Energizing Articles To Digest

Understand Your Hormones to Banish Fatigue

brain fog burnout fatigue hormones inflammation Nov 09, 2022
Hormonal Fatigue for Women

Yes, your hormones are to blame.  Hormonal fatigue is a very real thing and most women know that their hormones influence almost every facet of their health.


Hormones are to blame for PMS, mood swings, anxiety, exhaustion, weight gain, sugar cravings and sleep issues.  And hormonal fatigue is something that most women with burnout, chronic fatigue or brain fog experience every single day.


But, what hormones are behind your hormonal fatigue anyway?


And where do you start your journey to fix them?


The Long Road to Balanced Energy Hormones


Ask any woman and she’ll probably tell you that she’s “worked on” rebalancing her hormones in the name of higher energy.


Maybe you have too?



I bet you’ve told your doctor about your exhaustion or brain fog and had your thyroid hormones tested, often repeatedly.  


And, perhaps you’ve been told all is “normal” (despite still feeling exhausted).


Or, you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism or another form of low thyroid disease, put on some medical treatment, and sent on your way.


If you’re reading this, you’re probably still exhausted and foggy, though…right?


This is, unfortunately, so common in women battling hormonal fatigue!


Because conventional and functional medicine tend to overlook the intricate spider web of relationships between hormones and exhaustion, 


And only focus on thyroid!


Hormonal Fatigue Explained


Why are you living with hormonal fatigue?


Well, obviously you have some kind of hormonal imbalance, right?


That’s a given!


But, energy is way more complicated than strictly how well your thyroid hormones are functioning.  Or how efficient your metabolism is.


Yes, you’re aware that stress impacts energy too, but this too often leads to a very oversimplified treatment of “well, just manage your stress better - take more time off and rest more”.


Or pop a few adaptogens - it’s okay, they’re safe! (not necessarily…)


As an ambitious, goal-driven woman, that advice can feel very, very stressful!  Who has time to rest more?  Or NOT complete all her important to-dos?  


(I totally understand…this is exactly how I feel when someone tells me to “relax” when I’m overwhelmed and trying to hit a big deadline while ensuring everyone is fed well and loved.)


The truth is, hormonal fatigue is caused by a collection of hormonal imbalances.


Let’s start with the Master of Energy - Cortisol


Cortisol - Your Master Energy Hormone


Yes, cortisol is your true energy hormone.


Cortisol is always the hormone you want to evaluate and love on if you’re exhausted, burnt out or dealing with brain fog.


Cortisol controls how well food energy - carbs, fats, and protein - is metabolized.  


It’s this main stress hormone that influences how well your thyroid hormone system is functioning.  



Stress will always take precedence over all other energy hormones because it’s a matter of survival.


In fact, the same brain mechanism that controls thyroid hormone production is also used to produce stress hormones - the hypothalamus and pituitary.  So if those two little glands are busy dealing with stress, they’re not going to bother producing thyroid hormones.  


Cortisol also plays a role in your body’s ability to produce energy within the mitochondria.  If you’re highly stressed, cortisol converts stored glucose (aka glycogen) into usable glucose from the liver and muscles.


Need a lot of cortisol?  Eventually cortisol catabolizes your muscle cells, leading to a drastic loss of energy producing mitochondria.  


And the other little factor in high cortisol levels? Inflammation.  Inflammation sends a signal to each cell to protect themselves from pathogens, toxics and foreign particles.  


That same defense mechanism also prevents energy hormones and nutrients from getting inside the cells.  Thus, mitochondria are literally “starved” of what they need to make energy for you.


Where Thyroid Comes In


Thyroid hormones are the main regulator of energy metabolism.  Energy metabolism is how efficiently  your cells take in and use carbs, fats and protein for energy production.


Energy production happens within the mitochondria.  Hence, thyroid hormones aren’t the direct regulator of energy, only in how well the mitochondria are fed and function.


Your thyroid hormones influence body weight, oxygen usage, body temperature and respiration rate.  And they can help switch between glucose as fuel or fat as fuel at the mitochondrial level.



When glucose is used as the main fuel source for ATP production (that’s your energy currency), less energy is made.  However, flip the switch to healthy fat-fueled mitochondria, and you can enjoy up to 31 times more energy production.


Hormonal fatigue related to low thyroid function is typically caused by high cortisol, high estrogen, inflammation or poor liver health.


Estrogen in Energy Regulation


You have a lovely internal gauge for energy efficiency - your estrogen levels in conjunction with your menstrual cycle.


When you experience a healthy, balanced, natural monthly cycle, you should notice 3-5 days of high energy around ovulation, followed by 3-5 days of lower energy around menstruation.


Low energy, not exhaustion.


Any deviation from this natural energy cycle indicates a hormonal imbalance with estrogen and should be evaluated and reversed.


The thing about estrogen is that if it’s too high or too low, you can experience hormonal fatigue.


High estrogen is caused by stress, poor liver health, constipation, and toxins taken in from dairy foods and xenoestrogens.  Xenoestrogens mimic natural estrogen and take over cell receptors.  They come in the forms of air pollutants, chemicals in personal care products, BPA in cans, and other toxins in our environments.


Another important point - high levels of estrogen produce high numbers of thyroid binding proteins.  These proteins carry thyroid hormones throughout the body via the blood.  When too high, these proteins won’t release thyroid hormones as needed and you experience low thyroid symptoms.



Progesterone’s Role in Hormonal Fatigue


Progesterone itself doesn’t influence energy metabolism or energy production.


Where progesterone shines is in its ability to keep your mind calm and at peace, preventing stress-inducing thoughts and beliefs from arising.  


And healthy progesterone levels keep you well rested by enabling healthy, good quality sleep.


One main reason for insomnia in women approaching menopause and beyond is low progesterone levels.


Of course, poor sleep and a worrying mind will increase cortisol, leading to more hormonal fatigue. 


Insulin Resistance and Your Energy


Glucose is the main energy source for all cells.  


It’s the easiest source to metabolize, too, using up minimal resources and energy.


However, a diet high in carbs along with high levels of stress can lead to insulin resistance, a condition in which your cells resist insulin’s effects at permitting insulin from doing its job.


Insulin triggers your cells to “open up” and allow glucose inside to be used as energy.


If the cells won’t open up to insulin and allow the nutrients it permits inside, your mitochondria can’t use glucose as energy.  Since your brain cells only use glucose as energy, this can lead to brain fog.


Inflammation arises, fatigue gets worse, and your body and mind start manifesting a host of frustrating symptoms, from cravings, mood swings, weight gain, and poor stress response.  


Finally, Testosterone


Testosterone gets overlooked a lot in hormonal fatigue.  But it’s a very important hormone to consider.


Low testosterone reduces red blood cell count, a factor in poor iron availability and energy.  


Low testosterone is mainly caused by stress, but also pops up in women who have used hormonal BCP in the past.


How to Fix Hormonal Fatigue


First and foremost, you have to know your root cause of hormonal fatigue.


Typically this root cause is an imbalance of stress hormones and a problem with how well the body responds to stress.  


Begin by refueling your stress response with healthy omega-3 rich fats like raw nuts and seeds, olive oil and wild-caught salmon.  Always include fresh fruits and vegetables in your meals, too.  And, make sure you’re getting lots of protein.


Lifestyle factors like exercise, sleep and self-care are important for stress management but need to be incorporated in an aligned fashion.


For example, if you’re stressed, don’t over-exercise.  A simple 30-minute walk (broken up into 10 minute increments if needed) is sufficient.  Ten minutes of deep belly breathing or meditation is enough to trigger a healthier stress response.  And set up a sleep schedule and stick with it, aiming for 8-9 hours of sleep every night.


Mindset shifts are always required in women struggling with hormonal fatigue.  And, this is the toughest aspect of energy healing to implement.


Start simple.


Find a few affirmations that support your energy goals.  “I am an energized woman” is one way to begin.  


Journal any emotions that arise that trigger your stress response.  Common feelings include anger, resentment, or feelings of neglect.


If you notice that you’re worrying about something excessively, ask yourself “what is the worst that could happen?” and go into all the gory details.  You’ll probably find that you feel a little ridiculous about the worry after a bit (and that’s the point).


Of course, as hormonal fatigue is a holistic healing journey, it’s important to evaluate and repair any damage to digestion, detoxification and elimination too.


Support & Help for Your Journey


Asking for help can feel vulnerable to women who are exhausted yet driven to succeed in their hormonal fatigue recovery journey.


However, the fastest way to get back to living your best life is to get clarity on what you need to do to fix your fatigue.  And to end the confusion so that you will always know how to feel your best.


If you’re interested in diving further into your personal hormonal fatigue and energy recovery journey and getting clarity & direction, book an Energy Deep Dive Discovery session today. 


Hormonal Imbalances in her 30s, 40s and 50s aren't just related to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone!

If you're eager to tame your wild & crazy hormonal rollercoaster, then you want a holistic hormonal healing strategy that's simple, straightforward, and successful.

To get started, grab a free copy of my 5 Factors to Increase Energy, a guide that'll walk you through the deepest healing strategies my clients follow to beat perimenopause and reclaim high energy, laser-sharp focus, sensual libido, a mood that's more joy & happiness than anything else, and a capacity to handle challenges and stress with grace and calm.

Tell me how to fix my dang hormones!