The Cycle of Infertility
Trying to get pregnant can be such an exciting yet emotional time. Deciding to take that step in your relationship to have a baby and add another member to your family is huge. But so often infertility plays a role in a woman’s attempt to conceive.
It’s disappointing when you don’t get a positive pregnancy test. It’s also devastating when you do get that positive pregnancy test only to have it followed by a miscarriage. Some of my patients have even suffered from several miscarriages and are desperate to figure out why.
Even specialists tend to miss something when it comes to pregnancy challenges. Infertility and miscarriage can be directly related to the health of the adrenals.
One of the main focuses of infertility and miscarriage is hormone health. Hormone health is definitely a factor, but the deeper cause is directly tied to the state of the adrenal glands. During this time of infertility, it may feel like your body is failing you. But what is true is that your body is actually doing exactly what it was designed to do when you are in stress physiology.
The Processes of the Normal Ovaries
In a healthy setting, the ovaries work very much the same way as the thyroid and adrenals. The hypothalamus and pituitary are running the show.
When the hypothalamus perceives a need for ovarian hormones due to a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, it acts to stimulate the pituitary. The pituitary then stimulates the ovaries in order to begin production of estrogen and progesterone.
Pregnancy Challenges Are Related to the Health of the Adrenals
The majority of the cells in the body have receptors for estrogen and progesterone. However, the tissues of primary importance here are the ovaries and the uterus. Those are stimulated once the ovarian hormones bind to these receptors.
Upon binding and activation, the cells begin the process of developing an egg within the ovary (as is the case for progesterone). Or they develop the lining of the uterus to receive the egg (as is the case for estrogen). This is to prepare a woman’s body for conception and pregnancy.
The simplicity of this process is crucial to understand: The stress response directly tells your body not to reproduce.
The symptoms of ovarian suppression during the stress response in the short fterm are negligible, as they are with the thyroid. It is a temporary response, putting us in a brief fight-or-flight mode, after which the ovarian axis is allowed to kick on again.
The Stress Response Tells Your Body Not to Reproduce
Symptoms that develop depend on the patient’s stage of life. Let’s consider a prepubescent Olympic-level gymnast. She has a massive level of stress, by definition. We would see that puberty and the onset of a menstrual cycle itself are suppressed and, as a result, delayed for years.
But when this ovarian suppression occurs in women who are already menstruating, the symptoms become more complicated.
Low Progesterone and Infertility
Low progesterone places the woman in “estrogen dominance.” In estrogen dominance, she develops symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, moodiness, irritability, breast tenderness, spotting, and heavier bleeding. These symptoms are all due to a relatively lower progesterone level during the second half of her cycle when it should be highest.
With low progesterone, the uterus becomes less stable, which can lead to spotting, earlier menstruation, and shorter periods. Also, more estrogen during this time causes mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and insomnia.
- Anxiety and depression
- Insomnia and frequent waking
- Breast tenderness
- Irritability and mood swings
- Spotting or heavy periods
- Risk of miscarriage
Low progesterone can also lead to infertility issues. In some women who manage to conceive during times of stress and low progesterone, the risk of miscarriage is elevated.
This process can turn into a vicious cycle. You go month-to-month waiting to take your next pregnancy test, and they are negative each time. Even a positive test result may result in a miscarriage.
The Toll Stress Takes on the Rest of Your Body
The physical and emotional toll that takes on your body is the last thing that your adrenals need. The good news is, with the right support, this can be healed.
The key to correcting infertility caused by Adrenal Fatigue is avoiding chasing red herrings and secondary dysfunctions. We must focus on the entire stress response system, not merely the adrenals, and certainly not just the reproductive hormones.
Correcting infertility doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be intentional. The entire body must be able to support and sustain a healthy pregnancy. There is one holistic way to do this, and it starts with my Trilateral Healing Protocol.