Chronic Fatigue Female Hormones Menstrual Cycle

For some women, fatigue is a recurrent symptom of monthly periods. For a woman who suffers from menstrual fatigue, her period is accompanied by persistent physical and mental exhaustion that may not be relieved by sleeping.

Many women experience fatigue before their period as well. When fatigue occurs in the days before menstruation begins, it’s considered a symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Menstrual Fatigue, Period and Hormones

During a woman’s period, her hormone levels change. In particular, estrogen and progesterone levels are often very low just before menstruation and in the first days of a monthly period. In some women, an increase in hormones at the beginning of the menstrual period can cause an exaggerated response to insulin, leading to symptoms associated with low blood sugar, according to the Feminist Women’s Health Center (2010).

In either situation, low energy and exhaustion can result. Women who experience menstrual cycle fatigue tend to have similar symptoms at the same time in their cycle every month.

Lifestyle Changes to Treat Menstrual Cycle Fatigue

Menstrual cycle fatigue can often be addressed by making simple lifestyle changes. You may be able to alleviate the symptoms of menstrual cycle fatigue by:

  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Drinking ginger root tea, which can also help with cramps
  • Following a regular sleep pattern by going to bed and getting up around the same time every day, and getting adequate amounts of sleep
  • Maintaining a regular diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and limited complex carbohydrates
  • Participating in aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes each day, even during your period
  • Relaxing with yoga, meditation or similar therapies.

Menstrual cycle fatigue and PMS are both influenced by natural fluctuations in hormone levels, but they tend to be more prevalent in women with poor diet and exercise habits. Leading a healthy lifestyle with regular routines and habits can minimize the disruptive effects of changing hormone levels.

When to See a Doctor for Menstrual Cycle Fatigue

Symptoms of PMS, including fatigue, may overlap with those of many more serious conditions, including depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Extreme and disruptive premenstrual symptoms may be indicative of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), rather than PMS.

If your menstrual or premenstrual symptoms are persistent or debilitating, document the type, length and severity of your symptoms and discuss them with your physician. Medications such as antidepressants and prescription pain relievers may help you keep extreme menstrual cycle fatigue under control.

Resources

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). Premenstrual syndrome. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp057.cfm

Feminist Women’s Health Center. (2010). Menstrual cycles: What really happens in those 28 days? Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.fwhc.org/health/moon.htm

Matheson, C. (2010). Fighting period fatigue. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.uscuniversityhospital.org/condition/document/26023