Does Stress Affect your Hormone Health?

Written by Sharon Pendlington of Personal Nutrition

You better believe it does!  And in my opinion, in may be THE most important factor in regaining your hormone health.

Simply put, chronic stress taxes the adrenals. During a stressful situation, the adrenals release cortisol in order to provide energy for you to either fight danger or escape.  With chronic stress, the adrenals become exhausted and can no longer release sufficient cortisol to cope with stressful events.  Under-functioning adrenals can leave you susceptible to digestive issues, sugar cravings, emotional instability, inflammation, weight gain around the middle, suppressed thyroid function, bone loss and of course, hormone imbalance.

You will rely on your adrenals even more during perimenopause and menopause, when they pick up the hormone-producing slack from the underactive ovaries.  If your adrenals are under-functioning due to chronic stress, they won’t be able to produce your steroid hormones (such as progesterone, DHEA, testosterone, aldosterone and your estrogens).  Then you will likley experience symptoms of hormone imbalance during these transitions.

In addition, both the prodcution of cortisol your steroid hormones rely on the same precursors. Meaning that as cortisol is produced under stress, you will lack the precursors to produce your steroid hormones for hormone health. Without proper levels of these steroid hormones, we may feel bloated, a lack of sexual interest, PMS, memory loss, hot flashes and insomnia. That’s no fun, but it doesn’t have to be this way!

I mentioned earlier that learning to cope with stress may be the most important factor for you regaining your hormone health. You will benefit from eating all the right foods and taking natural supplements to support your adrenals, but if you are constantly under stress, your adrenals simply will not be able to keep up, and you will notice symptoms of hormone imbalance. Meditative exercise or calming routines can support your adrenal function and help you to cope with stressful situations.  I invite you to choose one calming activity that you can commit to practicing on a regular basis, preferably daily. Here are a few to choose from:

  • Yoga

  • Tai Chi

  • Walking in nature

  • Qi gong

  • Avoid multi-tasking

  • Learn to say “No”

  • Emotional Freedom Technique

  • Counselling

  • Set a timer to take work breaks

  • Light exercise or stretching

  • Socializing

  • Napping

  • A tea ritual

  • Deep breathing

Learn more about Sharon here on BeWellTV

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