Many women dread the onset of menopause…
Women make up 85% of my patients. Of those women, over the years, an average of 68% of them are also undergoing symptoms of perimenopause or menopause when they come to me.
Before the transition even begins, they’re told the experience will be anywhere from unpleasant to debilitating, and it often is. They’re ready and waiting for any and all of the following:
— Hot flashes
— Low libido
— Vaginal dryness
— Breast tenderness
— Unwanted weight fluctuations
— Worsening mood swings
— Night sweats
— Insomnia and frequent waking
If you’re reading this article, you may be suffering from quite a few of these symptoms. What you may not have been told by your doctors is that these severe menopausal effects on the body are not supposed to be the “norm.” Menopausal symptoms do not have to be debilitating. They don’t even have to be unpleasant.
Symptoms such as low libido, frequent mood changes, and hot flashes are most likely indicative of a deeper underlying issue.
Why Some Women Have Menopausal Symptoms…and Why Some Don’t
Menopause is a natural progression of ovarian hormone decline. It is a transitional process and should occur without symptoms.
We associate hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone with reproduction. But they are needed for more than fertility. Women still need these hormones to help build bones and muscle. They are important for cardiovascular health and more, and necessary during every stage of life.
Menopause is a transitional process and should occur without symptoms.
When the ovaries gradually start to decline during healthy perimenopause, the adrenals kick in and are expected to produce hormones that the ovaries stop producing. Yes, these same hormones! The adrenals pick up the baton and keep going.
When the adrenals are dysfunctional, however, the support of this gradual transition doesn’t occur. The time of menopause for women then becomes yet another “to do” for the adrenals, and the adrenal glands simply drop the ball on that process. This is when menopausal symptoms start to show up.
Why Do the Adrenals Drop the Ball?
We live in a society that has normalized chronic stress. Add this hustle-culture to our increasingly loud and toxic world, and you have a recipe for a malfunctioning stress response system.
By design, your stress response system was made for immediate response to an acute stressor. The response is life-saving when done on occasion.
Nowadays, however, there are so many demands on women in our society that the chronic stress takes a toll on their physiology. When exposed to this chronic stress over time, the suppression of the important rest-and-digest organs and systems leads to dysfunction, disease, and Adrenal Fatigue.
During perimenopause, the adrenals are expected to produce hormones that the ovaries no longer do.
When your limbic system senses a stressor, any stressor at all, the adrenals are in charge of moving energy away from rest-and-digest functions and toward the survival functions. This is when we start to see the first signs of menopausal symptoms.
And what’s one effect of this breakdown? Reproductive hormone imbalance.
Adrenal health directly affects ovarian hormone health.
When chronic stress occurs, Adrenal Fatigue is the result. The stress response is working overtime, and the adrenals just can’t do their job as they should. They certainly can’t pick up the baton from the ovaries by providing the estrogen or the progesterone needed to ease the transition into menopause.
Early Signs of Hormone Imbalance
Many of my patients, even before the onset of perimenopause, have experienced some form of ovarian hormone imbalance that often indicates the presence of Adrenal Fatigue. They may have experienced one or more of the following:
— PMS or PMS-D
— Debilitating cramps
— Miscarriages or infertility
— Estrogen dominance
— Low libido
— Breast tenderness
— Anxiety and depression
— Menstrual irregularities
Ovarian hormone imbalance and the accompanying weaknesses can present as menopausal symptoms when they are likely spawned by Adrenal Fatigue.
No doubt about it: some “quick-fixes” like herbs or HRT do help a lot of women…temporarily. But they can lead to other complications. It’s important to control the symptoms while investigating the root cause of the matter for complete healing.
Quick-fix prescriptions like progesterone, herbs, or HRT can lead to complications.
If a 40-year-old woman has strong adrenal function, her transition through menopause will be smoother. Whereas those women with weaker adrenal function may face a more challenging transition.
The good news is that adrenal hormone dysfunction is responsive to treatment so women can stop dreading “the change” and look forward to feeling more energized, alert, and in control of their bodies.
Why Most Doctors Neglect the Ovarian-Adrenal Link
Many of my patients who struggle with menopausal symptoms also have low ovarian hormone levels. A lab test measures the hormone levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) & luteinizing hormone (LH) in the bloodstream.
Most doctors simply look at these hormone levels and stop there. Conventional physicians convince women that night sweats, hot flashes, and mood changes are part of a “normal” process of aging. Even many integrative and anti-aging specialists miss this link between hormone imbalance and Adrenal Fatigue.
The severe symptoms of menopause are the result of an underlying condition.
Instead of addressing the root cause, both main and alternative doctors recommend prescribe gels, suppositories, pellets, and patches left and right, but the severe symptoms of menopause are the result of a completely different underlying condition.
Without addressing the hormone imbalance and Adrenal Fatigue, you will never find true balance. You may feel better for a temporary period, but in the long-run, you will experience side effects or the return of symptoms on a deeper level.
The Three Questions I’m Asked the Most
Can Menopause Cause Chronic Fatigue?
Menopause is not the root cause of chronic fatigue or many other painful symptoms people associate with it. It is the other way around. Miserable menopausal symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety or depression, and insomnia, are signs of Adrenal Fatigue.
Is HRT Necessary?
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) shouldn’t be needed to ease menopausal symptoms, not if you’re treating the root cause of hormone imbalance and Adrenal Fatigue.
Replacement hormones may bring some relief but won’t totally eradicate miserable menopausal symptoms.
The fact is a 50-year-old woman doesn’t have the hormones of a 20-year-old — nor should she. It’s not the body’s normal progression to go backward in time, tricking its organs into thinking they’re younger than they are. This tact can almost always provoke repercussions down the line, such as cancers or other ovarian issues.
I’m not totally against the use of bio-identical hormones. When a patient needs immediate relief, I occasionally recommend them in moderation.
Still, I feel it’s imperative to treat the root causes of hot flashes, night sweats, and irritability instead of just responding to the symptoms.
If I Treat Adrenal Fatigue Will My Libido Return?
Vaginal dryness, depression, and painful intercourse are the three biggest factors for menopausal women who have low libido. (All of those things have their root in a hormonal imbalance.
Treatment of Adrenal Fatigue and Hormonal Imbalance
The first step of healing is getting to the root of what’s inhibiting this delicate process. I treat the root cause, rather than using temporary fixes; if we treat only symptomatically, then more serious health issues will crop up in the future.
After two decades of working with Adrenal Fatigue patients, I’ve found that menopausal symptoms ease as we focus on healing the entire stress response system, not merely the adrenals, and certainly not just your hot flashes or low estrogen.
While treating the symptoms of menopause, we must also address the hormones associated with the HPA Axis, the autonomic nervous system (ANS), and limbic system of the brain. I do this using my Trilateral Approach.