The following is a transcript of an interview between Patrick Wanis, Human Behavior and Relationship Expert, PhD and Dr. Michael Bauerschmidt, Medical Director of Full Potential Health Care revealing the links between stress, hormones and staying young. Patrick Wanis and Dr. Mike also reveal the differences between stress hormones and sex hormones as well as cortisol and its role and danger. For previous part of this transcript (Part 3), click here: http://patrickwanis.com/blog/stress-years-no-period-progesterone/
Patrick: So to summarize what we’ve discussed so far, we’re saying that hormonal health is obviously critical to your overall health because the level and the quality of hormones determines the quality of your organs and thus, determines the quality and the function of your entire body.
You also talked about the fact that right now based on what science knows, our body can live, depending on the kind of stress we present it with, can live to about 120 years of age. As we get older, it’s harder for us to maintain the levels of hormones that we had in our 20s. The earlier we start, the healthier we can be and we can stay because we can maintain those levels as much as possible.
You also talked about the four main stressors, which you abbreviate to an acronym, DEEP – diet, emotions, environment and physical state. You gave us an example of a patient who experiences extraordinary pain leading up to her period and that that’s not natural – that’s an imbalance and usually that’s an imbalance of hormones that might be connected either to her diet, her emotions, her environment, or her physical state.
Now, let’s talk for a moment about the difference between the hormones that are stress hormones and the hormones that are sex hormones. You started talking about how pregnenolone can break down into progesterone and then 17-hydroxyprogesterone that then breaks off into the sex hormones or the adrenal corticosteroid hormones. Explain how that works briefly.
Dr. Mike: It’s really quite simple. Your body is kind of like the ultimate triage officer. It sends the things to where they’re needed the most.
If your body is under particular stress and you had a lot of stress hormones, that progesterone is going to be hanging on down and shooting right down that cortisol pathway and there’s going to be precious little left over for the sex hormone support.
Here’s the deal, when you’re dealing with the body, we can look to economics as a thing. One of the economic principles is all resources are scarce. That is, there isn’t an infinite supply of everything for anybody. We may experience individually plenty of food, water and air; but collectively, there really isn’t enough going around, otherwise there wouldn’t be any starvation in the world.
As this principle works in the human body is that if your body is under constant stress and you need a lot of the stress hormones, it’s going to start shutting down other organ systems that are not immediately involved with your survival. So the hormones tend to take a big whack when you’re under stress, particularly your thyroid will begin to down regulate as you demand more out of your adrenals for adrenal support.
Your ovaries may start to shut down because your neurochemistry in your brain or your neurotransmitters are now all in fight-or-flight mode and there isn’t the normal levels of your feel good hormones, like serotonin, dopamine and prolactin, which your body needs in order to keep your hormones balanced. This is why women under stress, whether it’s physical or emotional stress, will start having irregular periods or quit having periods altogether.