Intermittent fasting is a great thing! If you do it right, you can maintain your weight or shed some. It also helps to reduce the risk of getting cancer and type II diabetes. You can restrict your calorie intake, fast, or eat as you normally would, depending on the situation.
No matter how you look at it, intermittent fasting is a great option, but it has one major flaw. It can affect your hormones!
In fact, a few studies show that intermittent fasting may affect hormones, especially those that control reproduction.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Affect Your Hormones
Intermittent fasting affects both female and male hormones. According to a study, intermittent fasting affects the DHEA level in the body. It is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, testes, and brain. It plays a critical role in synthesizing estrogen and androgens like testosterone.
Low levels of DHEA are linked to vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and osteoporosis in women. Studies have shown that DHEA makes it more likely that fertility treatment will work in females.
This is not an entirely negative development. Both premenopausal women and those who have already gone through menopause have an increased risk of developing breast cancer if their DHEA levels are high.
As a result, premenopausal obese women may benefit from DHEA reductions as it translates to even more significant reductions in the risk factor for breast cancer. Low DHEA levels, on the other hand, have been linked to problems with libido, skin elasticity, and dryness in the vaginal area in women who have gone through menopause.
However, the study didn’t find any proof that intermittent fasting could reduce DHEA levels below normal levels in a big way.
Although a decrease in DHEA levels was the most notable concern with intermittent fasting, DHEA levels were still within the normal range at the end of the study for women, so it’s not such a pressing concern.
Since DHEA is an essential part of estrogen, a drop in its levels in postmenopausal women may be cause for concern since estrogen levels drop significantly during this time. Even so, women in the study did not report any changes to their skin or sexual problems after menopause due to low estrogen levels. So, women must weigh the proven benefits of weight loss for fertility against the slight drop in DHEA levels.
Still, more research needs to be done before we can say for sure how intermittent fasting affects hormones. The good news is that this is a well-studied and widely-interested topic, so we can expect to learn more about its effects on human biology in the future.