The adrenal glands are two triangular organs measuring about three inches long that sit on top of your kidneys. These glands are best known for secreting adrenaline, the hormone responsible for the fight-or-flight response. However, the adrenal glands also produce many other hormones including cortisol, aldosterone, norepinephrine, corticosterone and DHEA.
The adrenal glands are crucial for regulating physiological processes including metabolism, blood pressure, immune function and more. Although these small organs are crucially important to our survival, the stressful lifestyles of the 21st century can wreak havoc on your body and impair adrenal gland function. When the adrenal glands aren’t working as well as they should, it can cause symptoms ranging from lack of energy and low libido to irritability and poor digestion.
Cortisol and the Stress Response
Cortisol is one of the most important hormones that is released when the body or mind experiences stress. Small amounts of cortisol are important for body functions including glucose metabolism, insulin release, inflammatory response, blood pressure regulation and immune function. A small burst of cortisol will give you increased immunity, better memory, heightened energy and lower pain sensitivity. As you can see, cortisol is a useful hormone.
However, when you experience chronic stress, cortisol will cause negative effects including lowered thyroid function, blood sugar imbalance, high blood pressure, decreased bone density, impaired immunity and mental fog or confusion. Chronic stress can even cause an increase in abdominal fat due to cortisol. Higher amounts of stomach fat are associated with an increased risk of heart attack, metabolic syndrome, stroke and other health problems.
The Relationship Between Adrenal Fatigue and Libido
Adrenal fatigue is a condition that takes place when chronic stress essentially wears out the adrenal glands. The adrenals have to keep producing more and more cortisol to keep up with the body’s demands, and eventually the glands are unable to keep up. When this happens, a person may experience symptoms including sleep disorders, soreness, bloating, fatigue, poor mood, confusion, undereye circles, digestive problems and low sex drive. Adrenal fatigue may affect millions of people around the world, but current medical science has yet to recognize that adrenal fatigue is a distinct syndrome, as more research is needed.
Aside from the aspect of cortisol, another reason why adrenal fatigue and libido are related is because the adrenal glands produce DHEA, which is a precursor for the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. When the adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly, sex hormone levels fall, decreasing sex drive.
Many of the symptoms caused by adrenal fatigue can also be caused by other medical conditions such as anemia, diabetes, depression, thyroid problems, immune problems and arthritis. It may also be caused by poor lifestyle habits, such as not getting enough sleep, eating a poor diet, or being sedentary.
Nevertheless, when an individual suffers from adrenal fatigue he or she may find that their love life suffers as well. Lowered libido can cause strain on a relationship as well as decrease general life satisfaction. Adrenal fatigue and libido may be linked, but this does not mean that you have to live with either condition. In fact, there are many steps you can take to heal from adrenal fatigue and get your sex drive back.
How to Relieve Stress and Adrenal Fatigue
The real reason why adrenal fatigue and libido are related is because of stress. Chronic stress may occur because of an unpleasant job, pressures of parenting, a strained romantic relationship, chronic health problems and many other reasons. Wherever possible, cut out unnecessary sources of stress from your life. What stress is unavoidable should be dealt with in a healthy manner. Avoid relieving stress through emotional eating, alcohol, or drugs. Instead, try meditation, yoga or another exercise, aromatherapy, writing in your journal, counseling, or talking to a friend.
When you are already suffering from adrenal fatigue, you need to make a lifestyle change in order to feel well again. Get plenty of sleep every single night, increase your dietary intake of B-vitamins, take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and stay well-hydrated. With enough time, these lifestyle changes will help you to recover from adrenal fatigue.