Hormones are special chemical messengers, travelling around the body in the bloodstream, between cells and organs. They affect different functions from growth and development to mood and how well we sleep. Women and men experience a drop in hormones as we age, for women, it is the reduction in progesterone and estrogen which can cause problems.

Health on Female First

Health on Female First

Progesterone is known as our happy hormone because it can significantly improve a person's mood and sense of wellbeing. Its reduction can lead to anxiety and irritability which can, in turn, contribute to difficulty in sleeping. Some studies indicate, when progesterone is replaced orally, it can have a slight sedative effect and enhances sleep.

One of the effects of oestrogen reduction is hot flushes, and often women find it difficult to get comfy at night. Decrease in hormones during the perimenopausal stage can cause symptoms of anxiety and depression which is, in turn, can keep women awake and restless. Work stress can be triggered by a reduction of hormones which in turn increases the stress levels.

Is fatigue common around menopause?

Menopausal symptoms can lead to lack of sleep that increases the fatigue. Often women around the age of menopause are juggling ailing parents, teenage children and work commitments which can also lead to anxiety, stress and problems sleeping.

How can you tell if your hormones are making you tired?

Without professional help and an assessment it is hard to tell. Women are very good at putting up with feelings of fatigue and malaise, but no one needs to. There is help available and please make an appointment with your GP to discuss these issues but also get educated on what is going on during the perimenopause and menopause.

What can you do about it?

1. Gain as much information from reliable sources as possible and don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion. No two women go through the menopause the same way - no one solution fits all so be aware the answers may involve trying and testing various remedies until you find the one that suits you at that current time.

2. Find out about your testosterone levels. Though principally a male sex hormone, women also produce it and it is essential to many aspects of health and physiology. Testosterone, maintains libido, decreases body fat, increases muscle strength and helps counteract lethargy and depression. It supports bone density and protects against osteoporosis. Women have a minimal amount compared to men, but it's essential.

Though not provided by the NHS it is possible to find alternatives, and that is why women turn to HRT and replacement, plant-based, Bioidentical hormones.

3. Take Vitamin D and Zinc supplements. Low Vitamin D can lead to women getting insufficient sleep. Vitamin D is technically a hormone when produced by the body naturally, in response to sunlight. It's important for bone health: a lack of vitamin D can put women at risk for weakening bones, bone injury, and bone pain, especially with age. Vitamin D can also assist in maintaining a healthy weight. Maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D can improve both the quality of sleep and the amount of sleep you get.

Your body needs zine to regulate hormones and it is believed to be a sleep modulator. Zinc plays a major role in thyroid regulation and it helps the ovaries produce oestrogen and progesterone. It can improve anything from strength, confidence, energy and desire.

4. Get your thyroid function checked. Not related to the menopause but as we get older, it may not be working so well leading to slower metabolism, lethargy and tiredness. If you have sleep problems, it is worth getting it checked.

5. Learn about the importance of melatonin and cortisol. Melatonin normalises sleep, regulating the stage of deep sleep necessary to keep our immune systems working. It is only released in the dark so even using an eye mask can help. Otherwise, you can buy patches at the pharmacy.

6. DNA profiling. Supplement your DNA with nutrition and see if you can examine your DNA and match it with nutritional and lifestyle recommendations.

Emma Soos is managing director and urology nurse at The Women's Health Clinic

Tagged in