Impact of Increased Growth Hormone Levels on Male Fertility

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Growth hormones play an intricate role in humans, being responsible for the growth of various cells in the human body. Growth hormones are determined by the hypothalamus-pituitary-somatotropic axis and when these hormones fluctuate, it can have ripple effects on our bodies.


What is Growth Hormones

Growth hormone is a hormone that is regulated en secreted via the hypothalamus-pituitary-somatotropic axis. This axis originates in the brain and secretes Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH) stimulating the pituitary gland to secrete Growth Hormone (GH) that in turn stimulates receptors in the liver and insulin-like growth-factor 1 (IGF-1) causing the growth of cartilage, tissue and bone. Growth hormone also has a direct effect on blood glucose.

When there is an imbalance of hormones within the cascade, it can affect normal processes of the body and even affect male fertility. Not only does growth hormone play a role in reaching puberty maturation but it also plays an important role in male fertility and is responsible for the process of spermatogenesis.


Effects of Growth Hormone

If the growth hormone is too low or too high, there can be adverse affects on the human body. From height and metabolic changes, to erectile dysfunction. Below we outline some of the effects on an imbalances growth hormone.


Decreased Growth Hormone

If a male’s growth hormone is low, not only will it be seen in their height, but it can also be recognized by smaller-sized testes. It also leads to azoospermia, where there is an absence of sperm in the seminal fluid. Men diagnosed with insufficient growth hormone can be treated with the hormone itself. Studies have shown that when growth hormone is used as part of a therapy regimen, it can induce spermatogenesis and increase sperm motility, thus having a positive effect on a male’s fertility.


Increased Growth Hormone

In the rare case that there is a biological increase in the secretion of growth hormone and IGF-1 the patient may be diagnosed with acromegaly that affects metabolic and systematic changes. When growth hormone is secreted in excessive amounts, it can have severe effects on a male’s fertility causing hypogonadism, which is a decrease in function of the testes, and can also cause erectile dysfunction.

This is due to the imbalance in the axis, where the increased levels of growth hormone have an inhibitory effect on sexual hormones, leading to a decrease in male fertility. Studies have shown that by treating acromegaly appropriately, most of the time with growth hormone antagonists, such as somatostatin, men will show an increase in their testosterone levels, maturation of spermatozoa and an improvement of sperm motility. If the treatment also helps to reduce prostate inflammation and reverse hypogonadism, a male is likely to get his fertility back on track.


Growth Hormone for Anabolic Purposes

Growth hormone and IGF-1 are commonly misused to improve body aesthetics as well as enhance physical ability. The inappropriate use of growth hormones along with other anabolic steroids can have severe health implications including insulin resistance, leading to diabetes, decline in cardiovascular health and infertility.

Infertility is caused when excessive growth hormones are present and the testes will produce less sperm leading to a decrease in sperm parameters and sperm count, eventually resulting in infertility. Studies have found a link between growth hormone and cancer. Though the evidence is not evident, it is still a factor to consider as growth hormone can increase the growth of almost any cells, there is a chance that it can increase the growth of tumour cells.


Factors Affecting Growth Hormone

There are multiple ways that the growth hormone can be affected, with obesity and regular exercise some of the most common factors. Below we delve into this:


Body Composition

Growth hormone concentrations depend on an individual’s body composition. Obese individuals have lower growth hormone concentrations, but it is reversible via weight loss or fasting. This can be due to hyperinsulineamia that inhibits the secretion of growth hormone in obese individuals. These individuals are more likely to develop diabetes as they become insulin-resistant.

The opposite is true for individuals of a smaller body composition. These individuals will secrete more growth hormone as the storage is not saturated and the individual is not experiencing any increased levels of insulin.


Exercise and Age

Exercise also plays a great role in the release of growth hormones. The amount of growth hormone secreted depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise. Training like high-intensity aerobic exercises, including running and progressive weight training, will increase the secretion of growth hormone. Age also affects the release of growth hormone, which will peak during puberty and decline as an individual ages.

When to Consult Your Doctor

If you are an athlete looking to enhance your performance, before turning to anabolic steroids and the misuse of growth hormones, first consult your doctor, nutritionist or health coach. It is important to tell them your goals and what you want to achieve so that you can work together on a nutritional plan and possible treatment regimen to reach your goals.

If you have reason to believe you have problems with growth hormones, it is best to consult your doctor, who will most likely do blood tests to test the amount of growth hormone in the body and check if the levels fall within the normal range. Tests for growth hormone deficiency will include how the pituitary will respond to glucagon as well as the insulin intolerance test.


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