My top 5 tips to beat menopausal fatigue


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


11 September 2017

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 be giving you five tips on how to fight fatigue.

Now, I know there'll be those of you who've been watching for a while will say, "Why she's talked about fatigue before." I have, but this is one of the most common menopause symptoms around. Just about everybody will experience it at some point during the menopause, and it's one that we tend to do nothing about because we're too busy with our everyday lives.

So, I like to keep reminding you all that fatigue can be a very serious symptom in the menopause. It's obviously a very draining one. But it's one that you can sort yourself in the majority of cases, so let's go through it again.

Why do you get fatigued in the menopause?

So, why do you get fatigued in the menopause? There's a number of reasons for this.

Hormonal changes

The first thing is to think that all the hormonal changes that are going on in your body can really drain you of energy. We might appear calm on the outside. Inside, our body is busy. It's frantically trying on a daily basis to keep balance. And your hormones are going up and down, and the body is trying to balance everything again.

And that is what can really deplete us of energy. And it can happen really quickly. It can be something that can last quite a long time or it can be something that's really quite short-lived.

Don't ignore fatigue!

Now, the problem with fatigue, as I've said before, it's one that we tend to ignore. You know, as women today, we're so busy. We're doing everything. We're looking after everybody else apart from our own needs most of the time. And that drains us even further. So, it's really important to get a good balance in our life, especially when fatigue is happening on a regular basis.

Hormones decreasing

Now, I've very often, likened the menopause to puberty in reverse. It's just our hormones decreasing instead of increasing. But if you think about it, teenagers going through puberty, what is the main thing that they do? They sleep. So, they are very wise because their bodies get terribly fatigued by all the hormonal changes going on, and they are very sensible because they just listen to their inner instinct.

Listen to your body

So this is really important that you all listen to that feeling of tiredness. And when you are tired, when you are fatigued, it's really your body just saying,"I need to rest. I need to stop. I need to sleep. I need to do nothing." So, you know, that will be your homework for the next week. Listen to your body, please.

My top 5 tips

But now, I'm going to give you the tips.

Tip No. 1 - Go and see your doctor

Now, tip number one, which will probably come as a bit of a surprise is if you are getting lots of fatigue, if it's really draining you, if it is affecting your daily life and the quality of your life, the first thing you do is go and see your doctor.

Unfortunately, everything gets blamed on the menopause and sometimes, it's not the menopause that's at fault. And we do know that as you approach the menopause between maybe 40 onwards, then certain other health issues can start to creep in and they can all cause menopause-like symptoms. And sometimes it can be very difficult to tell them apart.

Low thyroid function

So, as I say, if you're fatigued a lot, if it's happening really often, if it's affecting the way that you're living your life, check with your doctor. Ask them to check you for low thyroid function. Now, low thyroid function will give you the fatigue. It will also make you feel possibly very cold. You might get cold sweats.

You can get low mood. You can get joint aches and pains. And you will find that your hair can get very thin and your nails can start to get brittle. And this is often a little package of symptoms that all go together, that can indicate that your thyroid is slowing down. Or a weight gain and not being able to lose it is another low thyroid symptom. So, it's important to get this one checked out. 

Low iron

Low iron as well, because low iron will give you the fatigue. It will affect your hair and your nails as well. Low iron, if it's really low, can actually trigger heavy periods. And in the run-up to the menopause, if you've had long-term heavy periods or you've started to get this scenario where your periods are becoming more frequent and are maybe longer, then you can end up with low iron very, very quickly. And low iron can give you all these symptoms that really look like the menopause and that will include fatigue. 
 
Low vitamin D

The other one is low vitamin D. This isn't normally tested in your average blood test so it's really important to make sure that you specifically ask for low vitamin D. It's so common in the UK now purely because we spend less time outside. Because, you know, we sometimes don't get very good summers.

And I know up here in Scotland, the winters are very dark. But we're also using suntan cream the whole time. A lot of people are putting it on before they go out into the sun. And that will actually block the manufacture of vitamin D in the skin. So, our lifestyle changes in this day and age can contribute to low vitamin D. And low vitamin D will give you the fatigue. It will give you the joint aches and pains. It can give you low mood. It can give you anxiety. So, again it's a little package of very specific symptoms. 
 
Low vtamin B12

And the last one, that it's a good idea to check is, low vitamin B12. Because this can sometimes happen around the menopause as well and it can give you things again, like fatigue.

So, you know, I would say to every woman starting the menopause, at some point, get all these checked just to rule them out. And if you know that these are not any of the causes, then you can sort things all the other ways I am going to talk about.

Tip No. 2 - Check your diet

So, tip number two is your diet. Remember all these changes that are going on in your body. They need lots of energy. Your nutritional needs can go up quite high during the menopause. So, a good, varied diet is really, really important.

The other thing to avoid is lots of high carbohydrates and sugar foods. The reason being is that these will put your blood sugar levels into yo-yo mode. You have something sweet, your blood sugar levels go up, you feel better. "Oh, the fatigue is gone." But with these high sugar and carbohydrate foods, your blood sugar levels will then take a very quick dip and you will get even more fatigued.

So if you find that your fatigue is a bit like a yo-yo, it comes and goes, and it's helped by things like coffee and a biscuit, or sweets or things, then that's very often an indication that your blood sugar levels are not stabilizing. And this can quickly cause ongoing fatigue, too.
 
So, you're looking at foods that are going to stabilize your blood sugar levels. So that's things like good-quality low-fat protein. You're looking at loads and loads of lovely veg. Not a lot of fruit, just a little bit of fruit. Your berries are probably the best ones to take.

And, but I know this always horrifies everybody, you need plenty of healthy fats in the menopause and they are one of the best things for keeping your blood sugar stable. So, if you're getting a lot of fatigue, check your diet. Make sure that you're not having high carb, high sugar foods, and make sure you're getting plenty of protein and good healthy fats in the diet. And that, by itself, can sometimes make a difference really quickly to your energy levels. 

Tip No. 3 - Water, water, water

Now, tip number three, can you guess what it is? There would be those of you going, "water." Yes, absolutely, because dehydration will tire you out no end. The other thing that dehydration will do is that it can shrink your brain, really. Your brain can get a bit dehydrated. That affects your thinking. And if you're sluggishly thinking things, that will, obviously, translate itself into physical fatigue as well.

So, it's really important to get plenty of water as I always say. And very often, fatigue and hot flushes and night sweats go together. And again, it can be just due to the fact that you got very, very dehydrated because of the flushes and the sweats. So loads of water, as always, and that again is another one that can help fatigue literally on the spot. A good glass of water can often give you a lovely little burst of energy. 

Tip No. 4 - Rember to relax

Tip number four, that's relaxation. And I know, most of you out there will probably be saying, "I don't have time for that." And I think, out of all the tips that I've given over the last few years, this is probably the one that you ladies find the hardest to do. Because as I mentioned earlier, we're all so busy looking after everybody else. We're working. We've maybe got families to run. We're so busy that an extra half hour a day, just for us, is seen as a waste of time.

But I can assure you, it's not. If you can have proper rest and relaxation, it's going to be wonderful for you. Because again, if you're running around all day like an idiot, then your body is going to tire very quickly. And if you're not maybe drinking water, if you're not eating enough, then you're going to get fatigued really quickly.
 
But actually, just having 30 minutes "me time" a day where you can shut yourself away, listen to some lovely music, can make a huge amount of difference to your energy levels.

And, you know, we don't always sleep well in the menopause because either we're getting night sweats or joint pains keeping us awake. And falling oestrogen can actually affect the quality of our sleep. So, especially if you're not sleeping well, then that extra 30 minutes a day by yourself, relaxing, can be worth its weight in gold. 

Tip No. 5 - Vitamin & mineral supplements

And tip number five, this is maybe linked to tip number two. I really do suggest some kind of good vitamin and mineral supplement in the menopause purely because of our body needs extra. And because we're running about more, our body is using up more energy and we can very, very quickly get deficient in both vitamins and minerals.

And, you know, for the last year or so, I have talked about very specific vitamins and minerals, and how important they are for us in the menopause.

So the thing to do here is go to your local health food shop, have a chat with someone there about finding a nice, maybe one-a-day multivit for you. And, again, that's something that can make a lot of difference. 

Remember the homework!

So, we've tried to look at fatigue in a slightly different way this time. Hopefully, these tips will help. So remember the homework, listen to your body every day for the next week and try these tips if you're fatigued. And, hopefully, you'll feel better. So I look forward to seeing you next week for another A. Vogel Talks Menopause.

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24 Comments

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  • Heather 's photo avatar
    Heather — 18.09.2017 16:44
    Thank you for the information about fatigue. I really appreciate it. It's very useful to know. Thank you.

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 19.09.2017 08:31
      Hi Heather You're welcome!

      Reply

  • Clare's photo avatar
    Clare — 16.09.2017 14:50
    Hi Eileen. I have asked about hair falling out before during the Menopause and you recommended a hair supplement plus lots of water and protein with every meal. Can you reassure me my hair will stop falling out when my menopause ends?

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 19.09.2017 08:31
      Hi Clare Many women find that their menopause symptoms ease off when they come through the menopause but this can depend on their general health, diet and lifestyle. Hair loss can be caused by a number of factors so it is a difficult one to say definitely that it will resolve afterwards but if you are already looking after yourself well then this should will be of benefit.

      Reply

  • Helen Randall's photo avatar
    Helen Randall — 12.09.2017 08:24
    I have been going through the menopause for about three years now and have found that I must have Hrt in order to keep my health together, but the advice to drink plenty (of water) and to take vitamin D has bee really helpful. as always its making sure that these changes are maintained which really makes all the difference. Im looking forward to trying herbal supplements perhaps in order to decrease the amount of Hrt which Im having to take. Tablets and patches have been necessary as my hormone levels were so low. I feel that I should badger my Gp(s) to check my bloods to see if the present levels are Still really necessary.

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 12.09.2017 09:30
      Hi Helen Great to hear that the water and Vit D have helped you! Yes, it is a good idea to take stock every now and again. If, at some point, you want to start coming off the HRT you can add in the Menopause Support and extra magnesium to ease the transition.

      Reply

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