We are so used to leading hectic lives and feeling tired all the time, we often dismiss their fatigue as “just part of being a woman.”
It’s almost as if someone told an entire generation of women to expect to feel weak, irritable and unable to focus!
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I, on the other hand, spend my days trying to convince women they deserve to FEEL AMAZING.
While “tired" can be nuanced (meaning there could be many root causes), let's try to help you find and treat the root cause!
Q: Natalie, 47, writes: WHY am I SO TIRED all the time?
A: Hi Natalie!
The work that I do in the MenopauseChicksCommunity.com comes with a lot of stereotypes. So I'm going to begin by setting the record straight and telling you 3 things that are NOT behind you feeling tired all the time:
You are not tired all the time “because you are a woman.”
You are not tired all the time “because you are getting to that age.”
You are not tired all the time “because of menopause.”
I'm happy you reached out so you can learn the possible reasons behind fatigue/exhaustion.
Too often, women try to “push through” fatigue and as we are about to find out, that can mean missing or overlooking important health conditions!
Iron Deficiency: Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in women, causing things like fatigue, brain fog, cold intolerance, hair loss, and sometimes, not having enough energy to even climb a flight of stairs!
Important for you to note is this: anemia is only diagnosed when ferritin (measurement of iron stores) falls below 25. But fatigue is experienced when ferritin levels are 50 or below. My doctor says 90% of her patients are iron deficient! It is particularly common in women who still have their period and those who eat primarily a vegetarian diet. I know you have your period right now, so please have your ferritin checked (simple blood test your doctor requisitions) and choose a quality iron supplement, like Ferapro 75.
Learn more here + in Chapter 16 of MOKITA, How to navigate perimenopause with confidence and ease, written by pharmacist, Bob Mehr.
Thyroid: Conversations about perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause can get so focused on some areas (hot flashes, etc.) that thyroid health is often overlooked. I'm working hard to change that.
Review any list of common experiences associated with thyroid fluctuations and you will see fatigue and exhaustion at the top of the list. Along with your fatigue, if you are also experiencing cold hands & feet, inability of lose weight, dry skin, hair and nails, poor concentration, constipation or muscle aches, be sure to investigate thyroid with your primary care provider. Here is a great article on thyroid health written by my doctor.
You're carrying the weight of the world at home, with your children, with your aging parents, at work, in your community.
I don't know what to say except stop and try to put your own name at the top of the to-do list. I realize you have already started to do that by posting this question today. There is no “trophy” for pushing through fatigue; there could be a prize (your current & long-term health!) for investigating and asking for the support you need!
Do your experiences meet the definition of insomnia?
Do you have insomnia? Insomnia is defined as: difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early,…and/or having your quality of life diminished the following day...especially if this is happening more than once per week. If so, you have insomnia. Ask for health team for help. This is the place to start--because when we address sleep FIRST, we are better able to handle our other responsibilities (including self-care!)
What about cortisol?
Cortisol is our stress hormone. It is produced by the adrenal glands and plays a role in our immune system, central nervous system, circulatory system, stress response, and metabolism.
High cortisol causes us to feel tired-but-wired and prompts our body to store fuel as fat in places it can be used easily, such as our waist.
Low cortisol makes us feel exhausted and drained, like a car trying to run on an empty gas tank. Cortisol imbalance wreaks havoc on all our other female sex hormones--and can significantly impact our sleep, sex life and overall well-being.
Here's a popular webinar with Dr. Bal Pawa who explains cortisol and what we can do if this is the root cause of our exhaustion SPOILER ALERT: it has to do with putting your own name at the top of the to-do list!
Please circle back and let me know what you learn after investigating iron, thyroid, insomnia, and cortisol!
Someone you love might have this question too.
Thank you for inviting them to join the conversation at MenopauseChicksCommunity.com
& PLEASE watch the Menopause Chicks Masterclass here.