Updated: Mar 16, 2020
Are you apprehensive about menopause? Does it feel like an ugly monster that's lurking around the corner? Perhaps your mother experienced an uncomfortable menopause so you believe that you likely will too. For many of us we've been led to assume that what we experience in menopause is left up to genetics and completely out of our control, but this may not be the case after all.
Understanding and supporting your adrenal health is an important preventative step to setting yourself up for a healthy menopause.
Although the inner-workings of hormones is a complex issue, it is helpful to understand the role the adrenals play in menopause. Adopting a lifestyle that supports healthy adrenal function can have a positive influence on menopausal outcome. The sooner you can begin making adrenal health a priority, the better.
What are they
They are tiny glands that sit above your kidneys and they are responsible for helping the body cope with stress, both physical and mental. They play a key role in overall hormone health because they can convert one hormone to another making them the foundation to hormone balance.
What hormones the adrenals produce and their function
The adrenals produce hormones such as cortisol, DHEA and sex hormones and pregnenolone. Let's take a closer look at each of their roles:
Plays a big role in immune health, regulates blood sugar and blood pressure, making it pivotal in the prevention of diabetes and heart disease.
During times of stress, cortisol increases your blood sugar to give you energy. This is also where the adrenal glands can contribute to anxiety. As they produce cortisol, they also produce epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are commonly known as adrenaline.
Chronic stress means chronic excess blood sugar, which can lead to pre-diabetes or diabetes.
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) & sex hormones
DHEA is produced in the adrenal glands and is considered an anti-aging hormone because it diminishes wrinkles, increases energy, enhances memory, reduces body fat, and improves libido.
DHEA is also converted to the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone
Is the precursor to both cortisol and your sex hormones. During periods of stress, the brain signals to produce more cortisol at the expense of progesterone. What does this mean? Your body is choosing survival over baby making.
How overworked adrenals impact menopause
DHEA, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands is converted to estrogen and testosterone which is why we lean on our adrenal glands for hormone support after the ovaries stop producing hormones in menopause. These hormones are responsible for the health of our muscles, bones, skin, thyroid, heart, brain, and reproductive organs. If we transition into menopause with sluggish adrenals, we may be more susceptible to uncomfortable menopausal symptoms and an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, heart disease and even breast cancer.
So as you can imagine, having an imbalance in these hormones can be bad news for our overall health. This is why hormone balance is critical for menopause and adrenal health is a big part of that.
Some signs that your adrenals are overactive
You're wired and tired
You experience sleep problems
You're moody and irritable
You have cravings for carbs, sugar and/or coffee
You have nervous energy (jittery)
Inability to focus or remember things
You have belly fat
Things you can do to prevent adrenal fatigue
Develop a consistent fitness regimen that includes meditative forms of exercise to help you connect with your body and clear your mind.
Limit stimulants including alcohol
Remove stress triggers and energy-draining activities/relationships from your life
Create more opportunities to have fun
Implement personal growth habits that strengthen your self-awareness and help you evolve as an individual
Eat a whole-foods diet that includes healthy fats, leafy green vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and fermented foods.
Take an adaptogen such as schizandra or reishi to help balance cortisol.
Keep blood sugar balanced by including protein, fat and fiber at each meal and limit high-glycemic and refined carbohydrates.
Includes a bonus Adrenal Adaptogen Guide to help you choose what's best for you!