Approximately 20% of womxn have moderate to severe premenstrual symptoms that they perceive as distressing, and which impact their work and/or social relationships. Fatigue is one of the most commonly reported symptoms in womxn with PMS and affects roughly 71% of menstruating people. So, if you hit that luteal phase slump, know that you’re not alone.
What’s the deal with fatigue?
PMS and fatigue associated with PMS are often signals of hormonal imbalance. Which can be caused by stress and poor gut health. But don’t sweat—there is a lot you can do to combat this!
Another reason you could be feeling this energy drop leading up to your period is due to low estrogen levels. Your progesterone production is higher in this part of your cycle as well which contributes to that chilled out bliss. This change in hormone levels causes a drop in several neurotransmitters—the chemical messengers in your body—which are important in preventing insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
One of those neurotransmitters is your good friend serotonin—your happy-mood chemical that comes from an amino acid called tryptophan. It’s plentiful in foods rich in protein like chicken, fish, and milk. When your gut is happy and healthy, tryptophan found in these food gets converted into serotonin, which gives you that mood boosted feeling.
If, on the other hand, your gut is inflamed due to stress or poor diet, tryptophan is converted into inflammatory proteins instead of your bestie serotonin. This deprives your brain of those happy chemicals.
The combination of low estrogen prior to your period reducing your serotonin and gut inflammation will leave you without enough serotonin for that bright and bushy-tailed outlook you had before ovulation. PMS fatigue is what you’ll get instead. *thumbs down emoji*
Some other causes to consider
If your hormones are balanced and your diet and gut health are stellar but you’re still struggling with PMS fatigue, there are a few other things that could be contributing factors.
- Low iron: If you have a heavy flow, it could lead to iron deficiency anemia. The body is unable to produce the hemoglobin that red blood cells require to transport oxygen to the body’s cells if there isn’t an ample supply of iron. Symptoms can include weakness and fatigue. Chat with your doctor if you think this could be an issue.
- Food cravings: You may experience cravings during or before your period which can lead to overeating which will spike blood glucose levels before dropping them. This blood sugar level crash could leave you feeling tired and fatigued.
- Interrupted sleep: Painful period and mood swing sufferers may find it hard to fall or stay asleep at night. This can contribute to a feeling of increased fatigue and tiredness the following day.
*Pro tip: Check out our PMS & Period Support supplement to help with those painful periods!
What’s a PMSer to do?
The good news is, you’ve got options! A lot of which you can try at home. Always chat with your medical professional to get a diagnosis so you discover the root cause before you start a protocol. Discuss with them what they believe is best and also what you’re interested in trying for yourself.
Here are three things you can test out:
- Reduce your stress load. Being stressed out isn’t good for your mental health and it can affect your physical health as well. We’ve put together a PMS guide so you can un-hate your period, as well as a mindfulness guide to help you find a sense of inner peace. Check in with yourself regularly to discover what you need in each moment—needs can change.
- Prioritize your gut health. Did you know that your gut health is essential to your immune health? If that’s not enough of a reason to pay attention to what you’re putting in your body, consider how what you eat affects period pain and how period pain and your gut are connected.
- Keep your hormones in balance. Balanced hormones can be a game changer, especially in those who suffer from fatigue. They affect so much more than just your menstrual cycle so it’s worth investing in keeping them stabilized. Check out The Bundle—both The Daily and the PMS & Period Support—to help keep your hormones balanced, your gut inflammation in check, and your mood uplifted.
There is evidence that minor dips in energy levels will happen throughout our cycles but that doesn’t mean we have to “live with it” or that it’s “normal.” If you’re extremely fatigued prior to or during your period, talk with your doctor—there may be an underlying condition in need of your attention that is causing the fatigue. Just because PMS fatigue is common does not mean it should be normalized or tolerated by those it affects. Let’s shift the description back to common and take back our energy.