What is fatigue?
Fatigue is a feeling we all know. It can occur at any time. Feeling tired after a physical or intellectual effort, or after a stressful episode is normal. Fatigue is a common physiological factor, which is characterized by a feeling of weakness, weariness, loss of energy, and lack of intellectual efficiency.
It is temporary and disappears with rest. A night's sleep is usually enough to solve the problem. However, it can happen that the feeling of fatigue persists and/or intensifies, without any apparent cause. A symptom common to many illnesses, chronic fatigue is considered an alarm signal that should not be ignored.
There are various causes of this unusual fatigue, such as psychological factors (stress, anxiety, overwork, depression), physical factors (nutritional deficiency, infection, health disorders), and even environmental factors (pollution, exposure to radiation).
How to recognize unusual fatigue?
Have you noticed that you are always tired, no matter how many hours you spend in bed? If you are someone with PCOS and have been experiencing some of the following symptoms for a few months, your fatigue can be anchored in hormonal causes.
- Fatigue upon waking despite having slept for an adequate number of hours
- A little more effort than usual requires you to get some extra rest
- Hypersensitivity to environmental changes
- Brain fog, concentration, and memory problems
Fatigue is a manifestation that can have many causes, from the most banal to the most severe. In fact, fatigue is the common denominator of many illnesses. Therefore, it is certainly important to bring it up with an expert who can help demystify feeling this way for you.
What’s causing this fatigue?
There could be several reasons why you are constantly tired and exhausted, but here are some reasons that could be major factors:
- Insulin resistance:
A significant proportion of women with PCOS struggle with insulin resistance which causes fluctuations in their blood sugar levels. This can lead to irritability, fatigue, and even mood swings.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
It is very important to have the right vitamins and minerals in your diet as they help your body’s daily and important functions. If your diet does not have the necessary amounts of vitamins (D, B12, and B9), iron, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, among others, you will have low energy levels.
If your thyroid is underperforming, it might lead to issues such as concentration, you might feel lethargic and sluggish. This is because your thyroid plays a major role in your metabolism, and when it is not functioning as expected, it might result in lesser energy being burnt and hence the tiredness and exhaustion
- Mental health issues
This could range from feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted, feeling burnt out; chronic concerns such as depression and anxiety can also cause additional fatigue.
Tips to overcome PCOS fatigue
Now we know what could be causing PCOS fatigue, but what can be done to overcome it? A starting point can be adopting a healthy lifestyle. Whatever may be the original cause or trigger, fatigue is worsened by stress, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, and an unbalanced diet consisting of high sodium, caffeine, red meat, and fast sugars.
The first treatment will of course be to rest and adopt behaviors that promote better sleep such as:
- stop consumption of tea or coffee after 4 p.m
- drink enough water
- adopt a diet rich in fiber, greens, proteins, and healthy fats
- start exercising and remember to give yourself time to rest and relax
- make an effort to live as closely as possible with the natural light cycle
- in the evening, turn down the light intensity from 9 pm
- limit the use of screens at night, as their light blocks the secretion of melatonin
In most cases, adopting certain simple changes in your lifestyle can be helpful for getting better rest and sleep. Eating right, incorporating physical activity, and sticking to a routine that allows you to unwind, are some things that might help. However, if you feel you have been struggling with fatigue for a very long time, it might be of help to consult with a medical professional and find out the underlying cause.
- Abdollahi, L., Mirghafourvand, M., Babapour, J. K., & Mohammadi, M. (2019). Effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in improving the quality of life and psychological fatigue in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 40(4), 283-293.