Postmenopause refers to the stage of a woman's life when menstruation has completely stopped, which occurs one year after her last menstrual period. The average age in which postmenopause occurs is 51 in the United States, but it largely depends on genetics and lifestyle. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms, affecting middle-aged women. Fatigue is defined by the general feeling of weakness, exhaustion, and decreased energy. Keep reading to learn more about postmenopause, postmenopausal fatigue, and what you can do to counter it.
During the menopause transition, a woman's hormone levels decline, and once she has reached postmenopause, they stay consistently low. This drop in hormone levels can cause a number of symptoms. These symptoms include both physical and emotional.
- Physical symptoms of postmenopause are commonly vaginal dryness, fatigue, urinary incontinence, and higher risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
- Emotional symptoms of postmenopause can include depression, anxiety, and mood swings.
Postmenopause can be a difficult time for women who are ready to stop experiencing menopausal symptoms.
Fatigue is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of menopause, affecting as many as 80% of women at some point in their lives. Fatigue should start to lessen during postmenopause, in older women is typically caused by hormonal fluctuations, specifically estrogen and progesterone levels. But it can also be a result of lifestyle factors like insufficient sleep, stress, and poor diet.
Symptoms of fatigue can range from mild to severe and interfere with everyday life and relationships. There are several symptoms of fatigue, which include:
- Decreased attention span
- Loss of motivation
- Loss of appetite
- Achy muscles
- Blurred vision
Treatments for fatigue, whether acute or chronic, are important in order to prevent it from getting worse, or becoming a day-to day problem. Follow these treatments to avoid fatigue during postmenopause:
Making sure to exercise regularly can be highly beneficial for combating postmenopausal fatigue, as well as other frustrating symptoms. Exercise regularly like yoga, biking, or brisk walking has been proven to help improve mood, reduce stress, increase energy, and promote bone health.
What you consume considerably affects how you feel during the day. It makes sense that if you eat healthy meals and snacks - including protein, fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates - that you will have sufficient energy throughout the day. It is helpful to avoid overly sugary, salty, and fatty foods.
Dehydration can trigger fatigue during postmenopause, so it is vital to stay properly hydrated (i,e; drink at least 8 glasses of water) throughout the day to maintain energy levels. Keeping a reusable water bottle around is a helpful reminder to keep drinking.
There are several herbs that can help fight fatigue during postmenopause, such as ginseng, ginkgo, and echinacea.
- Ginseng works by stimulating the nervous system to improve energy and concentration.
- Ginkgo contains antioxidants and helps fight fatigue by supporting blood circulation and enhancing oxygen utilization.
- Echinacea is used for strengthening the immune system, boosting energy, and fighting colds.
Postmenopause can be a trying time for women, but it typically signifies relief from menopausal symptoms, like fatigue. It is always important to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, especially when dealing with fatigue. Although exercising may not sound appealing when experiencing fatigue, it will significantly help in the long run.
- Chevallier, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. London: Dorling Kindersley Adult.
- National Health Service UK. (2013). Why am I tired all the time? Retrieved December 15, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/why-am-I-tired.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Fatigue. Retrieved December 15, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/fatigue.html