We are now living in very stressful days and the Coronavirus hasn’t helped.
We do need to try whatever we can to relax for the sake of our hormones but also for the sake of us.
We have learned to adapt to stress, which can be external stress like an annoying boss, stressful job, family drama, processed food, an environment that contains toxins or internal stress like low self-esteem. Sometimes we cope with extra stress like running 5km; yes, our body interprets it as extra stress as you are running from someone or something.
Our body is very sensitive to stress, especially us who have uteri, the plural of uterus, and this is where we will start to see hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal issues along with adrenal fatigue which influences our sex hormones. Eventually, we will be able to see it in our menstrual cycle if we are cycling naturally and charting.
The brain signals the adrenals to secrete stress hormones like cortisol. We need cortisol and it is an important hormone but when we are stressed it works differently. Naturally, we have high cortisol in the morning as our body gets stressed without food, so it wakes us up and it decreases during the day to low cortisol levels at night. One of the jobs it has is to free sugar from the liver so you can use it to run away from the stressor and this is not good news as it also might trigger diabetes, insulin resistance and other conditions. If we are in chronic stress, everything is off.
High cortisol all the time due to stress decreases the secretion of GnRH from the hypothalamus which is responsible for triggering the pituitary gland to secrete LH & FSH. Cortisol inhibits the secretion of FSH & LH for further attempts to ovulate and potential pregnancy. Over time the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, yes we also have it but in lower levels, are also compromised and here is the interruption of our natural menstrual cycle which can appear like anovulatory cycles, irregular ovulation, hypothalamic amenorrhea in some people or heavier periods and spotting in others.
If your brain manages to secrete FSH & LH and they reach the ovaries, cortisol blocks them from doing their work on the ovaries and blocks progesterone receptors which then mimics progesterone deficiency in the body. This can look like a short luteal phase, PMS, anxiety and other issues.
In one study on women going through IVF, high cortisol was found in the follicular fluid of the eggs that were not fertilized and it was lower in eggs that were successfully fertilized, meaning high cortisol may affect the maturation of the egg.
Our body works like all animals work; when it is stressed it will not reproduce. If we are facing something that our body reads as a stressor it will not want to procreate, it will put all the energy in flight or fight mode. It doesn’t understand the difference between a lion or a terrible boss.
But there is more.
Cortisol also can hinder thyroid hormone production. Similarly to the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone, CRH which is a hormone released in response to stress inhibits a thyroid hormone to be secreted from the hypothalamus which in turn will inhibit TSH secretion from the pituitary gland. High cortisol suppresses an enzyme responsible for converting T4 to T3, thyroid hormones, so you don’t have enough T3 leading to hypothyroidism.
All of that is due to high cortisol levels!
Stress is not great for so many bodily functions and many organs might be affected by constant high cortisol levels.
What can we do about it?
Calm ourselves. Do things that make us feel good, practice some self love, sex and orgasms are a very good way to release stress and there are so many ways other ways too. Herbs like Tulsi and Ashwagandha are also things that one can use.
We go to the beach once a day for 2 hours for some fresh air, nature and a change of scenery.
I will try to do some yoga with my children and listen to calming music like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goyZbut_KFY&t=480s
Try to do things for ourselves that we wouldn’t normally do. My online class series is also a good way 😊
I would love to hear from you about what you are doing for yourself.