Around 20% of Americans claim to have fatigue intense enough to interfere with their daily lives. Physical causes are estimated at 20-60%, and emotional causes are at 40-80%.
Fatigue is one of the most frequently experienced symptoms of menopause, with up to 80% of women reporting this experience at one time or another. Difficult to pinpoint and sneaky in its effects, fatigue can make this already tumultuous phase even harder to deal with, by making women irritable and unable to concentrate.
Primarily caused by the hormonal changes that come along with menopause, fatigue can be exacerbated by illnesses, other menopausal symptoms, behavior, or lifestyle. By understanding more about the causes and effects of fatigue, it is possible to overcome it. Read on to learn more about fatigue, how to recognize it, its causes, and possible treatment options in order to regain energy.
In order to understand what fatigue is, it's helpful to outline the signs and symptoms of fatigue during menopause.
Fatigue is defined as an ongoing and persistent feeling of weakness, tiredness, and lowered energy levels. This should be distinguished from drowsiness, which implies an actual urge to sleep. Fatigue involves a lack of energy rather than sleepiness.
Another distinction that must be made is that between fatigue as a symptom of menopause and chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a more serious and complicated disorder. Chronic fatigue syndrome includes periods of extreme fatigue that do not improve with bed rest, may worsen with physical or mental activity, and is often tied to other illnesses.
This symptom can be distinguished by a variety of mental and physical characteristics. Often these symptoms can be experienced in tandem. A woman undergoing menopause might feel a lag in energy levels that lasts all day, or experience shorter bursts of fatigue intermittently.
Fatigue is particularly frustrating as it has a duel effect on both mind and body, making the completion of normal tasks difficult if not impossible.
Click on the following link to read more about fatigue, or continue reading to learn about the causes of fatigue.
Around 20% of women undergo a hysterectomy in their lifetime, for medical reasons or through choice. This is a major operation physically and emotionally and the majority of women will experience extreme fatigue as they recover, but there are ways of dealing with the physical and emotional repercussions of a hysterectomy.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a condition characterized by extreme physical and mental exhaustion. Symptoms can range from distracting to severely debilitating, and in extreme cases, CFS can force its sufferer to sacrifice elements of their professional and social lives.
Causes of Fatigue
For women undergoing the menopausal transition, the most likely cause of fatigue is the fluctuation of hormones that occurs naturally during this time. Hormones are responsible for controlling energy at the cellular level, thus, when levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease, so do energy levels.
Hormones also play a role in regulating the sleep cycle. These fluctuations also affect a woman's ability to get a good night of rest, leading to fatigue in the morning.
Other hormones that are involved in this process include the thyroid and adrenal hormones, as well as melatonin. They all work at the cellular level to regulate energy levels, which means when the hormone levels naturally decrease during menopause, so do a woman's energy levels. This is what leads to the feeling of persistent fatigue.
While most middle aged women experiencing fatigue as a result of the hormonal changes that occur naturally during this time period, there are certain other, less common conditions such as thyroid disorders or depression, that are liable to cause fatigue as well.
Other Causes of Fatigue
• Adrenal fatigue
• Thyroid dysfunction
• Sleep disorders
• Psychological illness
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Sleep apnea
• Heart disease
Risk Factors for Fatigue
• Poor diet
• Sedentary lifestyle
Click here to learn more about the causes of fatigue or keep reading to learn more about the different treatment options for this troubling menopausal symptom.
Fatigue is a common symptom of menopause and can negatively impact daily life. Fatigue can occur alone or as a cause of other menopause symptoms, such as night sweats, insomnia, and anxiety. Provides a description of this bothersome symptom and also suggestions on how to treat it, including through lifestyle changes and herbal remedies.
Caffeine, a mild stimulant found in coffee, chocolate and soda, can be very detrimental to menopausal women suffering from fatigue. Shows how caffeine provides a quick burst of energy by stimulating the adrenal glands, but then results in a crash later, leading to an increased craving for more caffeine. You can manage fatigue by limiting caffeine in your diet.
Treatments for Fatigue
According to a new nationwide government survey, 36% of U.S. adults aged 18 years and over use some form of complementary or alternative medicine.
There are a number of treatment options to help manage and alleviate fatigue. It is generally recommended that women begin with the least invasive option, which would be lifestyle changes. In the case of fatigue, this involves such steps as getting enough sleep, making a few dietary changes, and exercising.
The most effective approach, as fatigue in menopausal women is primarily caused by a hormonal imbalance, is to treat the problem directly at the source. A variety of natural and alternative supplements exist that can address this imbalance.
For more prolonged or drastic cases of fatigue, it may be necessary to seek the advice of a healthcare professional and possibly turn to surgical or pharmaceutical options, though these carry the greatest risk of side effects.
Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for fatigue, which begin with lifestyle changes, move onto alternative medicines, and finally, if those options don't help, drugs and surgery. The most effective treatments for fatigue typically combine lifestyle changes and alternative medicines.
The effects of fatigue can seep into every avenue of a woman's life, including her relationships, professional performance, and sense of well-being. During perimenopause, women are particularly susceptible to fatigue because of the various sleep-disturbing symptoms that often take place in these years. Adjusting lifestyle, diet, and habits could be key to fighting menopausal fatigue.
Many of us forget the importance of diet: what you eat accounts for a large proportion of your well-being, and deficiencies in certain vitamins can intensify the effects of fatigue. By boosting your vitamin intake if you have a deficiency, you can combat extreme tiredness and face the day with energy.
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
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