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You’ve gone through menopause, so why are your hormonal symptoms back?

By Dr. Sharon Stills, NMD

Long after menopause has come and gone, women often find that hormone-related symptoms — from fatigue to brain fog to weight gain — make an unwelcome reappearance. Sex hormone production downshifts after menopause, so what’s driving these “breakthrough” hormonal symptoms?

You’ve gone through menopause, so why are your hormonal symptoms back

When my patients come to me with this question, here’s the visual I use to help them understand what’s going on…

Imagine you live in a city. When it’s nighttime, you see streetlights and lights shining from buildings, but you don’t really see too many stars in the sky.

Now, imagine you leave the city and move to the desert. There are no lit up buildings around you, no streetlights. It’s just the dark desert. Look up and get ready to gasp as millions upon millions of stars blaze brightly overhead. Where did all these stars come from? Well, they were there all along! You just couldn’t see them because the city lights obscured your view.

During perimenopause and menopause, imbalances in estrogen and other sex hormones can be so dominant they’re like bright city streetlights that drown out your ability to notice problems and symptoms related to your other hormones. Once menopause is over and sex hormone symptoms fade into the background, these other underlying hormonal imbalances are unmasked and can blaze brightly, finally catching your attention.

Hormonal symptoms that most commonly flare up after menopause are often related to imbalances in the adrenal glands and thyroid hormones — either one or the other, or both. Low thyroid and adrenal hormone imbalances may have been churning away in the background for years, but only now have become visible.

Why do so many women develop low thyroid and adrenal imbalances?

My patients are often surprised to find out that thyroid and adrenal issues may have been developing right alongside perimenopause and menopause. However, when I tell them the likely trigger for these underlying hormonal imbalances, it suddenly makes a lot of sense.

The root cause of adrenal and thyroid issues? It’s our old friend chronic stress.

Stress can “tip the scale” toward hypothyroidism

Your thyroid plays a key role in helping you metabolize food, store and use energy, manage your weight and temperature control, and think, talk, and sleep.

In many ways, stress is like kryptonite to healthy thyroid function. When women are chronically stressed, overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol in the adrenal glands can suppress pituitary function and keep thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) from being released. When left unchecked, this can develop into low thyroid.

Symptoms of low thyroid include low energy, depression, fuzzy thinking, worsening memory, hair loss, and easier weight gain. Because many so many of these symptoms of hypothyroidism overlap with menopausal symptoms, it’s often difficult to tease them apart. You may have experienced both menopause and thyroid symptoms for years, but didn’t realize it until your menopause symptoms faded. Further complicating matters is the fact that low thyroid function can also exacerbate menopause symptoms.

High cortisol levels push adrenals into state of imbalance

When chronic stress leads to unnaturally high cortisol levels, the constant requirement for the adrenals to be on “high alert” producing more and more cortisol can eventually lead to a state of adrenal fatigue and a cascade of adrenal-related symptoms, including extreme tiredness, trouble sleeping, mid-section weight gain (aka belly fat), weakened immunity, and low sex drive.

Again, these symptoms of adrenal hormone imbalance often overlap or mimic symptoms of sex hormone imbalance and low thyroid, making it difficult for women to understand the root cause of their symptoms. And guess what? Feeling so bad and not really understanding why just drives more chronic stress — which then just worsens all these symptoms. It’s like a never-ending loop.

Post-menopause is a golden opportunity to finally fix your hormones


Hormonal symptoms are disruptive, but with menopause symptoms mainly out of the way, you can now become laser-focused on righting the ship on thyroid and adrenal issues. Here are three tips to take on these imbalances and find symptom relief:

Get to the root of what’s going on. A good first step towards understanding whether it’s your adrenals or thyroid — or both — driving symptoms is to take our free Hormonal imbalance quiz. You can also determine if there could be some sex hormone issues still lingering. It’s a great tool and easy to use.

Give your hormonal systems natural support to rebalance and regain proper function. Natural supplementation can be highly effective for both adrenal and thyroid issues. Our T-Balance Plus thyroid support formula is designed to nourish an underachieve thyroid, protecting it from stress and helping it to restore normal TSH production. Our stress supplement Adaptisol is formulated with powerful adaptogenic herbs that soothe the hardworking adrenal glands and support balanced cortisol production, helping to relieve stress-related symptoms.

Up your stress reduction game. These are stressful times we’re living through, so it’s a really good idea for your health and your hormones to find more ways to build stress-relieving practices into your day. One simple way to start is deep breathing for a few minutes every day. Deep breathing stimulates your vagus nerve, which triggers your body’s relaxation response. Here’s an easy guided technique for deep “belly” breathing.

You know when I love to practice deep breathing? It’s when I am at my home in Arizona, close to the desert. I breathe deep and look up at the endless stars and think.  Seeing our lives clearly can make all the difference.

Can’t sleep? Read: 3 steps to better sleep when you’re stressed

Last Updated: July 12, 2022
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