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15 Ways Dads' Hormones Change During Pregnancy

Women who have gone through the weird and wonderful time of pregnancy will know that hormones play a huge part in the changes the body goes through for the duration of the nine months – and beyond.

Many people say that women are hormonal creatures. It can be really annoying, as I’m sure plenty of you will be able to testify, when people attribute every little thing, everything you say or do that might be slightly out of the ordinary, different from the norm, to hormones; It must be that time of the month, right? I’m sure plenty of you have heard that one. Well, when you’re pregnant, expect to hear that for the duration of your pregnancy. You can get away with a lot whilst you’re pregnant, and people will generally understand, because of the hormonal changes, but sometimes, when every little thing is put down to hormones, it can make you want to wring some necks.

Guys can, believe it or not, also use this excuse, because your loving, doting partner is also affected by hormonal changes during your pregnancy, obviously not to the extent that you are, so don’t let them read this article and use the points as an excuse for various things, but they’re still affected in some ways all the same.

Fatherhood, and impending fatherhood, changes a man’s brain and therefore hormone levels change which could affect the body in various different ways. These are 15 ways dad’s hormones fluctuate during the pregnancy period, and the effects these changes could have on your man.

15 Testosterone Levels Fall

This really is a massive change.

Testosterone is known as the male hormone – not that women don’t have it – and it’s responsible for male characteristics, deep voice, hair growth, muscle growth, etc. Fathers-to-be have pregnancy symptoms too, and one of those is the fact that testosterone levels tend to fall, quite drastically too by up to a third.

It’s quite strange because you’d think that your guy’s testosterone levels would increase, with him proving his virility, being all manly and protective, over you and the baby once it’s born. But weirdly that’s not the case. Your man’s testosterone levels will decline rapidly after birth, but during pregnancy too, during the third trimester, testosterone levels begin to fall.

How much it falls and how much it affects guys will vary from man to man; some don’t really notice, there aren’t any changes, but other will turn into a puddle of goo, big cuddly teddy bears, really sensitive creatures.

14 Prolactin Rises

Prolactin’s probably a hormone you’ve heard a lot about – it probably rings a bell. That’s because this luteotropic hormone is best known for being the hormone that enables women to produce breast milk when the baby arrives. It’s secreted from the pituitary gland in response to a number of different stimuli, such as eating, having sex, ovulating and nursing a baby. It’s secretion is regulated by the hypothalamus. You may be thinking that since this hormone’s involved in this kind of stuff, how on earth is it relevant to guys – how does it even have an effect on guys? Well guys too have prolactin, and during pregnancy, altered levels of prolactin can have an effect; don’t worry, your guy’s not going to start producing milk or anything! This ties in to the whole testosterone thing – it’s actually the hormone that’s responsible for your testosterone levels falling. A high concentration of prolactin in the blood – which tends to happen during pregnancy – effects the functioning of the testicles, reducing the amount of testosterone produced, which may cause the effects mentioned in the previous entry.

13 The Stress Hormone 

Of course, being pregnant is a really stressful time, for you the person who’s pregnant, but also for everyone else involved, your close circle of mates, your family, and even more so, someone who’ll bear the brunt of your stress, your partner, the daddy-to-be. The guy gets stressed too during pregnancy, because a ton of stuff is about to change – well, it already has. Your stress, what you’re going through is on another level, that’s a given, but your partner, the guy’s who’s around you and is supporting you – it’s stressful for him too.

What happens during times of stress – more specifically, sustained periods of stress? The hormone, cortisol – aptly named the “stress hormone,” is produced and there’re elevated levels of cortisol in the blood stream. It’s actually a pretty bad thing, because too much cortisol for too long has been linked to a number of health problems, including a range of different mental health issues, weight gain, heart problems, and the list just goes on.

12 Estradiol Levels Drop Off

Estradiol is one of the primary female sex hormones, although, as you’re probably aware by now, this doesn’t mean that men don’t have some levels of estradiol in their systems. Its primary role is in the regulation of the menstrual cycle, as a variant of estrogen, but it also has a role in male reproduction – a pretty complex role, so I’m not going to delve into that, but it does have important functions in men as well as in women.

It’s not entirely clear why estradiol levels taper off in men during pregnancy. Due to the complex nature of the hormone, which in its function and chemical nature, is in some ways similar to the male sex hormone, testosterone, and it’s therefore thought that estradiol levels dropping off could have something to do with reduction in testosterone. It’s also been linked to changes in cortisol levels.

Why is estradiol important? Like testosterone, it’s a factor in the aggressive behavior in men, and it also boosts libido. So, perhaps estradiol levels dropping off during pregnancy is nature’s way of telling your man it’s not really needed, to take care of you and bond with the baby when it arrives, and not to run around and start fights and be gagging for sex.

11 More Caring, More Nurturing

A lot of hormonal changes that occur in men, to the dads-to-be during pregnancy occur because the body’s gearing up to take on new challenges, to go through a new stage in life, hence adaptations need to be made, and that comes in the form of hormones which alter the internal physiology.

A lot of hormonal changes that take place occur because of stress – pregnancy is stressful, of course for you, the woman, but also for your fella. It’s a totally different experience for you both, and one your body has to ready itself for, and it does this by making subtle changes. For example, I’ve mentioned estradiol and testosterone levels decreasing; this is essentially thought to happen to make your partner more nurturing, towards you during your pregnancy, but also to your baby when he/she arrives. These hormone changes, in addition to others, make guys more nurturing, more caring individuals, all in preparation for daddy time!

10 Progesterone

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This is another hormone, steroid hormone that ties into the whole testosterone thing. You’ll know by now that testosterone is the male hormone – not that only men have testosterone – and it’s responsible for male characteristics, those stereotypical things you may perceive manliness to be, the scraggly beard, the muscles, deep voice, aggression – you can thank their levels of testosterone for that. Well, progesterone is actually another female hormone – women have far more progesterone in their systems than men – but it’s also a precursor to testosterone. Low progesterone means low testosterone, and is normally linked to an increase in estrogen, the female hormone. That’s why many men, as they age, have increased levels of estrogen in their system, but some studies have shown that this same effect is apparent in men during pregnancy. It can actually lead to health risks and be responsible for a ton of issues, such as weight gain and low libido, but not to worry, as the effects of low progesterone during pregnancy are unlikely to be the same as say, a 50-year-old man with the same hormonal problem.

9 HGH

It’s unknown why Human Growth Hormone decreases in males during pregnancy, but one thing’s for sure, when combined with the hormone changes mentioned in this article, it can have a pretty major effect. The symptoms won’t be entirely obvious, but on the inside, it’s going to be affecting the body in a number of different ways.

HGH is essentially you body’s anabolic steroid, meaning it builds up tissues in the body – all tissues and organs, not just muscles, which is where many people who abuse HGH and take synthetic versions of this drug go wrong. In a way, it works in combination with testosterone, and can increase size and muscle mass, thus decreasing the amount of fat in the body.

Low levels of HGH can lead to weight gain by decreasing metabolic weight, decreasing muscle mass. It can also have a number of other effects, including generally just the feeling of being down in the dumps, lacking energy and having an overall decreased quality of life.

8 The Hunger Hormone

The level of ghrelin in your body is going to change during pregnancy, and it’s going to change for the dad-to-be too. Ghrelin is essentially known as the hunger hormone, because it’s basically one of the hormones responsible for making you hungry. The ghrelinergic cells in the gastrointestinal tract get to work when the stomach is empty, and produces the hormone ghrelin. It regulates appetite and acts on the brain to tell you to eat, that you’re hungry. Many problems are associated with changes in the levels of ghrelin production – weight gain and obesity being the main ones.

There’s no real scientific explanation as to why a dad-to-be’s ghrelin secretion might increase, no complex theory or anything like that. It’s just that as a loving partner, caring for a pregnant wife, and preparing your environment for the arrival of the new-born, your man’s going to running about a lot, he’ll burn off more calories, the stomach will be empty, and so ghrelin production will increase.

7 Aggression

You’re going to find this very contradictory. I’ve mentioned quite a few times in this article, that your fella’s going to simmer down during your pregnancy, become like a great big teddy bear, morph into a more nurturing and caring individual. But quite a few studies say the opposite, and if you think about it logically, there are points to both sides. You want the dad of your baby to be nurturing, to care for you and your soon-to-be baby, that’s a given. But at the same time you don’t want him to turn into a puddle of goo; you want him to be able to not only care for you both, but protect you both too. That’s where the whole aggression thing comes in. This aggression won’t be because of testosterone, because we’ve already established that this decreases, but it’ll be because of love and compassion, because of hormonal changes that alter your man’s psyche, making him more aggressive should the occasion call for it, so he’s able to act as your protector. There’s a lot of primeval animal instinct in all of this.

6 The Love Hormone

Women have more oxytocin than men, which is perhaps why they’re generally considered to be the more loving, caring gender. It’s also why, during pregnancy and when your baby’s born, you’ll feel that huge bond, that instant connection and indescribable feeling of overwhelming love. It’s a hormone that’s also responsible for a number of other things, including milk production.

Oxytocin has a very different role in men, but it’s still the love hormone. Many scientists have deemed oxytocin and testosterone to have opposite effects; one falls and the other rises, and so in this case, during pregnancy, testosterone levels in men tend of decrease, and so oxytocin levels rise. It’s yet another hormone, another reason that will make your man more cuddly, more loving, more caring and nurturing during the course of your pregnancy. It’s likely his love for you during this period will be greater than it’s ever been before, and this will only increase, as will the hormone oxytocin, when the baby’s born.

5 Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenal glands lie just above the kidneys and are responsible for a ton of different physiological processes. They produce a number of steroid hormones, and – which is their primary function in men – are the glands responsible for producing androgens. A lot of the androgens they produce are converted to other hormones such as testosterone, so you can imagine that if there’s an issue with the glands, the kind of effect it can have on hormone production in the body.

Another hormone the adrenal glands produce, is cortisol, which helps the body deal with stress. It’s thought that many dads-to-be experience hormonal changes during pregnancy because the adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly, because of adrenal fatigue, hence this is one of the reasons they experience more stress, but more importantly, find it incredibly hard to deal with it, have general tiredness which could become chronic, and have decreased levels of testosterone.

4 Anxiety

Being pregnant and preparing for the subsequent arrival of your baby is going to bring about some massive changes, not only for you, but for the dad too. Most people embrace it, deal with the experience in their own ways, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ranging emotions – excitement looking forward to the future, but apprehension and a tremendous amount of anxiety too at what could happen. Plenty of stuff will be playing out in your mind, and your partner will be experiencing the same type of emotions – it’s only natural to feel that way, feel at least some levels of anxiety.

Hormones affect pretty much everything, have a part to play in every emotion you feel, and that includes anxiety. It’s thought that estrogen and testosterone are related to anxiety. These sex hormones can help fuel anxiety, as can having an overactive thyroid gland, something that can cause significant problems relating to anxiety.

3 Aches And Pains

If you’re currently pregnant, or have gone through pregnancy in the past, you’re probably thinking this is related to you, right? Of course it does, you’re going to experience aches and pains, feelings and sensations like never before, but it also applies to your partner, to the dad-to-be. These pains aren’t going to be on the same level are yours of course, but he’s still likely to get some aches and pains, experience some level of discomfort in his joints and muscles. A common one is back pain; many expectant fathers get back pain – perhaps it’s a direct result of trying to run around get the baby room ready, do everything possible to prepare for the baby’s arrival – or it could be because of hormones, the exact hormones and how they may change to cause these pains aren’t entirely clear though. Sometimes these pains can get so severe that men seek help from their doctors, but the pain you’re going through will still trump any of their ailments.

2 Irritable Male Syndrome

PMS, Premenstrual Syndrome, can lead to a number of behavioral changes and a ton of other things, a couple of weeks before your period. It can lead to increased irritability, and a lot of moodiness, changes your other half is sure to pick up on. Well, men kind of have something like this too, obviously not PMS itself, but something very similar, something known as the “male PMS,” Irritable Male Syndrome. Frustration, anger, irritability - all things that can happen as a result of this syndrome. Why does it occur? Because of hormones, and there’s a strong likelihood that men may experience it when they’re expectant fathers, during pregnancy.

There’s no hardcore scientific evidence behind this type of syndrome and there’s lots of debate as to whether it’s fact or fiction with many just saying it’s an excuse to label those mood swings with something; women have PMS, men should have something too. But this level of irritability, mood changes, can be caused by hormone changes, such as a decrease of testosterone, in addition to other hormone fluctuations, and this tends to happen a lot during pregnancy.

1 Couvade Syndrome

This is another syndrome that’s not really based on any hardcore scientific evidence, but it’s a proposed condition that’s been labelled Couvade Syndrome, which offers an explanation as to some of the changes men experience, physical and psychological changes, during pregnancy. To do away with its fancy name, it’s called “sympathetic pregnancy,” something which I’m sure you’ve probably heard about in the past. It’s when the guy, the dad-to-be, experiences some of the same symptoms as the pregnant woman’s experiencing. Things such as weight gain, reduced sleep, nausea, aches and pains – things that are common during pregnancy, your man could experience them too. It’s all because of hormones, changes in hormone levels in his body that essentially mimic what’s going on in yours – to a certain extent anyway – in a way making you both more compatible than ever, in sync on a physiological basis during your pregnancy. Whether or not it’s a real syndrome is still the cause of debate, but those who do believe it to be an actual syndrome, think it’s a psychological condition, and because of these psychological changes, hormones change, which explain these physiological changes.

Sources: MedicalDaily.com

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