Are Your Adrenals Behind Your Irregular Period?
By Nat Kringoudis — The Hormone Revolutionist + Fertility Fixer
Adrenals. Those amazingly underestimated glands that sit perched on your kidneys and produce both your stress hormones and your sex hormones. I had to ask myself, could their function be more bipolar since our stress hormones literally turn off our sex hormones? Well actually, they are super smart and not only produce hormones to help you survive, these same hormones in some instances actually become pre-cursors for your sex hormones. Why work harder when you can work smarter? You’re body has got you girl.
These glands are deeply wired to the rest of your body via the HPA axis. That is the lines of communication between the hypothalamus, pituitary and your adrenals. If that sounds like a lot, here’s what you need to know. The hypothalamus (in your brain) signals your pituitary (just at the stem of the brain) to stimulate the adrenals to get jobs done by way of steroid hormones like DHEA, adrenaline or dopamine to name just a few. The adrenals control chemical reactions like fight or flight – that’s a big job. In a nutshell, they are triggered under stress to keep you safe. Problem is, we’re more constantly stressed than ever, due to our hectic lifestyles and modern living, hence the notion that our adrenals are not coping and ‘fatigued’ because we are putting them in a position where they need to be consistently on, rather than the natural ebbs and flows we’re designed for.
Stress, be it an oncoming car, flying in a plane if that’s a scary thought for you or public speaking, triggers your hypothalamus to release corticotropin-releasing hormone which triggers the pituitary, thus stimulating its hormone ACTH which then pushes your adrenals to make cortisol. Stay with me – I know it gets a bit much! But, cortisol is a super bossy hormone and performs a variety of tasks like raising blood sugar and getting ready for fight or flight. Adrenaline, also produced by the adrenals has a similar stimulating effect, raising your heart rate and your blood pressure. Thinking about why you’d need raised blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure tells you what’s supposed to happen next. We’re suddenly given the surge we need to take on stress, like saving somebody from pending danger or running away from harm. We get the energy charge needed to save ourselves.
We need this process – it’s life saving. But what we don’t need is it consistently or without the follow through.
Our body will continue to push the adrenals to make these hormones until such a time they’ve reached necessary levels to save us, triggering yet another hormone response to shut it all down. This later hormone response isn’t anything other than more of what’s already being served – cortisol. When cortisol levels get to where they should be, they signal and inhibit both the hypothalamus and pituitary to stop, and the cycle stops. Done.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with your stop/start period, stay with me.
You may have heard of the term adrenal fatigue. It gets a bad wrap depending on who you are talking to, as it isn’t yet considered a ‘medical term.’ It’s a name, branded by complimentary health practitioners to explain the end result of overworked adrenals – because you know, they can only keep up for so long. Eventually you may find yourself in a position where your hypothalamus and pituitary are still firing all the right signals, but the adrenals are so worn out, they’ve become unreliable, unable to produce the hormones needed under stress – aka adrenal fatigue, exhaustion or plain down and out.
Here’s what you came for…
Why is it that my adrenals may be to blame for my intermittent period? We’re talking about a period that has a flow for 3 – 4 days, stops and then fires right back up day 5 – 6 before it ends. There is yet another important piece of the puzzle which is that the OAT axis, that is the Ovarian – Adrenal – Thyroid axis. Much like the HPA axis, the OAT axis works to ensure hormones are yet again well balanced. When one of these is affected, we can see a host of issues arise as it may affect insulin, oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Each of these hormones are a key player in various body functions and it’s this disruption that can lead to symptoms like intermittent period flow because the signals and messages aren’t being fully fired. This is just one example of many unwanted signs that may show up due to imbalance.
It’s nice to know that none of us are going crazy (we’re all in the same hormonal boat here!) and that best self, that girl who is energetic, calm and joyous is inside each of us patiently waiting be be unleashed. I can see her, ready to pull off the mask, shake her luscious locks and take things on as she once did. Its just a matter of getting to the crux of our hormones and I’ve done the work for you. It’s time we got her out.
There are various tangible tools that you can implement to begin to get your Adrenals working smarter and not harder. Given this topic is so big, it’s near impossible to really get the answers you need without being able to share them with you at length.
You may contact Nat Kringoudis for further information
** Article taken with permission