Give advice on women's health concerns.

Fatigue and Menopause

Various psychological and physical factors are responsible for crashing fatigue experienced by women approaching menopause. Scroll down to know the causes and symptoms of fatigue, and how to lower excessive fatigue.
Leena Palande
Cessation of menstrual cycle is known as 'menopause'. Women belonging to the age group 45 - 55 suffer from pre-menopausal and post-menopausal symptoms. The average age of menopause occurring may vary from woman to woman. Women around 45 - 50 face several health problems due to impending menopause. When the ovaries stop releasing the hormone estrogen, a woman reaches menopause. The following sections would whet your appetite regarding 'why fatigue and menopause go hand in hand'.
Fatigue Experienced by Perimenopausal Women
Psychological Causes: These causes mostly depend upon the nature of the woman, her family background, and her lifestyle. Perimenopause is the mid-life period when a woman suddenly has to face health problems arising due to a hormonal imbalance in her body. Most women are not prepared for such changes. This is the age when a woman is about to reach the desired goals in her life. Suddenly, due to hormonal changes, she starts losing her temper. She suffers from insomnia, mood swings and depression. Vaginal dryness, irregular periods, heavy bleeding, low sex drive, headaches, low energy levels, and lack of sleep, affect her mental health seriously. Being at the peak of her career, she has to work for long hours. Housewives have to face increasing anxiety because of drastically changing circumstances (growing children, their behavioral changes, education, etc.). The early signs of menopause like severe mood swings, feeling of dread, irrational fear, difficulty focusing, disorientation, unpredictable behavior and fogging, are seen in most women and are attributed to hormonal imbalance. Excessive stress in life when the woman is lacking the hormone estrogen that controls the level of cortisol (hormone that activates anti-stress pathways), results in crashing fatigue.
Physical Causes: Hot flashes and night sweats are some of the common symptoms of menopause. Fluctuating body temperature and sleep disturbance due to nighttime breathing disorders can lead to excessive tiredness and fatigue. Some women experience lighter flow but some experience very heavy periods before menopause, which can cause crashing fatigue. Palpitations and irregular heartbeats during perimenopause lead to improper circulation of blood, which in turn can lead to low energy levels. Perimenopausal women may experience pain during sexual intercourse and decreased sex drive. This can also cause fatigue and depression. Some women may suffer from memory loss, which might lead to increased inactivity and social withdrawal. Postmenopausal women often gain weight and experience increase in fat around the abdomen. This also leads to inactivity and excessive tiredness. Adrenal glands help deal with anxiety and manage various forms of daily stress. These glands regulate energy levels, heartbeats, muscle tone, and several other processes that help the body to cope with stress. Lack of estrogen leads to emotional instability and adrenal fatigue.
  • Overall weariness; a general feeling of being exhausted
  • Strong desire for afternoon naps, daytime sleepiness
  • Loss of sex drive, vaginal dryness, sleeping difficulty
  • Severe mood swings and more 'down' days
  • Hot flashes, palpitations
  • Increased irritability, difficulty in concentration
  • Mental confusion, inability to manage normal routine
There are other signs of menopause too, like slight change in the body odor, urinary incontinence, thinning of hair, etc. But women need not worry about chronic fatigue. As the stressful time ends, fatigue goes away.
How to Cope with Excessive Fatigue and Menopause
Simple lifestyle changes can help get rid of fatigue during menopause. Since excessive consumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can affect sleep; women should avoid these; or should consume them in moderation. Use of a fan, air-conditioner, light bedding, and light cotton night-wear, can help reduce the effects of hot flashes and night sweats. Perimenopausal women should follow a healthy and light diet. They should have dinner 3 hours before going to sleep. Frequent small meals can help maintain energy levels. They should avoid 2 - 3 large meals a day, and should have 5 - 6 small meals instead. Drinking plenty of water and healthy liquids like milk, milkshakes, fruit juices, soups, herbal tea, etc., will help maintain energy levels. They can take herbal medicines after consulting their physician. Regular exercise plays an important role in balancing hormone levels. Moreover, exercises help maintain weight and help avoid several health problems. Women should learn meditation techniques and breathing techniques like pranayama, which help fight stress.
I hope you have got answers to the questions swirling in your mind. Doctors may suggest hormone replacement therapy and may prescribe antidepressants and certain other medications to lower the troublesome symptoms of fatigue and menopause. Positive thinking, self-confidence, support and love from family members, are some of the important factors which help lower these symptoms.