essentially keeps your testosterone at an optimal level and is referred to as a negative feedback loop. At any point, all of your hormones are working closely to produce enough testosterone to function properly.

Simply put, when LH arrives at the testes, testosterone is made – when it isn’t, they don’t. 


the-hypothalamic-pituitary-gonodal-axis

 


Luteinizing Hormone and Testosterone

During normal aging, men experience a significant decline in T levels and to compensate their is an elevation in levels of LH [1]. As we’ve seen from the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, testosterone is under the command of LH.

LH levels can be used to test for infertility or for low testosterone levels. It can also provide an idea of why your T levels might be low too. Hypogonadism – or low T – can be caused by a number of things.

Primary hypogonadism is where T levels are lower than normal due to failure of the testicles to produce testosterone, but LH levels are high. Secondary hypogonadism is where the pituitary gland doesn’t produce enough LH, therefore testosterone isn’t stimulated effectively [2].

If your levels of LH are lower than needed you may become infertile. It is important that you aim to optimize this hormone as much as possible in order to function effectively.

Causes of Low or High Luteinizing Hormone

High LH levels are usually caused by damage to the testes – for some reason LH has gone into overdrive to try to stimulate testosterone production but to no avail. Causes of this may include chromosome abnormalities or infections such as mumps.

Low luteinizing hormone levels are often caused by anabolic-androgenic steroid use. The use of steroids can have a negative impact on LH and T production [3]. Additionally, low LH may be caused by genetic illness such as Kallman’s syndrome or Prader-Willi syndrome.


lh-and-t-relationship

How Can You Optimize Luteinizing Hormone Levels?

There are things that you can do to optimize your LH levels – and many of them are quick and easy changes that you can implement straight away.

#1. Get sufficient D-Aspartic acid

Ensuring you are getting sufficient D-Aspartic acid in your diet is important as this amino acid regulates the release of LH and testosterone [4].

It can be found in foods such as poultry and meats, as well as eggs and dairy products. In reality though we don’t tend to get enough of this nutrient in our diet. Clinical trials have shown that supplementing D-Aspartic acid for 90 days not only raises semen count and motility, but increases T levels by 30-60% too [5].

Similarly, another study found that supplementing D-AA elevated LH by 33% after 12 days, and testosterone by 42% [4].

#2. Don’t Overtrain

If you participate in excessive amounts of cardio you run the risk of burnout. Studies show that in times of overtraining, cortisol – the body’s stress hormone – increases, but testosterone and luteinizing hormone decrease by as much as 20-40%.

Consequently, overtraining can also decrease sperm count by as much as 43% with immediate onset of overtraining, and by 52% after 3 months [6].

#3. Optimize Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is another nutrient you need to get sufficient amounts of. Not only does supplementing this vitamin speed up muscle recovery and reduce training soreness, it can also optimize T levels. Studies have shown for example that supplementing 3332 IU of vitamin D can increase testosterone by 25% [7].

#4. Give up Alcohol

Those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol typically suffer from low male hormone levels – and this has a profound negative effect on the reproductive system. As a beta-opioid endorphin, alcohol has a morphine-like effect that has been shown to decrease both T and LH [8].

The best thing you can do is give it up or at very worse, reduce the amount you drink.


testosterone-axis

Summary – The Luteinizing Hormone and Testosterone Link

Luteinizing hormone is a hormone produced in an area of the brain called the pituitary gland. It forms part of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis alongside other hormones such as testosterone.

Its primary role is to signal the Leydig cells of the testes to produce testosterone if levels get too low. It then becomes inhibited as levels return to normal. As such it works on a negative feedback loop.

It is important that luteinizing hormone levels are optimized if testosterone is to be fully supported. If they are too low then testosterone is not properly signaled. Making small changes to diet such as ensuring sufficient D-aspartic acid and vitamin D are beneficial. Changes to overall lifestyle and exercise will also help.


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References

  1. Rosario, ER et al. Evaluation of the effects of testosterone and luteinizing hormone on regulation of β-amyloid in male 3xTg-AD mice. Brain Res. 2012 23; 1466: 137-45
  2. Dandona, P et al. A practical guide to male hypogonadism in the primary care setting. Int J Clin Pract. 2010; 64(6): 682–696 
  3. Holma, P et al. Effect of an anabolic steroid (metandienon) on plasma LH, FSH, and testosterone and on the response to intravenous administration of LRH. Acta Endocrinologica. 1976; 83(4): 856-864
  4. Topo, E et al. The role and molecular mechanism of D-aspartic acid in the release and synthesis of LH and testosterone in humans and rats. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009; 7: 120
  5. D’Aniello, S et al. D-aspartate, a key element for the improvement of sperm quality. Adv. Sex. Med. 2012; 2: 47–53
  6. Roberts, AC et al. Overtraining affects male reproductive status. Fertility & Sterility. 1993; 686-692
  7. Pilz S et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men.  Horm Metab Res. 2011; 43(3): 223-5
  8. Sarkola, T et al. Testosterone Increases in Men After a Low Dose of Alcohol. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2003; 27(4): 682-685