Chronic Fatigue Female Hormones Menopause

As they age and their hormone levels fluctuate, many older women experience persistent feelings of exhaustion. The changing levels of hormones associated with the onset of menopause, in particular, have been linked to chronic fatigue. As women enter menopause, they may begin to have trouble sleeping at night and to experience ongoing daytime fatigue that is not cured by sleep.

Adrenal Fatigue, Menopause and You

Your adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones, including testosterone (a small amount), estrogen and progesterone. While adrenal fatigue isn’t widely accepted as a valid diagnosis in Western medicine, some professionals believe that chronic stress causes the adrenal glands to overwork and become exhausted, causing chronic fatigue. In the alternative medicine community, adrenal fatigue is often cited as a cause of chronic fatigue in post-menopausal women.

According to the theory, symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Body aches
  • Digestive problems
  • Exhaustion
  • Hair loss
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nervousness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Unexplained weight loss.

If you think you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue, talk to your doctor. She can perform tests to determine what may be causing your persistent exhaustion. If you’re interested in alternative medicine and treatments, your doctor may be able to recommend a practitioner that specializes in acupuncture or another alternative treatment.

Treatments for Chronic Fatigue, Menopause

Regardless of the cause, you can treat symptoms of chronic fatigue during menopause in a variety of natural ways. Getting regular, uninterrupted sleep is paramount. Eliminate stimulants, like caffeine and nicotine, and try keeping your sleeping quarters cool to reduce nighttime hot flashes. If you still have trouble getting to sleep, try relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing to help you nod off.

If you work irregular or overnight shifts, consider normalizing your schedule to help ensure regular sleep. Avoid alcohol and foods that trigger heartburn or other digestive problems before bed, and exercise early in the morning rather than right before bedtime. Herbal sleep aids, like black cohosh or valerian, may also help in some cases. Check with your doctor before trying any herbal remedies.

In more severe cases of chronic fatigue during menopause, other treatments may be more effective. Talk to your doctor if the above suggestions don’t help your fatigue. Your fatigue could be caused by another underlying issue, such as depression, thyroid problems or sleep apnea. Common treatments for fatigue and menopause include:

  • Antidepressants: Antidepressant medications can change the levels of serotonin in the brain and can be very effective if depression or anxiety is at the root of your chronic fatigue. 
  • Continuous positive airway pressure: Abbreviated as “CPAP,” this is a common treatment for sleep apnea and other obstructive sleep disorders.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: Also known as HRT, this treatment can be effective at reducing fatigue in menopausal women.
  • Medications: Treatments for hot flashes and other menopausal discomforts often help women sleep better and fight off fatigue.

Resources

Mind Mine, LLC. (2010). PMS and menopause. Retrieved April 1, 2011, from http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/adrenal-fatigue-related-health-conditions/adrenal-fatigue-pms-menopause.html

Nipplodt, T.B. (2009). Is there such a thing as adrenal fatigue? Retrieved April 1, 2011, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adrenal-fatigue/AN01583

Vann, M. (2008). Menopause symptoms: Fatigue and menopause. Retrieved April 1, 2011, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause/fatigue-and-menopause.aspx