In this episode, I am diving into the relationship between adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalance—specifically estrogen imbalance. What causes estrogen imbalance? Is it adrenal fatigue, and what do we do about it?
First and foremost: what exactly is estrogen?
There are three different types of estrogen: estrone, estradiol, and estriol. While most estrogen is produced from the ovaries in women, the adrenal glands and fat cells are also responsible for producing estrogen hormones. Before we dive into how the adrenals impact estrogen, let’s first look at some of the signs of estrogen imbalance.
Estrogen Dominance is an imbalance that occurs when estrogen is too high relative to progesterone, another sex hormone. Estrogen and progesterone have a cadence – a rhythm that they engage in together. When they are in sync, things are good. Estrogen dominance occurs when estrogen gets a little out of hand and starts dominating the situation. This is very common, especially in this day and age where we are constantly exposed to xenoestrogens that can create hormone disruption through estrogen dominance.
Signs of Estrogen Dominance:
- Breast cysts, breast fullness, breast tenderness (even cyclic)
- Water retention
- Short menstrual cycles (less than 21 days)
- Mood swings
- Heavy periods
- Uterine fibers
- Depression, anxiety
- Hormonal migraines and headaches as natural estrogen drops
- Irregular vaginal bleeding
- Weight loss resistance or weight gain
- Cervical dysplasia
Estrogen that is too low also creates imbalance in estrogen levels and problems:
- Breast tenderness
- Hot flashes
- Missed periods
- Sleep struggles
- Mood problems and irritability
- Headaches and migraines
Roles and Benefits of Estrogen
- Stimulates cell growth
- Controls cholesterol levels
- Helps produce neurotransmitters like serotonin (happy chemical)
- Helps produce melatonin, our sleep hormone
- Regulates stress response
- Maintains skin and hair health
- Maintains bone health
- Prepares uterus for pregnancy
- Maintains healthy blood sugar levels
- Supports vaginal and urinary tract health
- Supports cognitive health and memory
- Controls inflammation
- Too-high or too-low estrogen levels have been linked to minor issues like breast tenderness and occasional headaches to more severe problems like uterine and breast cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.
Adrenal Fatigue and Estrogen Imbalance
Beyond creating cortisol and adrenaline, the adrenals are also responsible for producing hormones like pregnenolone and DHEA, which are both precursor for sex hormones like estrogen. Without it, you don’t have estrogen.
Because adrenal fatigue is driven by chronic stress, your body is going to prioritize producing stress hormones like cortisol over sex hormones like estrogen. That means your reproductive system gets put on the back burner because your body is more concerned with healing the stress that is at play.
It is so crucial to create space for rest and relaxation—to develop a healthy stress response and prioritize healthy eating and sleep.
Featured in this episode…