Review on April 06, 2009
Although insufficient scientific research exists to connect fatigue experienced during menopause to more serious diseases and ailments, there are signs that menopausal fatigue could be a precursor to such conditions as sleep apnea, clinical depression and anxiety, and coronary artery disease.
Fatigue during menopause is a normal symptom at this stage in life and could likely mean nothing more serious than the sensation of heavy eye lids brought on by hormonal imbalance. But fatigue can also occur from more serious conditions. Doctors suggest that if fatigue is affecting a woman's life, she should get a medical examination to ensure the fatigue is not an indication of something besides the natural transition of menopause.
Doctors and scientists have been studying fatigue for years to determine its origin and when it is natural and when it is evidence of serious conditions. Yet, because studies have widely varied in quality and focus, the true nature of fatigue is still up in the air. Below is a breakdown of some of the results of past studies that have shed some light on fatigue, but in other ways have provided more questions than answers.
- Several studies have shown a connection between menopausal fatigue and more serious conditions. Whether the results indicate cause or correlation has not been determined.
- An Internet-based survey of 448 perimenopausal or menopausal women, 380 (89%) and 355 (83%) said they felt tired or lacked energy, respectively.
- One study identified depression or anxiety in 80% of test subjects who experienced fatigue.
- In a study of snorers, 91% of women reporter feeling fatigued throughout the day, which was a likely indication of sleep apnea.
- A study of 515 women with a mean age of 66 years old four to six months following a myocardial infarction showed unusual fatigue to be the most frequent early symptom of a heart attack, with 70.7% of women reporting feeling fatigued prior to their attack.
Because the evidence connecting fatigue to more serious conditions, and because it is also a normal symptom of menopause, it's important to see a doctor of day-time fatigue becomes a problem.
- Hall, Mary N., MD.; Leach, Laura MLIS. "In menopausal women, does fatigue indicate disease?" The Journal of Family Practice. www.jfponline.com.