Anxiety, heart palpitations, hot flushes, and sweating through your pyjamas and sheets at night. These are common experiences for women during perimenopause. But did you know that higher stress levels often correlate with worse symptoms? This is why I like to recommend adrenal support during the menopause transition.
Perimenopause typically begin in a woman's mid 40s to 50s and the symptoms can last for 2 to 7 years, although this timeline varies from woman to woman. On average, an Australian woman can expect to reach menopause (ceasing of periods) at about age 51, plus or minus 5 years.
As we get closer to menopause, reproductive hormone levels decline because the ovaries no longer produce estrogen or progesterone. This change in hormone levels is what drives the symptoms we experience.
The role of adrenal glands during menopause
The adrenal glands are located on the kidneys and one of their roles is to make hormones. Adrenal glands are most commonly known for making adrenalin and cortisol which are hormones produced as part of our stress response (fight or flight) and our sleep/wake cycle (circadian rhythm).
Clues that your adrenal glands may need support include poor sleep, changes in the way you are able to deal with stress, blood sugar fluctuations, fatigue, changes in mood and reduced mental clarity. Low adrenal function can be caused by a long duration of coping with too much stress.
As our ovaries begin to decrease in function and stop producing progesterone and estrogen, the adrenal glands respond. The adrenal glands answer by making a hormone that can be converted into estradiol, a form of estrogen. Estradiol plays a role in bone health, heart health and neuroprotection after menopause. This is just one of the reasons why healthy adrenal glands are important in menopause.
Are you stressed?
It is extremely common for women to live with increased stress levels during perimenopause. This is a life stage that can be accompanied by huge responsibilities at work and at home. And yet when I question women about their stress levels, they often deny that they are under stress. I believe this is because what women juggle day to day is considered 'normal' in our society.
Some questions to consider: Are you always rushing? Do you have a low level of anxiety each day while you try to fit everything in? Do you need a few more hours in each day? If you answered 'yes' to these questions, then you're actually experiencing everyday stress and your stress levels are likely to be worsening any hot flushes and contributing towards palpitations, night sweats, fatigue, anxiety and brain fog.
Adrenal support for menopause
In my clinic I prioritise supporting adrenal health when I consult with menopausal women. Gentle herbal adrenal support can reduce menopause symptoms quite remarkably. A holistic approach to menopause combines herbal remedies with identifying and removing triggers for stress in your life if possible. Yoga, exercise, meditation and journalling can all be part of a support plan to give your adrenal glands a well needed break.
After a consultation I prepare individualised herbal tonics with extracts to support adrenal function and a healthy nervous system response. I combine adrenal herbs with traditional menopause extracts such as black cohosh and sage to improve hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations and other symptoms. I find it's the combination that works well, and each remedy contains herbs specific to the woman I'm working with.
If you suspect that your adrenal glands could be playing a role in your menopause symptoms please get in touch. I look forward to working with you.
I am a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and certified wellness coach.
I welcome men and women to consult with me at my Surry Hills clinic, or online from anywhere in Australia.
The information in this blog is from my B. Health Science degree, experience from working with women in my clinic, and continuing research.
This blog is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please seek assistance for any medical concerns.