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The Pregnenolone Steal aka Low Libido

Is stress a part of your daily life? Has it become chronic……the body does not know the difference between a stressful event such as reading an email containing bad news, running late or running from the sabertooth tiger. The same response occurs: releasing of stress hormone.  Do you eat in front of a computer, thus putting your body into “fight or flight” instead of digesting in parasympathetic (calm and meditative) state? The body prioritizes survival over reproduction…….could this be why you have low libido, infertility or ED?


Hormones are cell messengers that carry important signals to different cells in the body. There can be a lot of things that go wrong in their communication and these problems can be due to a multitude of factors including: nutritional deficiencies, stress and toxicity. 

Pregnenolone is the precursor from which nearly all other steroid hormones are made, i.e. your sex and stress hormones. Once pregnenolone is synthesized, it is converted into other hormones and follows one of two pathways: sex (testosterone and estrogen) or stress (cortisol and adrenaline). 

The pregnenolone steal occurs when pregnenolone is taken from the sex pathway and diverted to the stress pathway. DHEA (sex hormone) production suffers when this occurs. When the body needs DHEA to make cortisol to deal with stress, sex hormone production suffers. Adrogenic hormones such as DHEA and testosterone are critical for libido, as well as maintaining bone density. Studies have shown that low levels of DHEA correlate with poor bone density and osteoporosis. DHEA is also critical for memory and anti-aging. 

The pregnenolone steal takes place when pregnenolone is preferentially taken away from the sex hormone pathway to the stress hormone pathway; the body prioritizes survival over libido and fertility. If the body makes DHEA from pregnenolone and that’s being “stolen” for survival, sex hormone production is going to suffer. 

Restoring viability to hormone pathways can be achieved through individualized diet, hydration and mineralization, detox, rest, stress reduction and exercise. Going to bed by 11pm and and getting a minimum of 7.5 hours sleep is critical as well. 

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Kristy Corah, NTP

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