Dealing with crushing fatigue in perimenopause can be an overwhelming experience for many women and can severely impact daily life. Perimenopause fatigue can be particularly frustrating, because it impacts not only your physical endurance but also your emotional well-being. Understanding the connection between perimenopause and fatigue is the first step to figuring out how to manage this difficult symptom. So let’s break it down.
Understanding Perimenopause and Its Symptoms
Perimenopause is the phase leading up to menopause, the time when your body undergoes hormonal fluctuations and gradually shifts from its reproductive years to its post-reproductive years. This transition typically starts in your 40s but can begin as early as your mid-30s, and it can last for several years until menopause is reached. During perimenopause, your estrogen levels will gradually decline, contributing to a variety of symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, and irregular periods1 and, of course, fatigue.
Fatigue is a significant yet often overlooked symptom of perimenopause. What makes perimenopause-related fatigue can stand out is that it can be far more debilitating and last longer than general tiredness. It may manifest as a crushing exhaustion that can affect your ability to perform daily tasks, maintain relationships, and enjoy life2.
Why Does Perimenopause Make Us Feel So Tired?
The crushing fatigue you feel during perimenopause could be the result of:
1. Declining Hormones
During perimenopause, your body undergoes hormonal changes, including a decline in estrogen and progesterone levels. These fluctuations can lead to various symptoms, including fatigue. Estrogen is known to have a role in regulating energy levels, and as it declines, you may start to experience exhaustion and tiredness. Additionally, lowered progesterone levels can lead to disruptions in mood, causing feelings of anxiety and depression which further contribute to fatigue.
2. Sleep Disturbances
Perimenopause often comes with a host of sleep-related issues. Insomnia is a common complaint, and it can make you feel more tired throughout the day. Hormonal changes can also cause body temperature fluctuations, leading to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.
3. Night Sweats
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause is night sweats, which are sudden episodes of excessive sweating during sleep. These episodes can interrupt your sleep and can even impact your mental health.
How to Improve Perimenopause Fatigue
If you’re suffering and can’t seem to get out of this fog, we’ve got some quick and easy tips to try:
Movement and Exercise
Regular physical activity can help to fight perimenopause fatigue. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise like walking, swimming, or yoga each week. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and increase energy levels.
Manage Your Blood Sugar
Maintaining stable blood sugar levels throughout the day can aid in keeping your energy levels up. Incorporate protein and healthy fats into your meals to avoid energy crashes and sluggishness.
Drink Lots of Water
Stay well-hydrated by drinking enough water every day. Dehydration can make you feel tired, and affect your concentration and mood.
Create a Sleep Routine
Establishing a consistent pre-sleep routine can help improve your sleep quality. Create a calming bedtime ritual, like reading or meditation, and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
Meditation and Breathwork
Drink Less Caffeine
Be mindful of your caffeine intake, as it can disrupt your sleep patterns and lead to energy crashes. Try not to drink any caffeinated coffee or tea after 12 noon so it has time to metabolize before bed.
And Less Alcohol
Although many women enjoy a glass of wine in the evening to help them unwind and get ready for bed, the truth is that alcohol actually interferes with your sleep quality, Trust me, I know it can be hard, but try to drink less. Maybe try drinking only on the weekends so you can sleep in a bit if you need to.
Take Some Vitamins
Adding supplements like iron, vitamin B12, or omega-3 fatty acids can help to boost energy levels. But always consult with your healthcare practitioner before adding any new supplements because they can interfere with medications. Also ask for recommendations on which brands are best because not all supplements are created equally.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
For some women, hormone replacement therapy may be recommended by their doctor to help manage perimenopause symptoms, including fatigue. It is essential to discuss your options and the potential benefits and risks with your healthcare provider to find the best solution for your individual situation.
Fatigue is Not Always Because of Perimenopause
While it’s true that perimenopause can cause crushing fatigue, it’s important to note that not all fatigue experienced during perimenopause is a result of hormonal fluctuations. There are lots of other reasons that your energy levels might be low, like stress, depression, anxiety, or underlying medical conditions such as ADHD, anemia, or thyroid disorders.
When to Seek Medical Support
If you’re experiencing persistent or crushing fatigue, it’s important to talk to your doctor, especially if your symptoms are accompanied by:
- Shortness of breath: This could be a sign of an underlying lung or heart problem.
- Pain in the chest: Chest pain can signal a heart-related issue, which requires immediate attention.
- Irregular or fast heart beats: Heart palpitations, irregular or fast heart beats can indicate an underlying cardiovascular condition, or can be as simple as dehydration. Which is why it’s important to talk to a doctor.
- Muscle weakness: If you’re experiencing muscle weakness, it could be a sign of a neurological issue or other ailments.
- Abdominal pain: Persistent abdominal pain can point to gastrointestinal problems or other health concerns.
- Persistent headaches: Frequent headaches may be an indication of tension, migraines or other serious health issues.
- Skin rashes: Unexplained skin rashes should be evaluated by a medical professional, as they can be a symptom of an underlying condition.
- Vision changes: Sudden or persistent changes in vision should be assessed by a healthcare provider, as they may indicate eye problems or neurological issues.
Your doctor can help you determine the root cause of your fatigue and suggest appropriate tests, medications, and lifestyle changes to improve your energy levels and overall well-being. Keep in mind that research is always evolving. Luckily we’re here for you to help keep you up-to-date on the latest information about all things mid-life and perimenopause.