Menopause and the Adrenal Glands


As women approach menopause, various hormonal shifts take place, notably involving sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone. However, there are other vital factors to consider in this transitional phase.

Today, I want to shed light on the significance of evaluating and managing adrenal dysfunction to help women alleviate or eliminate menopausal symptoms.

Menopause typically occurs between ages 42 and 58. Many women experience health challenges during this period. The universal sign is the cessation of menstruation, yet for many, symptoms encompass hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, low libido, mood swings, and fatigue. The path leading to menopause (peri menopause) might also include irregular, heavy menstrual cycles and mood changes.

Why do some women navigate menopause smoothly while others endure distressing symptoms?

The common belief in conventional medicine attributes menopausal symptoms to estrogen deficiency. However, it is important to note that estrogen decreases by only 40-50 percent during menopause, whereas progesterone levels can plummet close to zero. While estrogen deficiency plays a role, it’s insufficient in explaining the complete hormonal changes.

Frequently, treatments like birth control pills, hormone-based IUDs, hormone replacement therapy, or bio-identical hormones are used to manage symptoms. Though temporarily effective, they fail to address the underlying causes.

What’s missing in this explanation?

Low adrenal function stands out as a crucial underlying factor behind menopausal symptoms. Let’s explore why…

During menopause, the ovaries cease ovulation and reduce estrogen and progesterone production. To compensate, a woman’s adrenal glands—referred to as the ‘stress’ glands—step in to support the ovaries.

Interestingly, adrenals, like ovaries, produce progesterone and hormones like androstenedione (a precursor to estrogen and testosterone). Until menopause, adrenal involvement in female sex hormone production is minimal.

Throughout life, adrenals produce cortisol, aldosterone, and adrenaline, impacting energy levels, sleep patterns, blood pressure, and daily activities. However, many women endure tremendous stress, balancing child-rearing and careers, often without the traditional support systems found in other cultures.

In some cultures, communities and extended families assist during stressful times. For instance, in Japan, a tradition after childbirth restricts women from household duties, prioritizing rest and newborn care. Contrastingly, many women in Western societies experience prolonged stress, impacting adrenal health.

By menopause, the adrenals may be so depleted that they prioritize cortisol production over sex hormone synthesis, resulting in intensified menopausal symptoms and adrenal-related issues like fatigue, insomnia, and cravings.

Prevention is key; nurturing healthy adrenals significantly eases the menopausal transition. Addressing stress at its root and adopting coping strategies tailored to individual needs—such as meditation, spending time outdoors, practicing yoga, or socializing—can mitigate stress effects.

Chronic health conditions and hormonal imbalances are intricate and require comprehensive assessment. Naturopaths can offer a lot of support in this area.

When menopausal symptoms disrupt daily life, assessing adrenal imbalances is crucial. A comprehensive holistic health review, blood tests and salivary cortisol test can aid in evaluating adrenal function. This information empowers naturopaths to design personalized treatments for hormone balance.

Lifestyle changes coupled with specific vitamins and medicinal herbs can effectively address root causes and alleviate menopausal symptoms.

A holistic approach considering adrenal health often leads to improved therapeutic outcomes, enabling women to embrace menopause and to honestly enjoy this wonderful new phase of life.

In health and peace ~ Carly