Stress Induced Menopause
Stress comes in many shapes and sizes, and may not even be perceived as stress at all. According to Dr. Evan Mladenoff, “Stress is an ignorant state of mind that believes everything is an emergency.” Stress does not have to produce anxiety or even be perceived consciously before your internal organs believe there is an emergency situation. There are forms of “good” stress like marriage, responsibility, competition, dating, and child birth as well as “bad” forms such as financial insecurity, violence, unemployment, low self esteem, and death. In actuality, our body does not associate stress as “good” or “bad,” but reacts the same way whether the stress is physical, chemical, or emotional. Our bodies were built to respond to stress and do so very well, but as stress becomes chronic (continual) the stress regulating parts of the body begin to fatigue, and no longer work as well as intended. These sluggish stress regulators make it harder for your body to stay healthy.
Stress (whether emotional, chemical, or physical) is processed in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus sends a message to the anterior pituitary gland which is a small gland in the brain that helps regulate all of your hormones. As the pituitary gland secrets hormones in the blood signaling stress, another gland called the adrenal gland responds by secreting cortisol.
Cortisol is designed to control the body’s response to stress by stimulating the body to calm down. When there is to much cortisol production, or a chronic situation where cortisol is released over a long period of time, side effects occur. Many of these symptoms include disrupted sleep, poor digestion, weight gain, poor memory, and more.
As a woman, chronic cortisol secretion can contribute to menstrual disorders. High cortisol levels can lead to amenorrhea (stop menstruation), similar to heavy exercise. Excess cortisol creates a faster removal (conversion) of another hormone known as progesterone. As progesterone and estrogen become out of balance, and a woman nears menopausal age, her body often creates numerous symptoms of accelerated hormonal transition. Many women often report vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, weight gain, interrupted sleep, memory problems, heaviness in the bladder, and hot flashes as their hormones become out of balance.
The good news is, as we reduce stress through diet modification, nutritional supplementation, and light exercise we can balance cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. In this manner, many women find relief to menopausal symptoms without resorting to drugs or surgery. As a woman transitions from an adolescent, through child bearing and later into mature womanhood, she should not have to suffer from hormonal imbalances and symptoms. Balancing cortisol is one of the many tools we have to help these transition stages to be pleasant throughout a woman’s life. Do you have stress? Let us help you do something about it. Contact us here.