Adrenal Fatigue When Trying to Conceive: Does it Really Affect Your Fertility?
Adrenal fatigue affects your fertility much more than you may have thought and even kick off hypothyroidism. So if you are trying to conceive and have adrenal stress symptoms, you need to be addressing all types of stress.
I'm sure that you've been told "oh, you just need to relax, and then you'll fall pregnant". However annoying and often misplaced this comment is, there is some truth to it, because did you know that the glands that produce stress hormones, your adrenals, could really be messing with your fertility?
I know many of you may have heard of adrenal fatigue or adrenal depletion, but for those of you that have never heard of these tiny little glands, let's talk about what they do and what they have to do with your sex hormones.
Your adrenal glands are tiny. They're on top of your kidneys. They're about the size of your thumbs. Your kidneys are about the size of your fists, and then your thumb size is about the adrenals that are on top of them.
Adrenal glands produce stress hormones and DHEA
Now, for two glands that are this tiny, they have a pretty big job. You may have heard of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Well, your adrenal glands are the one that produce them.
However, they also produce DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone. DHEA is the precursor to hormones you have heard of, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, all the goodies. This is why DHEA is also called the mother hormone.
Impact of stress
If you are under temporary stress, your adrenals will prioritize producing the stress hormones over DHEA and sex hormones. This is why you might see that if you had a very hectic time or you had a big fight with somebody or you've been sick, that you ovulate later in the month. When your temporary stress goes, everything will go back to balance.
However, if you have chronic stress, this becomes a huge problem, because what happens then is called the pregnenolone steal, because DHEA is made from the precursor hormone, pregnenolone. This is also called the grandmother hormone. Since DHEA is the mother hormone, pregnenolone is the grandmother hormone. If you are under chronic stress, your adrenals will start to steal pregnenolone to produce stress hormones rather than DHEA. So you get into big trouble then. Since DHEA drops anyway as we age, us women that are about 30 are especially sensitive to this pregnenolone steal. So now you understand that chronic stress that reduces DHEA leads to hormone imbalance, and as a result, you might see irregular cycles, anovulatory cycles, late ovulation. But you will also see other hormone-related issues such as menstrual headaches, migraines, PMS or PMD, however you want to call it, and even severer cases such an endometriosis, PCOS, and polyps. These are just a few of the things that I can mention that can be a result of this chronic hormonal imbalance due to stress.
Lack of cervical mucus
Here's another one, lack of cervical mucus. I know you guys don't like that. Neither do I. A chart that looks what I call adrenal will have very up and down temperatures. Some temperatures will dip really low, and some will peak, and you get this rocky mountain chart. Before you conclude that your chart is adrenal, you need to make sure that you are actually taking your temperature the same time every morning and that you don't have crazy broken sleep and that you are using the appropriate thermometer, so a BBT thermometer, not just a regular kind that you have in your medicine cabinet.
Adrenal stress induced hypothyroidism
So you thought the pregnenolone steal was an issue? It gets worse. The normal thing, which we are very far away from, is that if you have a lot of stress going on, that you rest more, that you play more, that you sleep and that you're able to recuperate. However, in this society where everything is go, go, go, go, go, and you go from stressy traffic or stressy public transportation to stressy emails to stressy notifications on your phone to having to cook dinner for your family or just for yourself or watching even the news, we are under chronic stress.
So it is very hard to actually switch off and rest and recuperate. However, our body has this little safety gadget, and it's called our thyroid. You may know that our thyroid is responsible for metabolism in our body, and if we are under stress for longer periods of time, the thyroid kind of says, hang on, we should slow down metabolism, because what's the result of slowed down metabolism? Our temperature goes down, so we get kind of cold, we don't burn fat as much, so we get fat and we get tired.
So if you are cold and fat and tired, chances are, you might start to hibernate and actually rest and get some sleep. However, this is usually the moment that you will go and see your doctor, you have blood tests run, and you get the diagnosis that your thyroid is under functioning. Well, it was trying to make you rest. However, the result is often that we're supplemented with thyroid medication. We feel better, never address the root cause, and just keep on going, and we've spiraled down when it comes to our hormonal imbalance.
So while a chart that is very adrenal will have very up and down temperatures, if you've already gone into the hypothyroidism, your temperatures will always just be low. So if you're measuring in Celsius temperatures under 36, definitely thyroid-related, or if it's in Fahrenheit, under 97. If you're balancing anywhere between 36 and 36.2 or 97 ad 97.2, then I would say you're on the verge of going into the hypothyroidism.
So whether you have just adrenal stress or you have adrenal stress-induced hypothyroidism, the goal is for you to get your adrenals back onto their feet so that you can restore your overall hormonal imbalance and improve your chances of falling pregnant again, right, because that's what it's all about.
Change your lifestyle to boost your fertility
However, if you want to reduce stress in your life, you shouldn't just be thinking about, oh, I should work less or I shouldn't do this much. There are a lot more things that cause stress in your body and throw it into a little panic. So when it comes to your lifestyle factors that you can change, not only is working hard and not resting enough an issue for your adrenals, but drinking too much alcohol of caffeine or using other stimulants like tobacco, those really stress out your adrenals as well.
And you know what, another thing that stress out your adrenals is suppressed emotions or unprocessed trauma. So if things have happened in your past that you just didn't want to look at, then maybe this is the time to process it, because have you got any idea how much energy it cost to suppress those emotions and that past hurt? Just think of trying to hold a beach ball under the water. Initially, it's not too hard, but it gets harder and harder. It costs a lot of energy. It's the same with suppressing emotions and not processing trauma.
Food sensitivity affects your fertility
Then there are a few other common sources of chronic stress. This can be food sensitivity. Maybe you don't respond very well to dairy or to gluten, but you continue to eat it. That could be an issue, because it throws your body into inflammation.
That brings me to another thing. If you have a chronic infection going on in your body, again, that brings stress in your body.
While we're talking about food, let's talk about our sugar balance. If you have poorly managed sugar balance, so maybe you don't have breakfast, but then you eat sweets in the afternoon so your sugar goes up and down: huge stress factor. Your body actually thinks that it's going to die when your sugar is that low, so better address that.
Metal toxicity and drugs is a cause of infertility
Then there are two other things that can really put a lot of pressure on your body and cause stress, and the first is heavy metal toxicity. But also, taking drugs routinely, and whether that's recreational drugs or it's prescription drugs or just over-the-counter drugs, that puts a lot of stress on your body, because it's going to have to excrete the toxic stuff. So it puts a lot of pressure on your liver, and it causes general stress as well.
So now you know how unhealthy adrenals can throw you into hypothyroidism and really mess with your fertility. However, you've also got a few starting points that you can use to start reducing stress in your life and in your body. If you're interested in more methods to get pregnant naturally, feel free to check out our fertility supplements.