For the last few blogs I have talked about stress and the affect it has on your libido. Today I would like to reiterate that everyone has stress. Remember that the effect on the body of stress is directly related to how you perceive your stress. If the brain gets a message that you are in danger, it will appropriately send the correct cocktail of hormones down to the rest of the endocrine system to activate the fight or flight response. A prolonged fight or flight response message will eventually create problems in the body. However, there are some things you can work on starting today that will help you recover from this abnormal irritability, weight gain, PMS, sleeplessness, brain fog, joint pain, diminished immune system, and food cravings you might be suffering from.
I wrote about ways to speed your recovery by working on the variables in your life that you can have control over for the last two blogs. This week I will discuss how to test for adrenal dysfunction and the different categories of adrenal fatigue.
Testing Your Stress Level by Measuring Cortisol
Because cortisol levels are a good measure of the health of the stress response in most individuals, measuring cortisol levels is a common tool to assess what level and type of stress you are experiencing. When cortisol levels are very low, it is a sign of adrenal exhaustion or burnout. When cortisol levels are very high it may mean there is an uncontrolled acute stressor present (chronic inflammation) or that the feedback loops that should be lowering cortisol are not functioning properly.
Cortisol can be measured from blood, urine, or saliva. However, saliva is the most accurate as it can be measured four times throughout a normal day; once upon rising, once in mid to late morning, once in the afternoon and once before bedtime. Additional hormones can also be measured at this time such as DHEA, melatonin, testosterone, progesterone, and estrogens. The levels of these additional hormones can help identify certain related conditions that can better define the treatment approach.
Three general categories of adrenal stress are typically defined as:
- Acute adrenal dysfunction: sometimes this phase is called the “alarm reaction. Patients with acute adrenal stress will feel and act “wired” but feel tired. This will eventually suppress important immune functions and can often result in increased risk of illness.
- Adrenal fatigue: this condition can be the result of adjustments to an ongoing acute adrenal dysfunction condition or the accumulation of years of mild stress without adequate relaxation and recuperation. These individuals may have cortisol levels within the normal ranges, but either lack proper circadian rhythm or have reduced levels of DHEA.
- Adrenal exhaustion: this is often called “burnout”. Patients with this condition typically have low or very low cortisol levels (Addison’s disease is the complete loss of cortisol production). People with adrenal exhaustion will be easily overwhelmed by any stress and find that even simple tasks become burdensome.
The Academy for Integrative Medicine’s Libido Cure program is tailored to achieve these very aims; don’t waste another moment…get started today.
Here’s to your libido!
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