There’s nothing like that wiped out feeling once your period hits.
Often you’ve had to put up with a week of PMS, and then when it finally starts, your energy is at rock bottom.
Why do you feel so tired around menstruation?
Let’s take a closer look at why your energy levels can drop.
Why am I so tired at that time of the month?
There are several reasons for fatigue around menstruation. Sometimes it’s just one reason, and sometimes it’s a combination of several.
Here are some of the most common ones that I come across in the clinic:
Plummeting hormone levels
Your period occurs because the sex hormones, predominately oestrogen and progesterone, in your body drop rapidly.
This sudden change, a few days before your before your period, can sap your energy levels, leaving you feeling flat and fatigued.
Fluctuating blood sugar levels
Women often crave high-carbohydrate foods like chips and chocolate as part of their PMS symptoms. *Oh Boy* they taste good BUT these foods will cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. You might feel great for 20 minutes after your treat, but as your body stores the excess sugar, your energy levels will plummet.
Blood sugar levels can drop along with our ‘feel good’ hormone, serotonin. This can leave you feeling flat and a bit blah.
Our bodies are clever. Having sugar and carb cravings is a way for the body to increase serotonin levels. When we eat these foods, serotonin is released making us feel ‘good’.
But for how long……?
Low iron levels
During your period, you lose iron through the blood losses. Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of fatigue in women who menstruate. This blog post explains it further. So it’s no surprise that low iron can contribute to your low energy, particularly during your period.
I often see women who are stuck on the cycle of low iron levels and heavy periods. And each month their iron levels are depleted even further.
Your period can affect how well you sleep. One study showed that 1 in 3 women experience sleep issues during menstruation.
Do you experience the dreaded insomnia the night before your period?
Progesterone increases after ovulation and is known as a ‘drowsy’ hormone. There is a sudden drop, just before your period begins which can leave you feeling ‘wide awake’ the night before.
This certainly doesn’t help with energy levels the next day.
How have more energy around your period
If you’re feeling sleepy and wiped out, don’t just reach for the coffee and chocolate to push through. These tips will help to relieve some of your exhaustion and get you feeling better sooner.
Listen to your body and rest when possible
Our bodies generally have a better idea of what’s going on than we do! Even if you’re not aware of sleeping poorly, there’s a good chance that it is at least one factor in your low energy. Pace yourself, take your time to complete tasks, and then have a little rest break. If you can fit it in, have a 20 minute nap in the afternoon to refresh you.
Eat balanced meals and snacks
For steady energy levels, you want to opt for balanced meals and snacks whenever possible. That means including some protein, fibre and fruit/vegetables in as many as you can. Snack on some hummus with veggie sticks or a handful of nuts, have a big salad with all your favourites for lunch, and go for yoghurt with berries instead of reaching for the ice-cream at night.
I get it, the sugar cravings can be quite strong and we often succumb to them. These nutty chocolate balls are a good option to help hit that sweet spot.
Opt for gentle movement over intense exercise
Intense exercise has its benefits, but now is not the time to go to your HIIT class or try Crossfit for the first time. If you are exhausted, don’t push yourself, it will only drain your energy further.
Why not head to a Pilates class, or practice some calming yin yoga in your loungeroom. Even a walk around the block can give you some fresh air and movement without making you more exhausted.
Make sure you’re getting enough iron
It’s estimated that 20% of women experience iron deficiency in some stage of their reproductive life.
Menstruation is the main cause of iron loss and up to 50% of women aged between 40 and 50 can experience heavy menstrual bleeding making them more susceptible to iron deficiency.
You might think an easy solution is to take an iron supplement to correct the deficiency but I often find in clinic that the ‘recommended’ iron supplements are so high in iron, they cause constipation, stomach cramps and discomfort.
Women often stop taking these supplements due to this discomfort and end up iron deficient again.
I’ve found that focussing on reducing heavy menstrual flow with herbal medicine and including a high quality gentle form of iron works wonders on getting your energy levels back up.
Your next step…
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