An introduction to fatigue and menopause
Fatigue is a feeling of extreme exhaustion and complete lack of energy. Menopausal fatigue, or crashing fatigue, is when this feeling suddenly overwhelms a person. While fatigue is often exacerbated after physical or mental exercise, for menopausal women it can come at any time, without good reason, even after a good night’s sleep. In fact, often with this symptom, the woman is not sleepy or longing for bed, but completely lacking in energy and unable to continue with their normal activities.
Certain lifestyle factors may trigger the symptom. These include stress and anxiety, and so it is worth trying to keep these at a minimum, not least for your general well-being.
At this time of life, low thyroid function and low iron levels can also appear, causing similar symptoms. If you are feeling fatigued on a regular basis, it is best to get checked out in case it is down to one of these underlying health issues.
It is important not to confuse episodes of menopausal fatigue with a more serious condition such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or anaemia, when you will feel prolonged periods of exhaustion which do not go away with sleep or rest.
Why does menopause cause fatigue?
Menopausal fatigue is often thought to be the result of hormone imbalances. As hormone levels, particularly oestrogen, fluctuate, you will notice differences in your energy levels. It is when the level of oestrogen is at rock bottom that you will experience fatigue.
These hormonal changes can influence your normal sleep pattern, so that women who had always slept well before the menopause find they are suddenly struggling to achieve adequate restful sleep. This is often a cause of fatigue during the day.
There are lifestyle causes which could also trigger fatigue. Many menopausal women feel that they are under greater time restraints, and often other menopause symptoms such as memory lapses can make a woman feel stressed. This is likely to result in an episode of fatigue.
What home remedies are there for fatigue?
Many menopausal women who suffer from fatigue find relief from simple home remedies:
- Sleep well – while this may seem obvious, many people do not realise how much sleep they actually need. Getting between seven and a half to nine hours sleep a night is vital to be able to function properly the next day. If you are having difficulty sleeping our sleep hygiene tips may help
- Stay hydrated – dehydration, more often than not, causes fatigue. Remember that certain fluids such as coffee and alcohol have a dehydrating effect and so water is a much more effective substitute
- Keep stress to a minimum – constantly worrying and panicking will only increase your chances of wearing yourself down. It is important to give yourself a bit of time to relax each day
- Eat a healthy diet – if you are taking in the correct nutrients each day, this will give you energy to see you through the day. Eating a lot of refined sugar or caffeine may give you a short-term energy boost, but will not help you in the long run.
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Are there herbal remedies to help me?
As hormonal changes are the root of many menopausal symptoms, start off with soy isoflavones, a supplement that can see you through all stages of the menopause.
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I'd also recommend trying our fantastic Balance Mineral Drink. This contains magnesium, a vital mineral for energy during the menopause. It also contains zinc, potassium, calcium and vitamin D.
What about conventional medicine?
If you have found that home or herbal remedies are not working for you, then it may be worth speaking to a pharmacist or doctor. There are some conventional treatments available to ease your symptoms of fatigue. However, as your fatigue is likely to be caused by the menopause, you may be asked to consider a hormone treatment such as HRT to tackle the root of the problem.
If you are worried about your condition, have experienced persistent episodes of severe fatigue, or are experiencing fatigue even when you are getting enough sleep, then seeking medical advice is also advised. This is particularly important if you are also experiencing heavy periods as you could be anaemic, or worried about other symptoms such as the condition of your hair which may be an indication of an underactive thyroid gland.