Our bodies are “threatened” continuously! Let me give you a real-life example. When you play basketball and decide to jump high in order to catch a flying ball you actually activate your nervous system which then activates the contraction of your quadriceps: that mechanism lets you jump and complete your desired task. But what you and me need to know, is that the movement itself puts your body in an unconventional position (back stretched, hand over the head, maybe knees tuck). The second you touch the floor, you will immediately return to the initial body position (legs straight, head in the axis, shoulders retracted, and back straight). We call this whole process: HOMEOSTASIS (or the reestablishing or adaptation responses).
After this little informational introduction, we can build up the real definition of STRESS. It is actually the real opposite of the homeostasis state. We define stress as a disharmony or threatened homeostasis. What you should know is that NOT ALL states of stress are harmful!
For instance, stress activates many behavioral adaptations:
- It increases someone’s alertness
- It redirects energy towards precise needed locations (like when you stress a little before an exam, this gives you the ability to completely focus on your exam)
- It increases respiration (this may be beneficial when you prepare yourself before a competition)
WHAT IF THE STRESS WAS HARMFUL?
There are many stress adaptations that are harmful for our lives. Today we are going to take ONE harmful adaption of stress and analyse its negative effects.
Stress may suppress the reproduction behavior!
When someone encounters a stressful situation, there is a stress component that is activated : the corticotropin-releasing hormone (or CRH), according to Georges Chrousos and Philip Gold in the Concepts of Stress and Stress System Disorders.
The CRH then activates the release of ACTH (as known as adrenocorticotropic hormone), that will also trigger the liberation of glucocorticoïds (a class of corticosteroids, which are a class of steroid hormones as known as H02AB). As a result, the release of H02AB inhibits the liberation of reproductive hormones (LH/FSH ; testosterone ; œstradiol) that threatens the reproductive system in the body.
It can :
- Make the women’s period more painful
- Mess with your libido
- Bring pH imbalance
- Affect the normal biochemical functioning of the male reproductive system
- Affect testosterone and sperm production
- Provoke erectile dysfunction
- Make premenstrual symptoms worse or more difficult to cope with
This is said not to scare you! Although this is to inform you about the disastrous effect of PROLONGED AND CHRONIC STRESS-STATE. So if stress is temporary, it’s okay not to be scared. However, if stress is chronic, then there is a PROBLEM. This is when we all have to take part in the action of relieving the stressful state that we are diving in.