In 2014, one of the commonest female sex problems was lack of desire. Indeed, in North America some drug companies have been claiming since 2006 that no less than 43 per cent of women have what they term 'female sexual arousal disorder' or 'FSAD'.
This article will focus on adrenal fatigue as a major cause of low sex drive in the context of chronic stress in women today. How does long term stress effect the body, and how does it affect our hormonal balance and therefore negatively influence sex drive? One may intuitively feel stress may have something to do with libido hassles, but let’s get a bit more of an understanding.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands located in the top region of each kidney.It creates your “get up and go” for the morning, which is the time of day when it is around its peak. When we are asleep, cortisol should be at its lowest level, and melatonin, our sleep hormone, should be at its highest level, in order for the body to properly restore itself.
Long term stress can cause high cortisol levels, which means that sleep patterns may become disrupted, affecting one’s sense of wellbeing and sex drive. Cortisol is required for nearly all dynamic processes in the body, from blood pressure regulation and kidney function, to blood sugar levels, fat and muscle building, protein synthesis and immunity. Cortisol also has a major influence on thyroid function -and subsequently on one’s energy levels and emotional wellbeing.
Cortisol, in the normal ranges, makes thyroid work more efficiently. However, when cortisol is too high over the long-term, the adrenal glands get tired. This is called adrenal exhaustion. In this scenario, thyroid is less efficient at doing its job of increasing energy for you and going about all its metabolic activities. Dr Virginia Hopkins (former colleague of the late Dr John Lee –pioneer in natural hormone therapy in women –see reference links below) teaches us that every cell in the body contains receptor sites for cortisol and thryroid hormone and just about every cellular process requires optimal thyroid function.
How does high cortisol affect libido?
When we stress for a long time, the adrenals pump too much cortisol into the bloodstream causing the tissues to become less and less responsive (more and more “deaf”) to thyroid hormone signal. Just as you may have heard about “insulin resistance”, one can get “thyroid resistance”. This means that although the thyroid levels are normal, the receptor sites “reading” or “hearing” the messages from thyroid hormone, become faulty.
It is interesting to note that the liver meridian, which passes throught the "chemical brain of the body", which plays a central role in hormonal balance, namely the liver, also goes through the genitals, thyroid gland , as well as the brain centres responsible for libido and sleep:
PATHWAY OF THE LIVER MERIDIAN -TRAVELLING THROUGH THE
GENITALS, THYROID GLAND, LIBIDO & SLEEP & HORMONAL CENTRES IN THE BRAIN
This resistance to thyroid hormone due to high cortisol IS NOT RESTRICTED TO THYROID HORMONE ALONE…It also applies to all the OTHER HORMONES like insulin, estrogen –AND PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT HERE FOR LOW LIBIDO ISSUES –PROGESTERONE AND TESTOSTERONE. Particular attention is on progesterone which is the precursor to making cortisol in the first place.
When we go through long term stress, the conversion of progesterone to cortisol means there is less progesterone to allow for a healthy libido level which in general, is from ovulation (in other words, around mid-cycle, usually shown by specific mucous secretions (at this time ideally the vaginal mucous increases and becomes egg-white-like). Anovulatory cycles, due to high cortisol and estrogen dominance, can interfere with sex drive accompanied by vaginal dryness.
One can’t effectively treat someone with hormonal imbalance symptoms like hot flushes or low libido etc, by simply adding what seems to be the missing hormone, be it thyroid, progesterone, estrogen or testosterone iF YOUR CORTISOL IS CHRONICALLY HIGH. You will still have overall resistance to your hormones. One should perhaps think about getting the right kind of natural treatment, such as reflexology or acupuncture, to help you lower your cortisol. Of course, if the cause of the long term stress goes away, this would help the overall picture too.
However, the good news is this: natural progesterone plays an important role in getting to the root of the problem in that it is the only natural hormone that actually competes with cortisol for certain receptor sites (glucocorticoid receptors). It can counter the stimulating effects of cortisol at night when you need to be sleeping in order for the body to start correcting its hormonal balance. See more about natural progesterone therapy cream under the resource title "Hormonal Health" in this website.
Other ways to complement this task and manage stress, is to go for regular light exercise, following a good diet of sound nutrition which includes cutting our stimulants such as caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Therapeutic modalities such as reflexology and acupressure/acupuncture -all forms of meridian therapy -are also well worth trying out, and integrating these into some form of a maintenance program over the long term if one’s stressors are not able to be completely eliminated.