Menopause and fatigue – something I used to know so well..
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. It’s the one that really got me so I’ve looked into this in quite some depth! There are lots of reasons a woman can totally lose her energy, and knowing why it’s happening puts you in a position to do something about it.
This is by no means an exhaustive menopause and fatigue list, but here come to big players.
Trying To Carry On As Normal
Menopause is a time of massive upheaval that can wreak total havoc to a woman’s body and mind.
A lot of women I know and meet through my work as a GP have really busy lives. They try to keep all this going despite experiencing something that is akin to illness in the way it can take its toll on your body.
If you’re suffering badly with fatigue – take a step back from whatever you can to conserve the energy you have. Sometimes it’s necessary to step back, before you can start going forward again.
Energy Production Itself Takes A Hit
Tiny structures in your cells called mitochondria, generate energy from the food you eat. But as well as food they need a whole host of other things to work well and efficiently.
Mitochondria have receptors for oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone – kind of suggesting these hormones play a role in energy production! Oestrogen and progesterone levels in particular are falling off a cliff, testosterone levels are on the slide too around middle-age.
Women who chose to replace their hormones do tend to feel a lift in their energy. But there are many other things you can do too.
Menopause and fatigue is a big focus of the menopause workshops.
Poor Food Choices
Energy is produced by your mitochondria, and they are hybrids – they can use both glucose (sugar) and fat. They like to use both, but work more efficiently with fat.
Many people hardly ever allow their body to be in a fat burning state, because they’re eating carbs too often, which puts a more-or-less constant stream of insulin into their system. If you’re carrying excess body fat you’re likely to be doing this.
You can really help your energy levels by cutting back on carbs and eating much more good fat. Learn how to fat burn.
Menopause and fatigue can happen independently of sleep issues, but they’re often linked.
Hot sweats wreck sleep. Even if you’re not having sweats, changing hormone levels can destroy sleep anyway.
There are many things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene, and I will be writing much more on this soon. However, if you’re experiencing significant sleep problems now for the first time there’s one sure way of helping it, and that’s HRT.
Other Hormonal Issues
Do you wake up a few hours after going to sleep with that odd feeling of being knackered and wired at the same time? That’s probably cortisol.
Cortisol is a stress hormone released by your adrenal glands. One trigger for it being released is a crash in blood sugar, which can happen in the early hours for two really common reasons.
Drinking alcohol in the evening will drop your blood sugar a few hours later. Eating sugar or refined carbs in the evening will do the same. When your blood sugar gets too low cortisol will be released to increase your level. But because it’s a stress hormone it will stimulate your brain and wake you up.
If this is happening to you – take a look at what you’re eating in the evening. Make sure you’re eating slow release carbs and plenty of healthy fat. Go easy on the booze.
Thyroid issues become more common in middle-age women. If your thyroid function is low you’re going to feel knackered. It’s an easy blood test to get this checked.
If you’re overweight – have you been checked for type 2 diabetes? This is another cause of fatigue that can remain hidden for ages, but it’s an easy blood test to check this too.
Menopause And Fatigue
Fatigue can be crippling and depressing, but there is much you can do to get your energy back. I will be writing much more so stay tuned.
I really think that while you’re putting yourself back together it’s important to recognise you’re going through a hard time, and let the people around you know that. Strip back to what needs doing and let other people help too.
Menopausal women have lost all wiggle room for poor diet and lifestyle choices. Now is the time to look at this if you want great energy again. The other great bonus to doing this is that you’ll be setting yourself up for a much healthier time later too.
If you haven’t considered HRT yet – look into it. It may not be the magic bullet but it can help a lot.
Hope to see you on a menopause workshop sometime soon 🙂
Look after yourself.