Low Cortisol

Next level (peri)menopause support with Kyrin Dunston

In this interview, Laurie and Kyrin Dunston discuss Next level (peri)menopause support and what issues and hormones might be at play for your symptoms. 

Kyrin’s mission for helping women make their 40s, 50s and beyond their best time of their lives. A board certified OBGYN, Dr Kyrin Dunston has brought together a powerhouse of women’s health experts who don’t believe we’re destined for a midlife of declining health, hot flashes, fatigue, brain fog and an expanding waistline.

There is a better way that you likely won’t hear about from your everyday health care team. That’s why Kyrin created the Stop the Menopause Madness Summit, which took place in Oktober 2021.

This is a transcription of an Instagram live conversation. You can find the full video on Laurie’s IGTV tab on Instagram and on soon on YouTube.


I have the amazing doctor Kyrin Dunston joining me today and we are gonna be talking at about next level support for menopause and perimenopause. So let’s dig into it. Could you introduce yourself?


I’m a medical doctor and board certified OB GYN for almost 30 years now. All the tools that I was given in my training said that I knew more about women’s health than anybody else, but that could not help me lose weight. 

When I was obese and weighed 243 pounds those tools could not help me get my energy back. When all I could do was sleep and work, they could not help me grow my hair or have a sex drive. 

That really had me looking and feeling 20 years older than I was. I looked at all the tools that I had from mainstream medicine. All my tests came back saying that I was normal. 

How many women has that happened to?

We know that clearly something isn’t normal. Often doctors don’t even test women’s hormones and when you do convince them they often don’t do the right tests. So your lab results will come back and your doctor will tell you that you’re fine. 

Then there’s some amazing things like insulin, which is forgotten. Everybody thinks that perimenopause is about their sex horones. They forget about the other hormones right there like their seven main metabolic hormones: insulin, glucagon, cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and thyroid.

Then we’ve got cortisol, which you’re not gonna hear about at your doctor’s office. You probably have a cortisol problem if you keep waking up in the middle of the night, have a tire around your stomach, which you can’t get rid of and your immune system’s a little off and you get sick pretty easily or have an autoimmune disease. 

If you tell your doctor that you think that you have a cortisol problem, they will probably tell you that you’re wrong. We doctors are taught that the only people with cortisol problems are in the top or bottom 2.5% of values of blood cortisol and have a disease, as in Addison’s disease or Cushing’s syndrome. That’s people in the ICU, it’s not people walking around.

But we’ve all got cortisol problems. We’re stressed and often we’re freaking out. We don’t sleep well, we don’t eat well and there is loads of pressure from society to look and act a certain way.

So if you’re doing all these things that are supposed to help with perimenopause and you are wondering, “Why isn’t this working? Why don’t I feel better? Why can’t I lose weight? What’s going on?” It’s because you miss the cortisol part of the picture. It might even just be the cortisol and not even perimenopause. 

You may be confused, because the people who you trust with your healthcare don’t have the right information. We should be able to entrust all knowledge and care to our healthcare providers, but unfortunately the type of medicine that we are trained in is really bandaid medicine. 

It’s about suppressing the symptom and when a symptom is gone, we claim success. For example we see that you can’t sleep very well, which is very common in your forties and fifties. So we tell you to take Benadryl at night or we give you a prescription for some sleep drug. 

When you come back to the doctor’s office and we ask you how you’re sleeping, you’re gonna tell us it’s great. Then us doctors claim success. We fixed the problem.

But what most don’t understand is that the same problems that were causing you not to be able to sleep are continuing only that you’ve shut that symptom down, because you’ve given a high powered drug to knock your brain out into that unconscious state. 

But your cortisol still disrupted your insulin. It still disrupted your estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which are all in the background and maybe causing problems 5, 10 or 20 years down the road. They are going to contribute to immune system dysfunction and you getting sick more often, maybe they contribute to autoimmune disease or the thing everyone fears: cancer.

One in two of us is going to get cancer in her lifetime. So you might sleep, because your doctor gave you medication to knock you out, but the fact that you can’t sleep says you have a cortisol imbalance and other hormone issues.

If you’ve got a cortisol imbalance, your immune system isn’t going to be working well and cancer is an immune system failure. Most people think that the immune system only stops you from getting sick and that’s a part of it, but your immune system also detects cancer and gets rid of it, unless your immune system is failing. 

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So most women are going to the doctors and not getting answers they need. Doctors keep telling patients that it’s normal for their age to feel tired and want to nap in the afternoon or to never want to have sex again. 

That is not normal and it’s not okay. I wish I had a dollar for every time a woman told me, “I don’t ever care if I never have sex again.” 


I’ve heard it so many times too and also the assumption that your libido just goes away and that that’s normal. 


It is not right. Your sex drive is your vitality thermometer. So when a woman tells me that she don’t care if she never has sex again, I know that her vitality is at the bottom of the barrel. 

Your body only rewards you with a sex drive when your health is abundant. When you are detoxified. When you have all the nutrients you need, you have no inflammation and your hormones are balanced. The natural outflowing of that would be a sex drive. 

Think about women in their twenties and thirties when they’re in their fertile years, when fertility and vitality are abundant. It’s no different just because you’re in your forties or fifties, your body only rewards you with that when your vitality is abundant. 

Not wanting sex is a huge red flag. If your sex drive is tanked, that’s your body telling you to pay attention and that something is very wrong. Also most women don’t really understand their sexual anatomy and if you don’t understand that how can you tell your partner how to stimulate you?


Yeah. The difference between a vulva and a vagina, how many women are really clued in on that?


Right. There is so much to your anatomy. It’s not just the little things on the outside.

I find with friends that starting in the forties and fifties that misery loves company, unfortunately. Most women don’t have any more answers than you do. They go to their doctor and don’t get answers. So what they do is they accept this as their new norm. Generally just feeling tired all the time, not wanting to go out dancing and just being camped out in front of the T.V. drinking red wine.

We start medicating ourselves because we don’t have the vitality that we want. So we need coffee in the morning to get that caffeine to jazz us up and keep us going. At the end of the day, we’re so hyped up and we can’t dial it down. So we medicate with wine.

Coffee in the morning and wine in the afternoon. If you’re in your middle age and you’re doing the coffee and wine tango every day, there’s something wrong. 

So misery loves company and your friends don’t have any answers. They’re just going to reaffirm that this is what happens to us at midlife. 

We think that we’re supposed to live this sexless, overweight existence. We shouldn’t have hot flashes either. It’s really sad what social media has done in regard to perimenopause and menopause. It’s not normal to be feeling tired and having to medicate ourselves.

It makes me so sad, because we have failed women. They really believe that this miserable existence is what they have to look forward to. We really have to stop that. We have to stop this menopause madness. 

That’s really what motivated me to create the Stop the Menopause Madness Summit. When you turn on TV and consume media and the first thing you see is celebrities posting bikini pics of themselves in their fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties. You will be depressed. 

We don’t have to accept feeling bad and envying celebrities, but it requires you to make a choice. It requires you to take a stand. It requires you to get the proper information that you need, the knowledge, tools, and support so that you can make 80 look amazing and be proud to take a bikini pic and post it on social media in your eighties. Or do you want to spend your eighties incapacitated in a wheelchair or walking with a cane? 

I just got really sick and tired of women being told that this is what you have to look forward to. This is your new norm. 

60% of us are overweight or obese and one in two of us is going to get cancer. I really don’t like those odds. I want a higher standard. If you want something better, you’ve got to realize that symptom management medicine is not dealing with the root cause. I love practitioners. They’re well-meaning, well-intentioned people, but it’s just the whole model of medicine. That’s how it’s built. 

You need to choose something better, which finds the root causes, but it’s going to require  you to take some action on your own so that you can make perimenopause, menopause, retirement and beyond the best time of your life.

It’s never too late. Once you have the right information, once you have the right tools, the knowledge, tools, and support that you need, you can go wherever you want with your health, but you gotta do something different.


Thank you Kyrin. I love your passion for this.

Find out more:

Connect with Kyrin Dunston on Instagram @kyrindunstonmd or check out her website.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, manage, or treat disease or serious conditions. Always check with your doctor before making any changes. It’s important to consult a well-informed health practitioner for personal advice about your situation before relying on general information we’re all wonderfully unique.

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Laurie Villarreal, FNLP, CHWC, FNS, LMC, CPT, RYT

Hi, I'm Laurie, a functional nutritionist and board certified health coach, athlete, dog-mom, and biohacking adventure-lover. After having struggled for years to find lasting solutions for my own debilitating hormone-related symptoms, I created my online practice to begin helping other active, driven women get the support they need. I now help  women around the world elevate their health, energy, business and life by optimizing their hormones with personalized nutrition and lifestyle tweaks. Together, we discover new tools and strategies that keep you showing up at your best so you can play even bigger in your life and work.

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