What’s your C-Spot?

Serene Woman with Closed Eyes, Wrapped in a Shawl, Smiling on a Beach.

No, not that C-Spot. The other [just as important] C-Spot - the cortisol curve that’s suited just for you and your life. 

What’s cortisol you ask? Sit back, kick your heels up and let’s chat. 

In popular media cortisol is either ignored or gets serious flack for being a bad stress hormone. In truth, cortisol is your executive assistant. It performs so many actions in the body that it is hard to summarize in one paragraph. Let’s try though. Cortisol is responsible for regulating:

waking, sleeping, hunger, blood sugar, immune function, bone health, and stress management. 

Cortisol is a powerhouse of a hormone. It’s made from progesterone in your adrenal glands. The adrenals are little yellow hats that sit on top of each of your kidneys in the back of your abdomen. The adrenals are the warehouse of many hormones, managing blood pressure, energy, sex drive, and more. 

With all that on its shoulders, you may see that it’s entirely unfair to give cortisol a bad rap. Ladies, cortisol is as misunderstood as you may feel. You can’t just take a snapshot of you laughing or crying and claim that represents your whole day. 

We are big fans of knowledge as power. A little bit of information can feel overwhelming, but if you can understand that information in relation to yourself, you can feel much more prepared to take action. 

Let’s be very clear - Learning information about cortisol and your body is not about disease. We are talking gathering your own biological data about the nuances of living life in a society that misunderstands, dismisses and gaslights many women’s stress symptoms; The feelings that we all talk about colloquially, but are hard to nail down; The moments we call ourselves  “Wired and Tired”, or “So tired, but can’t sleep”, and others we are too familiar with. 

Cortisol has been used for decades in human psychobiological studies as a measure of stress, anxiety, and depression.

There is a standard curve throughout the day in which your cortisol should rise and fall aligned with your daily schedule. When that curve starts to go awry, hello sleeplessness, hello anxious afternoons, hello coffee and cravings.

How am I supposed to know what my cortisol curve is doing? 

Well friend, that’s what we are here for. Cortisol can be measured in your blood but, for several reasons, this is a mode that is reserved for diagnosing a disease in the adrenals. By the time you haul yourself to a lab and take the one-time blood draw - unless your cortisol is hitting pathologically high or low levels - this result does not represent your daily curve. 

Luckily, cortisol is one of the few hormones that can be measured reliably and accurately in saliva. Salivary cortisol offers an excellent representation of the actively functioning cortisol in your body. It can be measured in the privacy of your home, is non-invasive, and can be taken at the right times, in fact multiple times, to represent your physiology when waking, through the day and as your day comes to an end.

Cortisol levels should be the highest within the 30 minutes from when you wake up, and drops throughout the day, with only about 10% of the morning levels remaining by the evening. This pattern, called a diurnal, or circadian rhythm, is important to helping you have the drive to take action in the day and the capacity to sleep through the night.

Depending on the support you have, your history, and your tools at hand, the curve you are experiencing may be wildly different from your neighbor, even if you both feel stressed from the same situation. We are here to remind you to kick comparison to the curb and focus on where you are, how you are feeling, and what you need to do to get to the next day without collapsing. We are not aiming for perfect, because perfect is a fallacy (and if you can’t let go of perfect, let’s remind you that you already are, trust us). We are rooting for you, to feel knowledgeable, capable and motivated to take your next step to handle the onslaught of the day to day. 

The pressures women are under takes a team to support. We can’t change the broken systems (yet), but we can take control of what’s in front of us. Our bodies, our patterns, our choices. 

There is no magic number in the cortisol world, what you are looking for is just the right cortisol curve that your body needs - to promote energy through your day and rest through the night. Your adrenal glands have a rhythm and want to help you, and sometimes will push beyond their reserves when you ask. But just because you have 24 hours worth of tasks does not mean you should aim for 24 hours worth of energy. That might feel good and productive for a short while, but in time your body will feel the effects, in which the pendulum swings just as far in the other direction, leading us into burnout. Your C-Spot is that place where you feel like a healthy human again, not a superhuman.

Salivary cortisol and chronic anxiety

Stress, salivary cortisol curve

Cortisol as a measure in psychobiological studies

Salivary mental stress proteins

Saliva stress biomarkers in Covid-19 patients

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