Feel like you’ve been hit by a freight train? Like you’re going on 500-years-old rather than 50?
Fatigue is a common symptom of perimenopause and menopause. And yes, it’s all down to those pesky hormone imbalances.
Fatigue is more than just being tired. It’s having no energy – and often for no clear reason. You may well have had a brilliant night’s sleep but then all of a sudden you feel like someone came along and stole your get-up-and-go.
No, there’s no assailant you can take out with your handbag. This awful wave of exhaustion is caused by oestrogen levels hitting rock-bottom. It’s these same hormonal fluctuations that cause sleep problems like night sweats and insomnia. For most women, it’s a problem they first notice during the earlier stages of the change – the perimenopause.
If you’re wondering how long fatigue will last during menopause, the consensus from the experts seems to be two to three years, though you’ll most likely find it comes and goes in phases.
Want to know how to beat menopause fatigue? It’s another symptom with no silver bullet, but there are plenty of small lifestyle changes that will help bring back your lust for life.
SPEAK TO YOUR DOCTOR
While fatigue is most likely down to hormonal dips caused by the perimenopause or menopause, it can also be a symptom of a variety of serious health problems, including diabetes, thyroid issues and liver disease.
It’s really important that you start out by speaking to your GP or healthcare professional so the necessary tests can be carried out to rule out anything more foreboding.
WORK ON YOUR SLEEP ROUTINE
We know telling you to sleep more is probably the last thing you need to hear, but please don’t stop reading. It’s not necessarily more sleep, but better sleep that could help you banish fatigue and keep your usual pizazz right through the day.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time is sleep hygiene rule 101. Avoid screens at least a couple of hours before trying to drift off as the blue light they emit tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Natural remedies like valerian can also help make for a more restful night.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY ‘NO’
Feel like you’re trying to be all things to all people? You could be on the fast-track to burnout. It’s hard to reject other’s requests and say no, especially to the people you care about, but sometimes you have to put yourself first.
Give yourself space to relax and recuperate from the things you can’t get out of, and keep your stress-levels down by not taking on too much at once.
It might feel counterintuitive when all you want to do is collapse on the sofa with a large glass of wine in hand. But getting at least 30-minutes’ of exercise every day – whether that’s simply a brisk walk around the block or something more intense – can give you more zeal.
Exercising causes our bodies to release endorphins. These feel-good hormones not only boost your energy levels but your mood too.
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
On the subject of wine, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you need to pee. This in turn causes dehydration, which can lead to fatigue. Booze also disrupts sleep so it’s probably best to avoid it as much as possible if you’re already pooped.
If you’re struggling to get enough water down on a daily basis, buy a reusable one-litre water bottle and aim to drink it all before lunch, and another in the afternoon.
AVOID LETTING SUGAR OR CAFFEINE BE YOUR CRUTCH
When we’re knackered, it’s all too easy to demolish the contents of the biscuit tin and wash it down with a cup of coffee so strong the spoon stands up on its own.
Caffeine and sweet stuff does act as a quick fix, but as your blood-sugar levels plummet back to normal, you can actually end up feeling worse than before. Swap sugary snacks for potassium-rich bananas (athletes swear by them and so do we) or 80%+ dark chocolate, and make sure your meals include slow-release carbs like brown rice or quinoa.
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
If it seems like your other half is dragging herself around or just doesn’t have any energy to do anything anymore – go easy on them.
Here are some ways you can help them battle their way through fatigue at this time of life.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
In terms of self-care, we’ve recommended that they stay hydrated and avoids using caffeine or sugar as quick energy ‘fixes’. They could also work on their sleep routine, resist trying to be everything to everyone, and exercise to give them more pep.
Although it could just be down to hormonal flip flops, it’s important that they get checked out by a doctor if they are constantly exhausted.
CREATE A WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
When they are fatigued, it’s really important people eat healthily to fuel themselves well.
Share this responsibility. Planning meals ahead is a good way to get an overview of what you’re eating and manage weight too, while shopping for the ingredients together and sharing the cooking can take the pressure off. You could even sign up for a cookery class to learn some new culinary skills.
Regular exercise is a key tool for managing fatigue during the perimenopause and menopause.
Combining something you want to do (spend time together) along with something you need to do (exercise) can be a real game changer.
Partnering up to go for a walk, swim or to the gym is also more likely to help you both stay motivated.
ASK THEM WHAT WILL HELP
Ask her exactly what you could do to help. Can you do more round the house if you live together? Could you cancel on a couple of commitments to ease social pressure? Would they like you to run them a bath or even just make them a cup of tea – but only if that’s what she wants.
Ask, rather than assume. If you do the latter you may well find it has the opposite effect to the one you’d like.
GO WITH THE FLOW
You might notice her tiredness often strike at times when you’ve got plans. The truth is going to social events may be more stressful than usual, as the pressure of keeping up appearances when you’re not feeling like yourself is hard work.
Be prepared for plans to change at short notice and try not to put them under any pressure, even if it means you are missing out as well.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
We appreciate it may feel like a personal slight if she’s being off with you or generally withdrawn. But it’s most likely nothing to do with you.
Bear in mind that they might be feeling sensitive or completely exhausted due to her fluctuating hormones. Take a deep breath and either ask them if anything is wrong or if they needs some space.
If you’re worried about fatigue, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.
If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you: