Adrenal Glands, Adrenal Fatigue and Menopause

The adrenal glands play an important role during a woman's life, especially with regards to hormone production. They are the only source of testosterone (a woman's body does produce small amounts of testosterone), and also contribute to the body's production of female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.

The adrenal glands' importance when it comes to sex hormone production and the menstrual cycle become obvious when a woman's body experiences a high level of stress. Since the adrenals also produce the stress hormone, cortisol, which comes from pregnenolone, the same basic compound that all the sex hormones come from, high stress often results in reduced sex hormone production. This causes menstrual problems as well as a range of other unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms.

Furthermore, women who are diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, resulting from chronic (long-term) stress, tend to experience more severe symptoms of PMS.

The adrenal glands importance becomes even more pronounced during the transition into menopause as well as post menopause. Since the ovaries begin to decrease their output of the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, during the transition into menopause, the adrenals are required to increase their production of these hormones to make up for the ovaries' decreasing hormonal contributions. This is essential for the process of menopause to proceed as smoothly as possible.

Peri-menopausal (menopause transition) and menopausal women who experience adrenal fatigue tend to be more likely to suffer with the symptoms commonly associated with peri-menopause simply because their adrenal glands are unable to cope with the increased demand for sex hormone production. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Hot flushes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Severe pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irregular periods
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Therefore, it simply makes sense that peri-menopausal and menopausal women who experience these symptoms severely and who also have a lot of stress in their lives are very likely to suffer with adrenal fatigue.

    Adrenal Glands

    This means that finding ways to reduce the level of stress in their lives, reduce the impact stress has on their body, and to nourish and support their adrenal glands is absolutely essential!

    Here are some of the most effective ways to help support normal, healthy-functioning adrenal glands:

  • Engage in pleasurable activities
  • Use relaxation techniques
  • Meditate
  • Practise breathing exercises
  • Use stress-relieving/ adrenal-nourishing herbs, like rhodiola rosea

  • Engage in pleasurable activities

    This may include spending time with friends and family, enjoying a hobby, exercising, shopping, or going out for dinner, movies, etc. These all help to reduce your stress levels.

    Use relaxation techniques

    There are plenty of books, CDs, and information online that explains the processes you can go through to relax your body and decrease your stress levels.


    Meditation is a proven way to reduce stress by increasing the production of alpha waves in your brain.

    Practise breathing exercises

    Since your breathing, heart rate and adrenal output are all intimately related, consciously regulating your breathing by breathing deeply and slowly can go a long way in reducing the stress levels in your body.

    Use stress-relieving/ adrenal-nourishing herbs, like rhodiola rosea

    Rhodiola rosea is an 'adaptogenic herb', which means it increases the body's resistance to stress and has a normalising influence on physiology.

    Rhodiola contains a number of biologically-active compounds that offer a range of health benefits, particularly when it comes to stress. BCN Health's Rhodiola Advanced contains standardised levels of these active ingredients that are proven to be effective in reducing the impact stress has on the body. By doing so, it may be useful in normalising the menstrual cycle in women and making the transition into menopause more manageable.

    For more information about the relationship between the adrenal glands and menopause, please watch this video:

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