Adrenals, Stress, Burnout and Fertility

About 15% of our sex hormones are produced
by our adrenals and this is why adrenal health is so important. Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and while they may be small,
they have huge responsibilities. They regulate stress response and produce essential
hormones that impact body functions,
including fertility. When your hormones aren’t balanced, your fertility is compromised.


When adrenals are overburdened from ongoing stress it can contribute to reproductive issues in both men and women. High levels of cortisol production from ongoing stress, snowballs into hormone imbalances and may lead to a feeling of constant fatigue. While the adrenals are working so hard to produce cortisol in response to stress, the production of oestrogen, progesterone, and DHEA takes a knock.

Cortisol is meant to be released short-term, in response to stress (fight-or-flight situations), so it wouldn’t normally interfere with these other hormones long-term, and fertility wouldn’t suffer. But chronic stress in the form of intense emotions, physical bodily injury, overexertion -including over exercise, the daily rushing through life, or even through environmental factors such as toxins, throws all hormones out of whack.

Eventually, the adrenal glands become too exhausted to keep up with the body’s cortisol demands and production drops off to lower than normal levels. And when fertility problems show up, even more stress and anxiety causes the constant release of adrenaline and cortisol. The presence of adrenalin, signals to our body that conditions are not ideal for conception so the body will hold off until conditions improve.

Adrenaline also inhibits us from utilising progesterone, which is essential for fertility, implantation and support of the developing embryo. In addition – it suppresses ovulation, sexual activity and sperm count.

Adrenal fatigue can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night which affects hormone balance and semen quality. At the same time, not sleeping well contributes adrenal fatigue which ultimately creates a vicious circle.

Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Still feeling tired first thing in the morning with difficulty getting up
  • Junk food cravings (especially sweets and refined carbs!)
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Decreased libido
  • Brain fog
  • Lowered  immune system function
  • Need for stimulants, like sugar or coffee, to get through the day
  • Low tolerance for stressful situations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lack of appetite and other digestive disturbances
  • Fatigue no matter how much sleep you get

The foods that work best to combat adrenal fatigue are similar to any well-balanced diet:

Whole foods with plenty of fruit and vegetables – especially leafy greens (organic where possible), and seeds which are high in Vitamin B and magnesium.

People with adrenal fatigue may find themselves craving salty foods which could be the body’s way of regulating blood pressure. Make sure it is high quality sea salt.

Fatty fish and organ meats are high in zinc, Omegas and Vit D.

Avoid sugar and refined carbs (anything from refined white flour) which give you constant spikes and puts stress on your adrenals.

Heavily processed foods are usually high in refined carbs and added sugar, in addition to chemicals and other ingredients which cause inflammation. This adds further stress to the body with extra toxic load.

If you are depending on caffeine to get through your day it will over burden your adrenals to produce more cortisol which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

Adrenals, Stress, Burnout and Fertility

Life style

How we handle stress impacts our adrenals which is why it’s so important to work on lifestyle changes.  One great example to pay attention to is the fact that being a perfectionist leads to high [and perhaps unrealistic] expectations [on ourselves]. This pressure is a constant stress to the body. Review all aspects of your life.

The bottom line is – when you are stressed – you will produce cortisol at the expense of estrogen and progesterone and other sex hormones … and when you burn out you have even less ability to make these hormones.

Expert Contributor: Clinical Nutritionist, speaker and wellness expert – Desi Horsman

Distributed On behalf of Desi Horsman and to contact for further information:
SIMONSAYS Communications
Melanie Stevens
083 303 9667 / 011 465-9815

Have a look at this post on hormones and weight too.

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