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Adrenals and (peri)menopause. Do you have hormonal imbalances and symptoms from being too busy!

In (post)menopause, when ovarian hormone production declines, the adrenal glands become the primary source of DHEA, testosterone, and oestrogen production. They provide your hormone back up battery. They also provide aldosterone and adrenaline so regulate kidneys and heart health and maintain electrolyte balance in the body.

Under stimulation by stress or other stimulants such as caffeine, cortisol is released. When cortisol is released, so is insulin as a response to the release of glucose from the liver to give us energy to deal with the stressor!

If our adrenals are over stimulated we get imbalances in the following areas:

  • Hormone regulation
  • Stress response regulation
  • Androgen production
  • Blood pressure and fluid balance
  • Reproductive health
  • Bone health

Our stress response system, the HPA axis, is calibrated for intermittent, severe threats such as “running from lions”.  Not for the incessant, trivial threats of modern life, such as difficult phone calls, alarms and even lots of navigation of traffic when driving. We don’t want our hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis to charge up and release cortisol every time we drive in heavy traffic, but it will do so.

If someone has been stressed for a long time and overworking the adrenals, they won’t have the capacity to do this produce the sex hormones at the correct amounts.

Long-term stress can have a negative knock-on effect, one that makes it even harder to stop feeling stressed: dysregulation of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis (the HPA axis). This is the system by which the brain and adrenal glands communicate. It’s supposed to feedback that the body can stop making cortisol. With many women, the HPA axis becomes overwhelmed by too much cortisol and stops giving proper feedback. This has the negative result that the pituitary keeps sending the message to pump out even more cortisol!

If you’re trying to ease up on the HPA throttle, then work on being kinder to yourself. Take time for 15 minutes “meditation” or simply sit undisturbed with a cuppa and just “be”. Switch off your computer in the evening 2 hours before sleeping and ensure you have “down time”. If you constantly remain “switched on” you can´t instruct your HPA axis to power down. Overtime and continual “pushing through”, will impact your hormones and the size of your brain.

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