Too many women go through life experiencing unpleasant symptoms like decreased energy, depression or low mood, decreased sex drive, and lower tolerance for stress without realizing there is help. In many cases, these women are misdiagnosed with other conditions, or their symptoms are treated without addressing the underlying problem: adrenal fatigue.
The adrenal glands are a pair of small glands that sit atop the kidneys. Although they have a number of functions, they are chiefly responsible for producing the “stress hormone” cortisol, which controls your “fight or flight” response. In response to a stressor, the adrenal glands pump out extra cortisol. The extra cortisol prepares the body to fight or run by narrowing blood vessels, increasing heart rate and perspiration, and heightening senses. Aside from cortisol, the adrenal glands in women also produce smaller amounts of other hormones including pregnenolone, adrenaline, testosterone, progesterone, DHEA, and estrogen.
This short-term reaction to stress is essential for dealing with dangerous situations. However, in today’s world, more and more women are under chronic, low-grade stress, meaning their adrenal glands are continuously producing high levels of cortisol. Over time, the body becomes immune to this increased cortisol, and the adrenal glands work harder to produce even more of it. Eventually, the adrenal glands become compromised, or exhausted, and can no longer produce adequate levels of any adrenal hormones.
The result? Widespread hormone imbalance and a host of unpleasant symptoms.
Aside from stress, adrenal exhaustion is also closely related to lifestyle factors such as eating a poor diet, lack of exercise, poor nutritional status, and lack of sleep.
Women are at higher risk for adrenal fatigue than men, and it can have wider ranging consequences. Low cortisol due to adrenal fatigue often results in disturbance in the levels of other hormones in women such as progesterone and thyroid hormone. Likewise, hormone imbalance caused by perimenopause and menopause may lead to chronic stress that worsens adrenal fatigue. For these women, the symptoms of adrenal fatigue—exhaustion, lack of interest in sex, anxiety, and others—are added to and compounded by the symptoms of hormone imbalance.
Because adrenal function is so closely related to thyroid function and steroid hormone status, many women are misdiagnosed as hypothyroid or suffering from perimenopause when in fact the problem is their adrenal glands. The only way to correctly diagnose adrenal fatigue is to consult with a qualified physician and undergo a battery of comprehensive tests. The doctors are Genemedics Health Institute are expert at identifying and treating adrenal exhaustion.
Healthy adrenal function is closely related to lifestyle, so the first step to treating adrenal fatigue is to make lifestyle changes to support your adrenal glands. Certain foods and supplements rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B5, B6, B12, and magnesium have been shown to support healthy adrenal function. Low-impact exercise such as walking, biking, yoga, and swimming can also help reduce stress and restore adrenal function. You should, however, avoid high-impact activities like cross fit training, which can add to the burden on the adrenal glands. Finally, you should actively pursue stress-reduction techniques including mindfulness exercises, meditation, and relaxation exercises.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is also highly recommended in many cases to help correct hormone imbalance. Because the adrenal glands are intimately involved in producing a wide range of steroid hormones, adrenal exhaustion can result in deficiencies or imbalance in hormones including estrogen, DHEA, and progesterone. A Genemedics physician can help identify these imbalances and develop a personalized plan to correct for any underlying hormone imbalance while simultaneously addressing the adrenal exhaustion.
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