Why Women Need Cortisol
Cortisol is a hormone created in the adrenal glands which regulates several functions in the body. It’s part of the immune system, and also helps regulate glucose in the blood, as well as blood pressure. Even parts of the digestive system are aided by cortisol. Its most common function is also where its nickname is derived; cortisol is sometimes called the stress hormone because your body increases production of it when you are under stress.
Having too much cortisol in your body can cause problems. This is most often caused from chronic stress. Your adrenal glands secretes more cortisol in response to stress, which gives you a burst of energy to deal with it through the fight or flight reflex. When the stress ends, cortisol levels will even out, but when stress is constantly high, your body never has that chance for it to even out, and the increased secretion remains.
Some symptoms of elevated cortisol are:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Memory haziness and other problems
The most serious problem that this chronic stress can have is actually overworking the adrenal glands, which will result in too much cortisol at first, leading into adrenal fatigue later on, which causes an insufficient amount of the hormone to be produced instead.
A cortisol deficiency can be cause by chronic stress, counter intuitively. Since cortisol is released to handle stress, if it is constantly ongoing, the adrenal glands will eventually tire out and not be able to produce enough of the hormone, even to just deal with regular daily life. A deficiency can be devastating, and is not always caused by stress, as some illnesses can directly affect the adrenal gland and harm production.
It is a very severe condition, including symptoms such as:
- Abrupt loss of weight
- Difficult recovering from illness
- Lowered blood pressure
- Aches and pains
- Sleepiness during the day, even after adequate rest
- Difficulty getting out of bed
- Feeling as if you have the flu while not actually being sick
Treating Cortisol Problems
Anything that can help you relieve or manage stress can help in preventing fluctuating cortisol levels. With higher levels that have not yet lead to adrenal fatigue, finding a good way to deal with stress is usually the best solution.
In the case of adrenal fatigue, though, bioidentical hormone therapy can be very useful in giving your adrenal glands the help they need to get your cortisol levels up and functioning to put an end to the pain and sluggishness that comes along with a deficiency.