The hormone that’s stressing you out

by Oct 13, 2022Hormone Health

Most women are familiar with estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones. Estrogen and progesterone are “feel good” hormones, and thyroid has been aptly nicknamed the “pilot” because it regulates things like weight, energy levels, skin, nail growth, hair, metabolism, and the internal temperature of our bodies (keeps us warm).

Then there are the stress hormones.

Stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) are like the bullies on the playground that beat up the little kids (estrogen and progesterone). Loosely translated, that means when we’re stressed — like running late, multi-tasking, overworked, and overwhelmed — the feel-good hormones are nowhere to be found.

Which makes sense when you think about it. When we’re in a fight or flight situation, the body isn’t thinking about relaxing, having fun, feeling sexy or playful. It’s why so many women have complaints about low libido.

Stress hormones aren’t all bad. When functioning normally, cortisol acts on a circadian rhythm. It peaks between 6:00-9:00 a.m. and gradually goes down. As the sun goes down, melatonin increases to bring on a restful night’s sleep. Adrenalin keeps us safe because it allows us to react quickly in an emergency.

Here’s the problem. We’re constantly overworking our adrenal glands which secrete cortisol.  High cortisol lowers estrogen levels which can result in fat accumulating around the mid-section, night sweats, mood swings and sleep problems. When it spikes it also blocks progesterone receptors and limits the activity of progesterone. In essence, these feel-good hormones wait on the back burner for stress to subside.

Elevated cortisol looks a little like this:

  • Mindless hours scrolling through social media to relax which has the opposite effect because blue light activates cortisol
  • Drinking coffee (caffeine elevates cortisol levels)
  • Pushing through when you’re tired — a “2nd wind” is an extra dose of cortisol
  • Running late to an appointment, meeting, etc.
  • Saying yes instead of no to tasks you have no time to do
  • Multi-tasking
  • Skipping meals
  • Staying up past 10:00 PM to have some “me time”

Habits like these can result in waking up tired in the mornings, feeling wired at night and/or feeling like you need a nap in the middle of the day. If any of this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from what functional medicine experts refer to as

Adrenal Fatigue

The high demand for cortisol to help you get through the day takes its toll over time and the “little kids on the playground” can’t come out to play.

If your body is releasing cortisol into your system (high cortisol) while at the same time the adrenal glands are being overworked (low cortisol), exhaustion is bound to follow. High cortisol makes you feel wired but tired. Low cortisol makes you feel exhausted, moody, overweight, anxious, depressed, and drained of all energy.

This is a common way of life for many women. Overloaded schedules, perfectionistic tendencies and not taking time out to recharge contributes to a variety of health concerns like …

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Blood sugar issues
  • Gut health problems
  • Weight gain
  • Low libido
  • And much more

So, what’s a gal to do? Start with getting your cortisol levels checked. We offer a hormone assessment developed by Dr. Sarah Gottfried and tested on over 20,000 women. You’ll know exactly which hormones are out of balance and be provided with a personalized plan to get back on track.

Still not sure? Schedule a free Discovery Call to talk more about your specific hormonal imbalances.

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