Is a Sauna Good For Hormones?
The process of sauna use heavily revolves around heating the body. Fascinating things happen when this occurs. Far infrared saunas are some of the best for this. Yes, saunas are good for hormone secretion. Heating the body induces stress stimulation of the body which releases hormones allowing you to feel great after.
What Hormones Are Released?
As stated previously, sauna use causes the release of typical hormones associated with a stress situation such as lifting weights. Some hormones that are released during sauna use include: Noradrenaline, growth hormone, prolactin, immunoreactive beta-endorphins and many others(1). While each of these have benefits of their own upon release, these essentially contribute that ‘feel good’ sensation that you know and love from sauna use.
Growth Hormone and Saunas
The release of growth hormone in combination with proper sauna timing has been shown to have profoundly increased levels. Growth hormone plays an important role in maintaining muscle, providing joint and bone support along with even increasing metabolism. Studies have found to conclude that using the sauna fasted(no food about 2-3 hours prior) is able to leverage the greatest growth hormone release. This has been found to be levels of even 16x above normal(2).
How Long Do These Changes Last?
Changes in hormone secretion due to sauna use, often normalize within a couple of hours after the session. This can be leveraged based on how you structure your day. Using this feeling of being refreshed with increased energy, you can use it to drive home certain important aspects of your daily routine. This may cause you to wonder around what activities would something like this benefit? Or is it better to sauna in the morning or at night? The answer to these questions will be highly dependent on your schedule and routine.
Can Saunas Affect Menstrual Cycles?
Changes of hormones are often brought up in the same conversation with menstrual cycles. It is important not to worry about sauna use negatively affecting your period. Far Infrared saunas may actually benefit you in the issues associated with periods. Far infrared sauna use penetrates deep into the tissue and muscles to increase circulation and blood flow throughout your body(3). This can help relieve common pains associated with menstrual cycles. While sauna use in general will help this, it is important to note that far infrared saunas help this to a greater extent because they deeply penetrate the skin's surface, unlike traditional saunas or steam rooms.
Does Saunas Raise Testosterone?
Simply put, saunas do not affect testosterone. This begs the question, should I sauna before or after a workout? Saunas do release growth hormone that can be found to be twice baseline rates(1). While these levels appear to only hold for a couple of hours after sauna use, this can still be a beneficial tool to use in your daily routine for proper hormone stimulation.References:
1. National Library of Medicine, K. Kukkonen-Harjula, K Kauppinen, “How the sauna affects the endocrine system”.
2. Huberman Lab, “Deliberate Heat Exposure Protocols for Health & Performance”, 01-June-2022.
3. National Library of Medicine, Junyoung Jo and Sun Haeng Lee, “Heat therapy for primary dysmenorrhea.” 02-Nov-2018.