Choose Inspiration and Relaxation for a Happier Menopause!Sep 06, 2021
When I teach and talk with my patients about menopause, in every class I stress “The One Big Thing” for you to take away from the conversation. Here is (trumpet fanfare) the one big thing for you:
The one most important thing you can do to feel awesome through menopause and beyond is manage your stress!
Over the past 20 years of seeing patients, I have observed this time and again. Why? Because of the intricate interconnectedness of our different hormones. Our adrenals, thyroid, and reproductive hormones are all governed by the brain. This means two things: first, while hormones can be impacted by a wide variety of factors, our thoughts and feelings can have a profound impact on their function. Second, when one hormone system gets out of balance, the others will follow. This is why I often refer to our hormones as a “symphony”--each individual component has a distinct job, but must work together with all the other hormones to create a balanced person.
So how does stress specifically impact symptoms of menopause? Well, it starts and ends with the adrenal glands. Our adrenals are where stress hormones--specifically adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol are made. In this culture, we tend to run our adrenals pretty hard--we work long hours, pack our schedules, and feel stress in work, relationships, and home life. So often, by the time we reach our late 30’s our adrenal glands are often fatigued and overtaxed.
It just so happens that at that same time our reproductive hormones start to shift. As women, our reproductive hormones are primarily produced in our ovaries. As we move towards menopause, our ovaries stop producing those hormones and their production moves up to the adrenal glands. If our adrenals are already tired and overworked, the additional job of producing reproductive hormones is much more challenging. This can impact our ability to produce both adrenal and reproductive hormones and can cause many of the common symptoms of menopause--fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, hot flashes, and night sweats--to be considerably more severe.
Conversely, when we cultivate habits that encourage relaxation, sleep enough, and do the things that inspire us, the adrenal glands will be healthier. This will allow them to take on new responsibilities more easily, and make the transition before, through, and after menopause feel so much better. So find the time to relax, find your joy, and feel the health!
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