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Is My Adrenal Health Affecting My Fertility?

Is My Adrenal Health Affecting My Fertility?

Did you know that your adrenal health is important for fertility? Supporting adrenal health is important for proper hormonal balance. Adrenal glands are part of the major endocrine glands. Our endocrine system is comprised of many glands that all serve important function for our bodies to maintain healthy homeostasis. The main function of the endocrine system is to serve as our body’s message center. Hormones deliver messages; the endocrine system coordinates hormones.

Video: Support Adrenal Health for Fertility

The adrenal glands sit atop our kidneys, like little caps. The adrenals release certain hormones in response to stress. Stress may arise from intense emotion, physical bodily injury or overexertion, or through environmental factors such as toxins. The adrenals are made up of two structures, the adrenal cortex is the outer layer, the medulla is the inner layer. For fertility, the cortex is the most important, it releases androgens. Androgens include DHEA (the precursor to estrogen), testosterone, androstenedione, testosterone being the most recognized of the androgens. Some of our progesterone is also produced by the adrenal glands as well. The adrenal glands also produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

Chronic Stress Affects our Fertility in Two Different Ways
A person that lives a balanced life has adrenal glands that are healthy and function at a normal level. Then over time, a person may find that their life situation is presented with a constant stressful state. At first, the adrenal glands are overworked; they are repeatedly stimulated by stressful situations, causing the constant release of adrenaline and cortisol. The presence of adrenalin, the hormone that is released by our bodies during stressful times, signals to our body that conditions are not ideal for conception. Adrenaline inhibits us from utilizing the hormone progesterone, which is essential for fertility. It also causes the pituitary gland to release higher levels of prolactin, which may contribute to infertility. Research tells us that stress boosts levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which inhibits the body’s main sex hormones GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) and subsequently suppresses ovulation, sexual activity, and sperm count.

As chronic stress continues long-term, the adrenals no longer can keep up. Hormones produced by the adrenals are not produced in abundance; the adrenals become sluggish. This may lead to hormonal imbalance. Not enough hormones are being produced or released. Other endocrine glands are not being signaled to release their hormones and the entire communication of the endocrine system becomes broken. Repeated intense stress response may cause adrenal fatigue.

The role the adrenal glands play in our reproductive health can be very confusing. The body has a complex network of communication to maintain proper function. The adrenals play an important role in this function, especially when it comes to energy, reaction to daily stress, and maintaining hormonal balance that keeps the body fertile. Supporting proper function of the adrenal glands is very important to managing stress on all levels, as well as maintaining hormonal balance for fertility.

Adrenal Fatigue Directly Affects the Thyroid
Our adrenal glands can handle acute stressful situations with no problem, but they cannot handle chronic stress. Chronic stress taxes our adrenals. When our adrenals have a lot of stress placed on them, it puts our body into a state of catabolism. Catabolism is the break-down of our bodies; destructive metabolism. Over time the body will slow down the thyroid as a protective measure. To maintain both thyroid and adrenal health, we must consider the health of our stress management skills each day. The thyroid function is reliant on the adrenals. Each of our endocrine glands play a key role in the health of the others. Adrenal fatigue may lead to not only thyroid issues, but a compromised immune system as well.

Signs Your Adrenals May Need Support
-Low Libido
-Premature menopause, POF
-Poor egg health
-Sleep difficulty
-Worsening of PMS symptoms
-Foggy thinking
-Anxiety or panic attacks
-Weight gain, cravings for carbs, salt, sugary foods in the evening
-Caffeine dependence
-Intolerance to cold
-Hair loss
-High blood pressure (associated with overly exerted adrenal function)
-Low blood pressure (associated with underactive adrenal function)
-Lethargy, low energy, with feelings of being wired at the same time
-Irritability, short temper
-Frequent illness, longer recovery time from illness or injury

Ways to Support Proper Adrenal Function


  • Eat a whole food nutrient-dense diet. If we do not get enough of the vital nutrients and minerals needed for optimum health through our foods, then when the body is faced with stress, it may not be able to handle the stress as well as someone who is well-nourished. Well-nourished people that consume a whole food, nutrient-dense diet, have a lesser chance of stress impacting their health negatively.
  • Exercise regularly, but start off slowly and with a good plan! Studies show that exercise keeps stress and depression at bay. Extreme exercise is not a good idea if you have adrenal fatigue, and may actually tax the adrenals more. Begin with walking or yoga. Go for a daily brisk walk outdoors! Yoga is restorative to the body.
  • Consider specific nutritional supplementation for adrenal support. We like the nutritional supplement Adrenal Strength because this 100% whole food nutritional supplement contains specific nutrients and herbs that have been shown to not only support adrenal health, but stress response as well.
  • Maca is wonderful for mind/body stress support; it is nourishing to the entire endocrine system. Maca supports healthy hormonal balance through nourishing support of the entire endocrine system. Maca may be protective to adrenal health as long-term nutritional support.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Nicotine stimulates the adrenals to release adrenaline. The release of adrenaline signals release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Repeated exposure to nicotine creates a tolerance. Over time, the body needs more nicotine to create the same high. This may create adrenal fatigue, as the adrenals are stimulated repeatedly to maintain the “high” from nicotine. Caffeine consumed regularly is also overstimulating to the adrenals, though not nearly as extreme as nicotine. Over time, repeated consumption of caffeine can be hard on the adrenals function. Alcohol depresses the adrenal glands and slows the release of hormones these glands produce. These may directly impair egg health and libido.

Make a stress reduction plan and stick to it!

  • Meditation has been shown to aid people in training themselves to completely relax and return the body systems to homeostasis.
  • Fertility Yoga uses key yoga poses that help to nurture, support, and strengthen the endocrine and the reproductive system. Your endocrine system is essential for proper hormonal balance, so using fertility yoga poses that promote healthy endocrine function is just as important as using poses that support the reproductive system as well. Yoga is one of the best overall exercises and stress reduction techniques for both men and women!
  • Pay attention to your breath pattern. Stop right now and notice how you are breathing. Do this periodically throughout each day. When you feel stressful situations coming on, through negative thought patterns, going over finances or even going to the grocery store, just stop, slow your breathing down consciously.
  • Replace known stressful situations with something you deeply enjoy. You often know beforehand if a situation is going to be stressful or not. If you know that a situation is going to be stressful, consider how you can change it. Can you avoid it altogether? Can you do something you truly enjoy instead? How can you change your thoughts about the situation to make it go more smoothly and with ease, rather than anxiety? How will you breathe through this situation? Will you be calm and centered? While we cannot always change the situation, we can change how we react to it. Make a conscious decision to work to change how you react to stressful situations.
  • Sleep! A good 8 hours a night of restful sleep is restorative for the adrenal glands. Be sure you create a dark, quiet, comfortable environment for sleeping. Avoid sugar, caffeine, and alcohol prior to going to bed for the night. Avoid the computer and TV prior to sleeping; these may affect sleep patterns. Consider a natural homeopathic sleep aid or calming herbal tea before bed if you know you have difficulty sleeping. If you feel tired in the middle of the day and have time to get a nap in, do it! Listening to needs of your body is healthy; ignoring its needs may have detrimental health impact!

In order to support hormonal balance, we must first consider the role each of our endocrine glands play. The adrenal glands support proper stress response. Without proper function of the adrenals, we cannot have healthy fertility, because the adrenals play a key role in hormonal balance. We must first support proper function of the adrenals through not only a nourishing diet and exercise plan, but through daily stress management skills. We cannot heal our fertility issues without considering the state of our stress management skills. If you are a person with high stress, you must make a plan to support proper adrenal function. Ask your doctor for help if you need it. It is healthy to reach out for help. We live in a time where stress levels are out of control. We all deserve to be healthy and happy, but we are the makers of our own happiness. Take some time today to check in with your body and mind. How are you feeling? What areas of your body need to be nourished and paid attention to? Listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs!


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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  1. Avatar

    Hi, this article helped me a lot to understand! I am quite sure that my imbalanced hormones issue was caused by a very very stressful period and my adrenals are suffering. Considering that I also knew to have a low ovarian reserve, I guess that stress even went higher. How long does it take to recover the adrenal glands? Would you suggest to start a IVF cycle during or after healing the adrenals?

  2. Avatar

    Hi! Thank you as always for another insightful article. I am curious if there are any herbs or teas that I should avoid while taking Adrenal Strength? I currently take Evening Primrose Oil capsules from day 1 until ovulation and also drink a number of various herbal teas ranging from Red Raspberry Leaf to a sleep aid with Valerian root (occasionally) by Traditional Medicinals.


  3. Avatar

    did you mean “people who eat a nutrient dense whole food nutrient dense diet have a LESSER chance of stress affecting their health in a negative way”? I’m confused

  4. Avatar

    I have in the last 2 and a half years, experienced 3 clinical m/c. A year ago I had a low cortisol and a low acth. My doctor didnt think this was anything to be concerned with because all my other tests were normal. I recently started taking adrenal support because it was recommended by an herbalist. My question is, I know adrenal fatigue can cause infertility but can it cause recurrent miscarriage as well? Thanks

    • Dear Danita,

      Stressed adrenal glands have the potential to reduce progesterone production and progesterone levels that are too low in the luteal phase and early pregnancy may lead to miscarriage. The liklihood of experiencing miscarriage when experiencing adrenal fatigue is unknown however.

      I hope you are liking the supplement!

  5. Avatar

    I have symptoms and test results to support both low thyroid and adrenal fatigue. I have begun a supplement regimen as well as stress reduction and exercise plan. Should I also be supplementing with natural progesterone if I am having POF?

  6. Avatar

    Hi Elizabeth, thank you for your reply to my query back in December. I had the testing and it turned out that I was suffering from Adrenal Fatigue, with low cortisol and low DHEA levels. I took the Adrenal Strength supplement and found it to be excellent. Yesterday I discovered that I am pregnant! I have stopped the Adrenal Strength and some other supplement from today, following the guidelines on this website about what is safe in pregnancy. I wondered if you have any suggestions about what I could take now to continue supporting my adrenals now that I am pregnant. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your help!

  7. Avatar

    I am actively trying to conceive, but believe I have adrenal fatigue. I am about to be tested with the salivary test for it in a few days time, but am sure that is my problem. I have read one of the comments here about Ashwagandha not being safe in pregnancy. Is it safe to take the Adrenal Support supplement until I confirm pregnancy and then stop? If not, can you recommend something else to take at this stage? Thank you for your help and for this wonderful website.

    • Dear Sylvia,

      You read correctly, Ashwaghanda is not recommended for use in pregnancy, therefore Adrenal Strength should not be used into pregnancy. Both can be used in preparation for conception.

      Most fertility herbs and supplements, including Ashwagandha and Adrenal Strength, should be discontinued once you find out you are pregnant, that means once you take a pregnancy test and get a positive. If you choose to actively try to conceive and are concerned about taking either, they can be stopped at ovulation and then begun again if pregnancy is not confirmed.

      I hope testing offers you some insight! Take care!

  8. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  9. Avatar

    Isn’t ashwaghanda root known for causing miscarriages in pregnancy? Is there an adrenal support supplement that can be taken during pregnancy? My pregnancies are always highstress and I get SO fatigued!Please Help!

    • Hi Candy,

      Ashwaghanda is not recommended for pregnancy, therefore Adrenal Strength should not be used into pregnancy. I have never experienced ashwaghanda causing miscarriage, though high doses may cause respiratory depression. It would be best to support your body through meditation or stress reduction techniques like EFT rather than rely on herbs to support you through this stressful time. The best way to support your body through stressful times in pregnancy are to be sure you are taking a good whole food prenatal vitamin, eating a nutrient dense whole food diet, exercise and stress reduction techniques; prenatal yoga, meditation/guided meditation, EFT, counseling, ect. If you wish to use herbs into pregnancy it would be best to find an herbalist in your area to work with or a midwife skilled in the use of herbs.

      Best Wishes,


  10. Avatar

    hello i just want to know my husband is diabetic (type 2) and the dr said he cant produce anymore sperm and my eggs are not healthy do you think if we try your products and what specific meds we are going to take is it possible am I gonna be pregnant? thank you

    • Hi michele,

      Type II diabetes, or an inability of the body to produce enough insulin to keep up with glucose levels in the bloodstream, is the most common type of diabetes now experienced in the U.S., and can often be controlled with dietary changes and an increase in exercise. (Do a search for Dr. Gabriel Cousins who has actually cured diabetes through diet changes)…..a diabetic man who does not control his glucose levels has less of a chance of impregnating his partner and when he does the risk of miscarriage and deformities are much higher…The key to success, of course, is working with your endocrinologist and obstetrician to ensure that your glucose levels remain stable moths before trying to conceive as well as during a pregnancy. With a good plan and dedication to eating right and staying healthy, your chances of giving birth are very high, despite a diabetes diagnosis. You can continue reading this article here:

      Best Wishes,


  11. Avatar

    Great article! I know I have adrenal fatigue and its so hard to control. The cravings aren’t bad but I notice the chocolate cravings increase around my ovulation days. My caffeine addiction seems impossible to break. I’ve tried and failed so many times.

    Will this adrenal support supplement you have interact negatively with Vitex or any other supplements/herbs? What about blood pressure….I’m trying to avoid all supplements that may increase my blood pressure….

    Thank you Hethir and Dalene for all your help and information!

    • Hi Pamela,

      If you are taking Metformin, the American ginseng in the Adrenal Strength may interact with that. It should not raise blood pressure, but everyone is different, so it is best to see how you feel while using it. Quitting the caffeine is going to help the most!

      Thanks for reading and for your questions!