Adrenal glands (noun): adrenal glands (also known as suprarenalglands) are endocrine glands that produce a variety of hormones including adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol. They are found above the kidneys. Each gland has an outer cortex which produces steroid hormones and an inner medulla.
Written by Guest Blogger: Melanie Legend, Fertility Coach, Naturopathic Medical Student with a focus on PCOS.
What are the adrenal glands?
They are an intricate component of something known as the HPA axis.
HPA: Hypothalamus, Pituitary Gland, and Adrenal Gland
The HPA axis if the direct connection between our brain and our stress hormones! When we undergo very stressful situations something called CRH is released from the brain which triggers the release of ACTH from the anterior pituitary which travels downstream to the adrenal gland.
Downstream effects of cortisol from the adrenal glands lead to:
- Weakened immunity
- High BP (Blood pressure) (Hypertension)
- High blood sugar levels (seen in diabetes)
- Digestive issues
- Anxiety and depression development (using up neurotransmitters)
- Nerve stimulation and problems (neuralgia)
How does high cortisol relate to infertility?
We just talked about stress and its link to the adrenal glands which results in the release of cortisol. The downstream effects of acute cortisol levels are manageable. It is when cortisol becomes elevated for a prolonged period of time, that we see the above-marked effects.
For all my coffee drinkers out there…
(1) Have you noticed after you drink a coffee (there’s a peak and then a crash) that is because the caffeine load puts pressure on the adrenals and produces an acute stress response. This brief release of adrenaline (as well as use of adenosine stores) causes a quick release of energy followed by the innate fall when the fuel “runs out”
(2) If you are someone who struggles with anxiety and mental health, you’ll notice that increased caffeine load and poor sleep habits are going to lead to an exacerbation of symptoms. This is again, because there is an increase load of stress and flood of adrenaline that then hyper-stimulates and activates the nervous system.
Why is this relevant to fertility?
Fertility is an energy-intensive process. Not only are your creating life within your womb but you are also using a lot of energy to sustain life during the 9-week process. Then once that process is completed the women will go into labour which takes more energy in one go than decades combined.
The body is intelligent and would not put itself in a place that compromises life. If the women’s current internal health and energy resources are minimal or compromised, the body will place itself in a state of infertility.
This isn’t something the body does to be against you. It does it to protect you.
The modern medical works on the assumption that the body is outside of ourselves. That it has the capacity to work against us, in terms of what is known as autoimmunity. This disconnect in science has to lead us to believe that the body is not powerful, that we are not powerful in our bodies.
What science has yet to understand is that the body never attacks itself. Instead, the body attacks foreign invaders (viruses, parasites, bacteria, fungi) and debris that is currently undetected by medical science.
This disconnect has led many women suffering from PCOS, endometriosis, fibroids, hypothyroidism to feel defeated and played by their genetics. This isn’t true.
Moving forward fertility will have to recognize two key influences that are slowly coming on the radar.
#1: The Role of Toxins
The role of toxins including (but not limited to) pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, chemical variants, solvents, and GMOs. And their influence on vital organs such as the liver and adrenal glands.
#2: The Role of The Mind
The role of the subconscious mind and its connection to our physiology and health. The subconscious mind influences our physiology from the very origins of our thoughts and the emotions they create. We are connecting the dots between mind-body and energy medicine slowly and understanding why practices like acupuncture have such a profound effect.
As we start to integrate a more holistic (full picture) approach to fertility we will start to really come into our healing and our power.
Melanie has always been passionate about women’s health, especially after navigating her own journey through PCOS. Her career is now geared towards infertility, pre & post natal treatments, with a drive to be of service to women & children. After working with multiple clients on hormone regulation, and fertility Melanie found her passion in redefining what fertility treatment looks like. Encompassing a mind-body-soul approach Melanie aims to teach women how to become empowered about their health, curious about their hormones and most importantly healed from the origin!
P.S. Catch this week’s episode of The Hormone P.U.Z.Z.L.E Podcast –Periods, Supplements, PCOS and More With Melanie Legend.
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