How to beat menopause fatigue


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


19 September 2016

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on  A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I’m going to talk about fatigue. Now, this is one of the more common symptoms in the menopause. And to be honest, the majority of women who go through the menopause will get this at some point or another. It’s part and parcel of the whole process.

However, some women might just get it now and again, but for other women, it’s going to be totally be debilitating. It’s going to be 24 hours, 7 days a week. And when fatigue strikes at this level, it’s going to affect your work, it’s going to affect your family relationships, it’s going to affect your intimate relationships, and it can have a huge impact on your get up and go, and you can you can lose that sort of joie de vivre, if you like.

And it’s very important that this is dealt with, because if it isn’t, it can continue on and on, and it can lead to some serious health issues once you actually get through the menopause, and I’ll talk about those later.

Why do we get fatigued?

So why do we end up getting fatigued? Well, it’s really very, very simple. The hormonal changes that are going on inside your body are basically draining you of energy. Your body has got to try and adapt and rebalance on a daily basis without the hormones that it’s been used to for a long, long time.

And eventually your energy levels can just fall to such a level that you end up getting fatigued.

Your nutritional needs go up at this point as well. And if you’re not actually getting enough nutrition, your body’s going to be very low, and that can cause fatigue as well.

We’ve also got this issue of multi-tasking. Do you know why is that women are always so proud of multi-tasking?

It’s like, “I can do six things a day, or all at once.” The problem in the menopause, because your energy is being used elsewhere, you very often don’t have enough to cover all this multi-tasking as well.

But what do we do? Do we say, “I will take care of myself. I will look after myself.”

No, we plod on, we push ourselves forward, and very often we just end up running on empty. And it’s no surprise then that we don’t have the energy to do all the things that we would like to.

Causes of fatigue

There can be a number of causes as well that can contribute to fatigue.

Dehydration

We’ve got dehydration. This is a really common one. Again, if you’re getting hot flushes and night sweats, you’re going to end up dehydrated, and it’s a well-known fact that dehydration will just make you really, really tired.

Liver

It could be your liver. And I spoke a short while ago on how important the liver is in the menopause. And if the liver is already stressed, you are not going to get the energy released that you actually need to control everything on a day-to-day basis.

Diet

We’ve got the diet. As I said before, you need loads and loads of different foods, really good variety, and possibly a good multivit as well just to keep everything topped up.

Poor sleep

We’ve also got poor sleep, and this can be due to a number of factors. If you’re getting night sweats, that’s going to keep you awake or you’re going to keep waking up. We know that oestrogen itself can actually affect the way that we sleep, and we can end up waking up a lot more often during the night.

Anxiety

And we also get anxiety. So we can lie awake at night worrying about things. We can end up waking up at 4:00 in the morning worrying about things as well.

And research has actually shown that poor of sleep will have a big effect on our energy levels the next day.

Exercise

The other big issue is doing too much exercise, and I know exercise is really important in the menopause for all sorts of different reasons. But if you exercise too much and your energy levels are already low, then you can end up getting really serious fatigue.

This is the point in the menopause where sometimes less is actually better for you than more. And it is worth knowing that the menopause is a phase, and for the majority of women, once you’re through it, your energy levels will creep up again, and you can get your fitness back really, really quickly. But sometimes, you know, just cut out these long sessions at the gym. Just keep active during the day as much as you can, and that will tide you over until such times as your energy level start to rise.

What can you do to help yourself?

Now, what can you do to help yourself in this situation? If you’re getting constant fatigue, it could be due to other things. And we know that low iron, especially if you’re getting heavy periods or you’ve had heavy or prolonged periods on the run up to the menopause, can cause problems with your iron levels. It could be low thyroid function. It could be low vitamin D. And low vitamin B12 seems to be creeping in the menopause as well.

So it could be a number of factors. So long-term fatigue, first thing to do get everything checked out by your doctor just to make sure that there’s no other underlying reason. Get your diet sorted. Have a good look. Could you add in more fresh fruit and veg? Remember that extra supplement as well. These are all things that are just going to help the body store and utilise energy an awful lot better.

Remember the water, lots of it every single day, and this is vital for so many different issues in the menopause. So please don’t forget that. The other really, really important thing is rest and relaxation. And this one is vital, and I know that there are many of you out there who go, “I don’t have time to rest. I am too busy.” Now, one of the great things you can do for yourself in the menopause is to be kind to yourself.

And there’s actually a study done in Australia, which has shown that those women who are kind to themselves in the menopause get less symptoms. And what do we do as women? We care about people. We look after other people. We’ve got our work. We’ve got our friendships. We’ve got so many things that we end up doing on a daily basis. And where do we put ourselves on the list of priorities? We’re always at the bottom.

And do we ever get to the bottom of the list? We don’t. So our own needs are very often forgotten, and we trend along. We push ourselves. We make sure that everyone else is okay. But the problem here is that if you keep doing this and you don’t look after yourself, at some point you can crash, and then you’re going to be absolutely no good to anybody.

Homework – put yourself at the top of the list

So in the menopause, putting yourself at the top of the list is the best thing you can do both for yourself and everyone else around you as well, and that’s going to be your homework this week. I want everybody to be kind to themselves and to put themselves at the top of their priority list. So let me know if you actually managed to do this. It will be really, really interesting.

Herbs to help

If you’re looking at herbs, then there are wonderful herbs such as maca and ginseng, which can help to boost your energy levels, and they can help to sort of support your nervous system.

So if you find that you’re getting fatigue along with a lot of stress, then either of these two herbs can be really quite nice for you at this particular point as well. Now, what can happen is if you get to the point where you don’t sort the fatigue out, and it goes on and on and on, there can come a point with fatigue, where you basically fall into a big hole.

Adrenal fatigue

And this is often called adrenal fatigue. And once you’re in this hole, it’s practically impossible to get out unless you get some kind of professional help. The problem with adrenal fatigue is that it gives the symptoms of hot flushes and sweats, joint aches and pains, low mood, depression, low libido. Doesn’t that sound like the menopause? So if you have been suffering for fatigue for a long time, it could have transferred itself into adrenal fatigue.

And adrenal fatigue is also common in older women, where you get a number of women who say, “I’ve been through the menopause. My period stopped 10 years ago, but I’m still getting hot flushes. I’m still getting the joint aches. I’m I still in the menopause?” And it’s more than likely that maybe they were extra stressed in the menopause, or they’ve had a long period of stress or very sudden deep stress that’s actually catapulted them into this state. So if you have had fatigue for a long time and you’re still getting menopause-like symptoms, then it’s really important to try and resolve the adrenal fatigue.

This is not something that doctors tend to be aware of. It’s not an illness. There are no tests for it. Nothing will show up apart from how actually you feel within yourself. However, complementary therapists such as the medical herbalist, nutritional therapist, acupuncturist or a naturopathic doctor, they will be well aware of adrenal stress and how it can impact on your health. So it may be worth going down that particular route just to see if they can help you.

Until next week...

So I hope this has given you a little bit of insight into one of the most common symptoms of menopause, and let me know how you get on with this. I look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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