Hey lady friends!!
Given that this is such a common issue I see women suffering with, I wanted to go deep into the intertwining nature of our endocrine system. I will explain how three of the glands and the hormones they produce influence one another. When there is an imbalance with one of them it can affect a whole lot of how you are feeling emotionally and physically.
In other words, this may give you some insight into why your mood goes from happy as a clam to down in the dumps one day to the next. It may give you some info as to why you are so exhausted after all you did was clean the house, or perhaps why no matter how much you go to spin class you just can’t seem to shed any weight.
These three glands are very dependent on one another for proper functioning of your body. When a hormonal imbalance occurs involving one of these glands, a number of symptoms can arise.
Some examples of the most common symptoms displayed when hormonal balance is present include:
- irregular periods and/or periods with increased symptoms of PMS
- brain fog and/or memory difficulties
- dry skin and hair
- mood swings, feeling overwhelmed, anxiety and depression
- tired and feeling unrested no matter how much sleep you get
- weight gain and/or difficulty loosing weight
- blood sugar imbalances
An imbalance can occur for several reasons, but often they stem from hormonal events in a women’s life (i.e. menstruation, pregnancy, menopause), increased stress and other environmental factors, such as exposure to chemicals.
The three glands I am talking about and how their hormones are affected are:
- The Adrenals: – handle your stress response – secretes cortisol and aldosterone
Life doesn’t always hand us a good hand. Juggling work, workouts, kids, your social life and everything else can be a lot. Not to mention, when a curve ball is thrown your way, such as loosing your job or caring for a sick loved one, it can have a big effect on your body physically. Being overworked, not eating so well or feeling stressed for a prolonged period of time effects the adrenal glands. When the body is in state of chronic stress, the adrenals take the brunt of it. They are responsible for secreting cortisol, the stress hormone.
We have a love/hate relationship with cortisol. We love it because it keeps our body safe if the stressor needs you to take action, however, we hate it because when it is secreted regularly it may cause negative symptoms. One of these symptoms is that the adrenals become ‘fatigued’. You may have heard this termed: adrenal fatigue. Cortisol is also made from progesterone, so when the adrenals can’t keep up with the demands of the body, they steal progesterone from the ovary stores, as well.
- The Ovaries – the reproductive organs responsible for producing eggs – secrete progesterone and estrogen
When your body is in that over tired state and progesterone is being stolen to keep up with the stress demands placed upon the adrenals, estrogen then begins to dominate. Estrogen dominance is quite common and its likely many women reading this are very familiar with symptoms of it. Estrogen actually prevents the conversion of thyroid hormone to its most active form (T3), therefore, when there is excess estrogen in the body, thyroid functions, like managing metabolism, slow down.
Other symptoms of excess estrogen to the female body include painful or irregular periods, acne, sugar cravings, or in more severe cases, even the development of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Communication from the brain to the adrenals is also affected by estrogen, thus, more necessary cortisol is not produced by the adrenals.
- The Thyroid – regulates metabolism – secretes thyroid hormone
Thyroid hormone is made by this gland in the form of T4. It is then converted to T3 so that is can accomplish its goal of maintaining proper metabolism in the body. When the body is in our overworked and adrenal fatigued state, it begins to convert its limited supply of active T3 into a form of thyroid hormone called Reverse T3. The body does this preventatively to conserve energy, however, a result of this is that the body starts to conserve fat because it thinks that something is wrong and wants to prevent starvation. This conservation of weight often occurs around the middle of the body.
Lastly, reduced thyroid function also suppresses the already lowered levels of progesterone and the cycle then continues from the top!!!!
In conventional medicine, treatment of a hormonal imbalance usually involves hormone supplementation which only targets one of the glands, but, as we know, our system works as one. So, this simply puts a Band-Aid on the issue and does not get to the root cause and, therefore, does not bring about ultimate healing.
In an upcoming post I will cover how to tweak eating patterns and some suggested foods and supplements to include in your diet to help get a handle on your hormones. Stay tuned!!
In an upcoming post I will cover how to tweak your eating patterns and some suggested foods and supplements to include in your diet to help get a handle on your hormones. Stay tuned!!