Chronic Fatigue Female Hormones

Women frequently suffer from the symptoms of chronic fatigue due to fluctuating hormone levels. Menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause can all cause hormone levels in your body to shift. An increase or decrease in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause sleeplessness, anxiety and fatigue.

Fatigue and Menstruation

Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can cause fatigue symptoms. Some women experience mild fatigue during menstruation, while others experience severe exhaustion. Hormonal birth control can either worsen or improve these symptoms, depending on how it interacts with your individual body chemistry.

If you find that you are excessively fatigued during menstruation, talk to your health care provider. He or she may be able to recommend medication to help your fatigue symptoms.

Fatigue and Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body is maintaining not only your energy levels, but your fetus’ as well. Some fatigue during pregnancy is normal, especially during the first and third trimesters. Pregnancy hormones can trigger fatigue symptoms, as your body works hard to sustain and nourish your unborn child; you’re likely to feel more tired than you usually do. In addition, frequent heartburn, urination and hormonal shifts may impact the quality of sleep that you’re getting at night.

If you have unrelenting fatigue symptoms that are making it hard to function during the day, you may want to consult your doctor or midwife. A condition such as anemia or gestational diabetes could be causing your chronic fatigue, and if this is the case, the condition should be treated quickly.

Fatigue and Breastfeeding

If you choose to breastfeed, you may find that you feel fatigued. This is caused in part by female hormones, and in part by interrupted sleep. Breastfeeding-related fatigue is especially prevalent during the first few months of the breastfeeding relationship.

To help ease the symptoms of chronic fatigue while breastfeeding, try the following:

  • Be sure you’re eating enough protein
  • Drink adequate amounts of water–dehydration often manifests itself as fatigue
  • Rest with your feet up while breastfeeding
  • Sleep when your baby is sleeping
  • Take a multivitamin recommended for postpartum mothers.

Fatigue and Menopause

The relationship between female hormones and chronic fatigue becomes especially obvious during menopause. Lowered estrogen levels can cause night sweats, insomnia and irritability. Women who are experiencing these symptoms may find relief from medication or hormone replacement therapy. If you’re experiencing menopause, and your fatigue symptoms make it difficult for you to make it through the day, your doctor may be able to help.

Resources

Everydayhealth.com. Menopause symptoms: Fatigue and menopause. (2008). Retrieved September 16, 2010, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/menopause/fatigue-and-menopause.aspx

Penn State: Milton S. Hershey Center College of Medicine. Premenstrual syndrome. (2006). Retrieved September 16, 2010, from http://www.hmc.psu.edu/healthinfo/pq/pms.htm