Why is menopause so hard for some women?

by Dr. Luis Arrondo on September 20, 2011

Question

I’m going through menopause and feel like I’m falling apart. I get severe hot flashes, mood swings that border on psychosis, and my brain isn’t working. Why?

Answer

As the ovaries begin to wind down production of the sex hormones the adrenal glands, our stress organs, are supposed to take over that job. Unfortunately by the time most women reach menopause their adrenal glands are worn out and not up to the task of taking over the production of sex hormones.

Chronic stress taxes the hormones

In the face of stress our adrenal glands secrete adrenal hormones to help our bodies cope and adapt. However we were designed to call on this action only on an occasional basis. These days our adrenal glands are on constant red alert.

Factors that activate the adrenal glands include lack of sleep, being over scheduled, excess caffeine, inadequate nutrition from a poor diet, and too many sweets and starchy foods. Lesser known stressors include chronic inflammation, autoimmune disease, overgrowth of yeast and bacteria in the intestinal tract, leaky gut, and chronic viral or bacterial infections.

Hormones are vital for proper function of body and brain

As a woman nears menopause her ovaries begin to produce less of the reproductive hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, and to produce them erratically. Women still need these hormones, even after fertility, for proper function of the brain, thyroid, immune system, and other systems in the body.

Because so many women enter menopause with fatigued adrenals, their adrenal glands cannot handle sex hormone production. This disrupts the function of other systems in the body, causing the symptoms commonly seen today: hot flashes, memory loss, poor cognition, depression, and strong mood swings.

The best option is prevention

Natural medicine offers many solutions to help women transition through this period more safely and comfortably. However the best option is prevention. Ideally a woman will work to shore up her adrenal health, which is a whole-body diet and lifestyle approach, well before menopause.

Working preventively will help prevent or minimize the unpleasant symptoms associated with the transition into menopause.

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