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Women and Adrenals

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Friday, February 09, 2007 | 0 comments

The adrenal glands contribute about 35 percent of female hormones pre-menopausal and almost 50 percent post-menopausally. Furthermore, without the proper functioning of the adrenal glands, pregnancy cannot occur.

· Estrogen Dominance. Today, women often have exhausted adrenal glands by the time they reach their mid-thirties or early forties due to a stressful lifestyle. Stress is regulated by our adrenal glands primarily. In early stages of adrenal fatigue, cortisol output is high as the body attempts to neutralize the stress by producing more of it. However, when too much cortisol is produced, it will have multiple undesirable effects. For example, cortisol blocks progesterone receptors, making them less responsive to progesterone. Progesterone normally produced by the adrenals comes to a halt in favor of cortisol. Insufficient progesterone production leads to an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone. With reduced progesterone to offset estrogen, the body may experience estrogen dominance and a host of undesirable side effects associated with excessive estrogen. This leads to a condition known as estrogen dominance. It is no coincidence that we see a proliferation of conditions associated with excessive estrogen such as PMS, fibroids, and pre-menopausal syndrome when a women reaches their mid thirties and early forties.

· Adrenal normalization should precede hormone modulation. The adrenal glands deal with the daily stresses of life. A woman must normalize her adrenal glands in order to have a total body hormonal balance. In fact, replacement of deficient hormones alone without addressing the overall health of the adrenal gland is a band-aid approach and often ineffective in the long run. The normalization process can begin with investigating and eliminating stressors. Stressors are often chronic in nature, and can be related to lifestyle, dietary, mental, and inflammatory causes. Women with heavy menstrual bleeding and adrenal exhaustion can normalize their adrenal functions with natural cortisol, adequate sleep, proper diet, and nutritional supplementation before considering progesterone therapy. Progesterone may make their bleeding even heavier. This is usually only temporary and occurs in the beginning when the estrogen sites are being resensitized. Women under stress can paradoxically have high cortisol and adrenal insufficiency (stage 1) at the same time before they get to the adrenal fatigue stage where the cortisol level eventually drops (stage 2-3).

Most post- menopausal women who are experiencing hair loss have an adrenal function problem. Hair loss is a sign of excessive androgen. Some women tend to produce too much androstenedione, which then gets converted into estrone and testosterone. Estriol can be given to offset the testosterone effects as estrogen balances testosterone in the body. Cortisol is also very helpful and can be used as a first line natural medicine. It keeps the adrenal glands from getting stuck in the androgen part of the stress cycle. Cortisol also complements the use of progesterone as well. The effective cocktail therefore consists of estriol, cortisol and progesterone.




About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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