How Stress Creates Female Hormone Imbalance
Don’t let this happen to you!
Stay at home. Shelter in place. Quarantine. Lockdown.
Cook. Clean. Work. Home-school. Work. Cook. Clean. Work.
There are so many moms in similar situations right now – trying to work from home, keep up with the cooking, cleaning, and home-schooling (I get it! I have 3 school-aged kids) during this pandemic. It’s super crazy most days, a bit overwhelming at times, and definitely a different kind of “stressful” than we are used to. Right?
I was talking with a client several months ago (well before all of this coronavirus madness), and she shared with me that she felt like as soon as she had turned 45, her hormones were “making her crazy” – she felt like she was snapping at her 9-year-old daughter more often, about things that would never have been a big deal in the past. This type of short fuse was always worse right before her period was due, but lately, it seemed like her mood, energy, patience, and mind function shifted almost 2 whole weeks beforehand!
Then the madness of the pandemic kicked in and the roller-coaster became even bumpier. She had recently talked with her mother about it and learned that her mom had gone through horrible menopause. In fact, her relationship with her mother was super strained during that time because of it, and she was worried that her hormones were going to turn her into a crazy person too!
The stress of being a parent- working, cooking, cleaning, homework help, car-pooling, etc, etc, etc – seems to require super-powers these days. It is no surprise to me that after years of unrelenting stress, our hormones are taking a hit! Couple that with what we are dealing with today, and many of us are really beginning to think…
What happened to the woman I used to be?
HOW STRESS AFFECTS OUR HORMONES
The first thing to understand about how stress affects us is that stress affects women differently than men. In fact, studies have found that stress affects women differently not only when it comes to emotional responses, but that it takes a greater toll on our physical and mental health. When stress hits, hormones such as cortisol are released, which impact the immune system, digestive system, skin and more. And it may be undermining your health more than you realize. Here are a few of the effects of stress on a woman’s health.
- Acne – Higher levels of cortisol can cause excess oil production that contributes to acne breakouts.
- Irregular Periods – Stress fundamentally alters the hormonal balance in your body which can lead to missed, late or irregular periods.
- Increased Risk of Heart Disease/Stroke – A 2012 study of over 22,000 women found that women under high amounts of stress at work were 40% more likely to experience heart attack or stroke.
- Reduced Sex Drive – Higher levels of cortisol in the body suppresses the body’s natural sex hormones, which results in a lower libido.
- Depression – Women are two times as likely to experiences depression as men, and part of that reason may be because of high levels of cortisol that occurs during times of great stress.
- Weight Gain – Research has linked higher levels of cortisol to more weight around the belly area for women, not to mention a decreased metabolism. Plus, you’ve likely noticed how you crave fats & sugars more during stressful times, which doesn’t improve the situation!
- Decreased Fertility – Studies have shown recently that women who have higher levels of the enzyme, alpha-amylase, which is linked to stress, have a harder time getting pregnant.
So, what’s a woman supposed to do?
HOW TO MANAGE STRESS & HORMONAL IMBALANCE
Stress may be inevitable, but the damage from stress doesn’t have to be! Here are just a few ways you can help alleviate the effects of stress on your body.
- Essential Nutrients & Supplements – Herbs and nutrients that are adaptogens can help regulate the secretion of cortisol. Here’s a list of useful ones:
- B vitamins
- Lifestyle Strategies – Your lifestyle habits can have a huge impact on your overall health, mood, mindset, stress levels, and more. There are lifestyle changes you can make (if you’re not already doing them) to help you better balance your stress levels.
- Get enough sleep (so important!!)
- Exercise regularly (aerobic exercise, in particular, helps lower cortisol levels)
- Avoid sugary, refined carbs, and other foods that promote inflammation
- De-stress with yoga, meditation, journaling, etc. Any exercise that helps you center your mind will help!
- Hydration will help your body fight off the negative effects of stress.
- Talk to a friend. Talking with friends can help you reframe problems, brainstorm solutions, and help you feel less alone.
- Work with a health coach! How can working with a health coach help you manage stress? Here’s how:
- It gives you someone to talk to and be accountable to.
- It can help you identify chronic behaviors that are affecting you negatively. You might be stressing yourself out more than needed without even realizing it. A health coach can help you figure out where to improve your lifestyle.
- It creates mindfulness. Working with a health coach helps create an attitude of mindfulness as you actively reflect on behaviors and figure out what is working and what is not.
Right now, we’re living through some highly stressful, scary times but there are ways to handle the negative emotions and lifestyle changes. If you’re ready to take more control of your life and emotions, now is the time to set-up an appointment for a free consultation. Contact me today to find out how I can help you!