Are You Tired All the Time? Could it Be Endometriosis?
A new study found that fatigue is a very common symptom of endometriosis, but is seldom discussed in the literature or by doctors.
Women with endometriosis are used to being told: “it’s all in your head”. Usually, that statement is in reference to their pain, but it could also apply to fatigue. Being tired all the time impacts everything we do and the quality of our life, but fatigue is seldom discussed as a symptom of endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a disease causing the tissue that lines the uterus to grow outside the uterus. Its symptoms include:
- painful periods
- heavy periods
Chronic fatigue should be added to that list of common symptoms.
Fatigue is a Common Symptom of Endometriosis
A recent well-designed large study discovered just how common fatigue is for women with endometriosis? The study matched 560 women in Switzerland, Germany and Austria with diagnosed (surgical and symptom confirmation) endometriosis with 560 control women with no history of endometriosis. The women were matched by age and ethnic background.
Frequent fatigue was experienced by over half of the women with endometriosis (50.7%) and was much more common than in the control women (22.4%).
What to Do About Chronic Fatigue Caused by Endometriosis
1. Accept that fatigue is a real symptom of a real disease.
The first step is accepting that this is not in your head. You may very well be tired because of endometriosis. Acceptance that fatigue is a symptom of endometriosis allows you to plan on it and work around it.
For some women, the fatigue caused by endometriosis is associated with insomnia, pain, or depressions. Treating these conditions may help with the fatigue.
For some women, the chronic fatigue occurs at specific times during their menstrual cycle. Knowing when the fatigue will be at its worst allows you to plan.
2. Check for other causes of your fatigue doesn’t have other causes.
Just because fatigue is a symptom of endometriosis does not mean that it is not also a symptom of other diseases. Talk with your gynecologist about your fatigue and have her rule out other possible causes. A simple blood test can rule out the more common causes.
If you are low in iron, your body may have trouble making red blood cells, which is known as anemia. One of the main symptoms of anemia is fatigue. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, weakness, and lightheadedness.
Low blood sugar.
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, is a common cause of fatigue. Sugar is your body’s main source of energy so it stands to reason that low sugar levels will result in low energy levels. Other symptoms may be shakiness, irritability, and anxiety.
If your thyroid gland does not make enough of certain hormones, known as hypothyroidism, you may feel tired. Other symptoms may include weight gain and joint pain.
3. Eat healthily and exercise.
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again…because it is true. Our bodies need healthy real food and regular exercise to perform at its best. If you are experiencing fatigue caused by endometriosis, you must double down on your commitment to eating well, making sure you are getting enough protein and vegetables.
As hard as it may be to make yourself exercise when you are already tired, exercise is crucial to combat fatigue. Find something you like to do, or at least don’t hate, and schedule it into your week–aiming for at the very least three times per week. You may need to schedule it during times of the day when you usually feel less tired. Most people find that it is easier to stick with an exercise routine if you do it in the morning.
4. Develop a strong bedtime routine.
We humans are routine oriented folks. Most of us need routines at night to get a good night’s rest. Your routine should be predictable and enjoyable.
- Go to bed and get up at about the same time each day.
- Allow for plenty of unwind time.
- Turn off all screens (phone, TV, and computer) an hour before you want to turn out the lights.
- Try using an eye mask to block out lights.
- Avoid caffeine and exercise 4 hours within your bedtime.
Is fatigue a common symptom of endometriosis for you?
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