Hormone Imbalance? Your Adrenal Glands May Be the Cause

Your ovaries, adrenal glands and thyroid depend on one another to function properly. I like to think of the ovarian adrenal thyroid axis (OAT) as a 3 legged stool. For that stool to remain sturdy, and well…functional, you need all three legs supporting it. If one of those legs (systems) starts to falter, the whole system can eventually topple.

If you have been experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance— fatigue, acne, PMS, anxiety or depression then you’d likely benefit from supporting all 3 legs of that stool. In my practice, I find that starting with the adrenals glands often proves to be most beneficial and foundational to supporting hormonal health.

Why is that?

Your adrenal glands, the two little glands that sit on top of your kidneys, produce a hormone called cortisol in response to stress, among other things. When your body perceives there is a great deal of stress it pushes into higher cortisol production while also downregulating the mechanisms that lead to reproduction. Ever wonder why stress shuts down the libido?

Now I know this sounds really bad, but this is actually what your body should be doing. If you are in a stressful environment then your body is receiving a signal that now is not the best time to become pregnant. The answer? Shunt your progesterone to cortisol production.

Low Progesterone Symptoms:

Breast tenderness
Easy to cry
Heavy or short menstrual cycles

When your body is preferentially making cortisol, your progesterone levels dip and estrogen is left unchallenged. The result is a state of estrogen dominance.

Estrogen Dominance Symptoms:

Fibrocystic breasts
Hair loss
Heavy or irregular menses
Uterine fibroids
Hot flashes
Weight gain

5 Steps to Balancing Your Adrenals

Get Tested.

I recommend my patients have salivary hormone testing for cortisol, 17-hydroxyprogesterone and DHEA. This helps tailor treatment to fit the your needs and ensure you are addressing the correct imbalances. I use an Adrenal Stress Index test with my patients.

Feed Your Adrenals.

Vitamin C, B Vitamins and magnesium are often necessary to restore adrenal health and function. I recommend my patients take 150-500 mg of magnesium at night, a quality B complex and at least 1,000 mg of Vitamin C daily.

Use Adaptogenic Herbs.

Rhodiola, Eleutherococcus, Holy Basil, Ashwagandha and other adaptogenic herbs can help your adrenal glands rebalance themselves. Download your free guide to balancing your hormones.


I can’t stress this one enough. If you are not sleeping, you stand no chance at balancing your hormones. Your body relies on sleep to repair from the day. Skipping sleep causes confusion for your body and takes a major toll on hormones.


Find time in your schedule to relax. Take a deep breath and fill your heart and mind with all the reasons you have to be grateful. Taking time to relax signals your body to do the same.

Adrenal gland hormones they all are connected. Think of your adrenals as the foundation of your hormones. When you have a strong foundation, it is easier to support the others.

Be sure to check back in as we will be discussing the role of the thyroid in optimizing your sex hormones.

And don't forget to download your guide to the top 10 supplements I recommend for balancing your hormones. 

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About The Author


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Dr. Jolene Brighten is a Functional Medicine Naturopathic Medical Doctor and the founder of Rubus Health, a women’s medicine clinic that specializes in women's hormones. She is recognized as a leading expert in Post-Birth Control Syndrome and the long-term side effects associated with hormonal contraceptives. Dr. Brighten is the best selling author, speaker and regular contributor to several online publications including MindBodyGreen. She is a medical advisor for one of the first data-driven apps to offer women personalized birth control recommendations.Read more about me.