Adrenal fatigue has been getting a lot of attention in the wellness world recently, and for good reason. More and more women are questioning the narrative that feeling chronically fatigued and tired is normal as we age. They’re beginning to dive deep into research and feel empowered, rather than dismissed by conventional doctors. In this article, we’re going to discuss the top 6 adrenal fatigue symptoms and stages in women and what you can do about them.
If you’ve been feeling less than energized and without zest for life, this article is for you.
4 Adrenal Fatigue Stages
First things first: adrenal fatigue is way more common in women than it is in men. This is because not only are we often forced to be the caretaker, the worker, and everything in between—but our hormones are constantly in flux, while mens stay relatively stable throughout their lives.
It’s not typical to not have adrenal fatigue one day and then immediately have it the next day. There are adrenal fatigue stages, and it’s important to understand these so that you don’t enter into a worse stage.
1 – The first stage of adrenal fatigue is the alarm stage. This is the beginning stage that describes the body’s immediate reaction to a stressor. When we talk about stress we are taking about perceived stress: what stresses one person out may not stress out another. This stressor can be as simple as a job interview, a long to do list, or as difficult as a hospital stay, death in the family etc.
During the first stage, your adrenals and body are capable of having an appropriate stress response. Cortisol, adrenaline, DHEA, and insulin all rise to help take care of you. You benefit from a state of increases arousal and alertness. Stage one moves to stage two when perceived stress becomes consistent.
2 – Stage two is continuing the alarm phase. Chronic stress leads to chronic hormone release resulting in inflammation , hormone imbalance, etc. During this stage, you will start to feel the effects of over-exertion from your body’s stress system (HPA axis). Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue like we mention below now come into play. And most likely, a dependence on caffeine.
3 – Stage three is the resistance phase. During this stage your hypothalaumus tells your pituitary gland to slow down cortisol production in order to protect your body. This is when chronic fatigue really sets in and symptoms begin to rise.
4 – Stage four is the burnout phase which is when symptoms are at an all time high and it is very likely that you can reach adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s Disease. This is when the adrenals are no longer able to produce adequate hormones. Paying attention to your body before you reach burnout stage is critical. In the following information below, we dive into the common symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Take note of which ones you are experiencing. This way, you can begin your healing journey before you get any deeper into adrenal fatigue.
9 Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms in Women
1 – Chronic Fatigue
The number one adrenal fatigue symptom in females, although obvious, is chronic fatigue. No matter how much sleep you get, you still wake up exhausted and have to drag yourself through the day. Needing a cup or more of coffee just to get your day started is one of the top signs that you could be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
What happens when you have adrenal fatigue is that your cortisol production is backwards. In the morning, when cortisol levels are supposed to be at their highest, to get you energized for the day, they are instead at their lowest. Then, when cortisol levels are supposed to be at their lowest, right before bed, they are instead at their highest, fostering a tired but wired feeling.
2 – Salty Food Cravings
Another key adrenal fatigue symptom in females (males as well!) as well as an adrenal fatigue stage 1 is salty food cravings. If you feel like you need a bag of chips or a whole charcuterie board, you may have adrenal fatigue. Hear me out.
Salty food cravings are mainly thanks to the hormone aldosterone (a hormone regulated by the adrenals), which regulations potassium and sodium levels in the body. If you have adrenal fatigue, aldosterone becomes imbalance, thus causing you to crave the electrolytes that would typically be balanced.
Another reason you could crave salty foods as a result of adrenal fatigue is because you are dehydrated. Exhaustion and dehydration go hand in hand– and salty foods cravings is often a sign of dehydration.
For the adrenals and the entire endocrine system to function properly, you need to be getting the proper amount of electrolytes. Before reaching for a bag of chips, ask yourself if you’ve had enough properly mineralized water today. If your water isn’t properly mineralized, your cells aren’t getting the necessary hydration they need. Try our Hydration Superfood Powder to load up on necessary electrolytes and B vitamins for adrenal fatigue.
3 – Inability to Handle Stress
Adrenal fatigue is a vicious stress cycle. It starts with stress and then inevitably leads to more stress. As you know, the adrenals are responsible for producing and regulating stress hormones. Like adrenaline and cortisol. But when adrenaline and cortisol levels are out of balance, it becomes harder for you to deal with daily stressors.
If you’ve been finding yourself freaking out or having major breakdowns over minor inconveniences, you may have adrenal fatigue.
This can destroy work and home life, so it’s crucial to implement a daily stress-management technique to help reduce stress. This isn’t a quick fix, and it’s not something you just do and then
when you’re healed you stop. This is a lifestyle change that you need to make sustainable and life long.
One of my favorite ways to relieve stress is by deep breathing, you can learn more about that here.
4- Low to no sex drive
Low to no libido is a key symptom of adrenal fatigue. As we know, the root of adrenal fatigue HPA axis dysregulation is caused by chronic stress. Think about it – when you feel stressed, do you even have time to think about sex?
The adrenals aren’t responsible for only making stress hormones, they are also in charge of making sex hormones. For example, adrenals are key players in the production of testosterone, one of the hormones in charge of libido!
If your adrenal glands are not functioning at their optimal level, your sex drive might be less than healthy. If you’re asking “why is my sex drive gone”, check out this article.
5 – Struggles with Mood
Adrenal fatigue directly impacts mental health. If you struggle with feelings of low motivation, hopelessness, anxiety, and depression, it’s important that you get to the root. The root of adrenal fatigue is HPA axis dysfunction.
You can think of your HPA axis as your body’s internal stress system. When you are under chronic stress for too long, your hypothalamus and pituitary gland will signal your adrenal glands to slow down hormone production. When adrenal hormone production slows down, the rest of your endocrine system, including important mood-regulating hormones like serotonin and dopamine. When these happy chemicals aren’t being released enough, you can feel blah, numb, sad, angry, more irritable.
The key here is to nourish your hormones as much as possible with mood-boosting and adrenal-supporting foods. Check out this article to learn the top 15 mood foods.
6 – Increased PMS symptoms
Another common adrenal fatigue symptom in females is increased PMS symptoms. You may experience an increase in mood swings, bloating, cramps, headaches, and fatigue before and during your period. This has a lot to do with stress hormones being out of balance, impacting sex hormone production, mood hormones, gut health, and liver detoxification process.
The key here is going to be eating foods and consuming herbs that support PMS hormone balance as well as stress. Support in one area will always have positive ripple effects in another area. Check out this article to learn what the best foods for PMS hormone balance are.
7 – Weight Gain
Another common side effect in women with adrenal fatigue is weight gain. This has a lot to do with stress and a slow down in metabolism. We see an uptick of cravings and binges (whether emotional or physical hunger) and cake, candy, chips, and snacks are all at the mercy of our tummies.
When our adrenal hormones are thrown out of whack, our hunger hormone goes up. We are more stressed and more hungry. Cue survival mode: our bodies conserve fat and crave more. It’s not uncommon to have a more of a belly.
8 – Infertility
I hate that this is a symptom, because so many women are experiencing adrenal fatigue. And inevitably, infertility accompanies it. There is a. close correlation here because the adrenals help to keep your ovarian hormones in balance, vital for fertility. Stress, overwhelm, and hormone imbalance all play a significant role in your ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant.
9 – Hair Loss
For women, adrenal fatigue can be a more serious problem than for men and cause hair loss.A sudden decreases in the production of testosterone and DHEA (a precursor that facilitates natural testosterone production) can lead to increased hair fall out and less growth. Beyond that, oftentimes women with adrenal fatigue struggle with proper nutrient absorption. Without minerals and nutrients, the hair can not grow and instead dies and falls out. The key here is to get to the root of what is causing stress to that you can heal there. Then, adding in essential minerals and nutrients (which also help to decrease physical stress) is essential.
Other adrenal fatigue symptoms in females include:
- Dull skin
- Acne breakouts
- Slow healing time
- Afternoon slump
- Caffeine cravings
- Brain fog
- Lack of mental clarity
I hope this article has served as a practical breakdown of the most common adrenal fatigue symptoms in women. Unfortunately, more women than men experience adrenal fatigue. Learning more about adrenal fatigue, its root causes, and natural remedies puts you in the driver’s seat of your healing journey. To shop our favorite natural supplements for adrenal fatigue, go here.