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Menopause Fatigue:
When Your Body Feels Heavy

The most commonly reported symptom of menopause

If you had to guess which symptom of menopause is most common, you might choose hot flashes or night sweats. Would you be surprised to learn that the most often reported symptom is fatigue?

Maybe you’ve been experiencing fatigue and just chalked it up to your busy schedule. After all, between your career, family and all the other errands and housework of daily life, you have reason to be tired!

But there could be more going on.

That feeling of bodily heaviness that you’re experiencing, that lack of energy could actually be a symptom of menopause. If so, there’s good news: we can help. Keep reading to learn how feeling heavy and tired is an offshoot of menopause and what you can do about it.

Hormone Therapy Illustration

Why Does Your Body Begin to Feel Heavy?

During perimenopause and menopause, your body slows its production of various hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. Because these hormones are involved with the production and regulation of energy within your body, that decrease can result in a range of feelings, from mild tiredness to absolute exhaustion. You feel out of balance because the hormones in your body are out of balance.

Compounding the fatigue you feel from hormone fluctuation are the other symptoms of menopause. Your sleep may be interrupted due to night sweats, hot flashes, more frequent need to urinate, and other sleep disturbances. If your body is already fighting fatigue, a failure to get the rest you need isn’t going to help the situation.

On top of that, progesterone and estrogen also help protect you against sleep apnea, a disorder in which you can stop breathing for brief periods during the night. Once you reach menopause, you’re at greater risk of sleep apnea and you may find yourself waking more frequently as your body responds to oxygen deprivation.

During the daytime, menopause may also affect your concentration and energy levels. These symptoms, combined with the sleep issues, can make your fatigue and feelings of heaviness feel even worse.

Signs and Risk Factors of Menopause-Related Fatigue

If you get a good night’s sleep and still feel fatigued the next day, there’s a good chance that the heavy feeling you’re experiencing has its root in perimenopause or menopause. Menopause-related fatigue is often accompanied by irritability, brain fog, mood swings, and a general lack of enthusiasm.

If you’re experiencing other symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, vaginal dryness and insomnia, there’s also a good chance that your fatigue is menopause-related. Risk factors that can increase your chances for menopausal fatigue include:

  • Pre-existing sleep problems, including sleep apnea
  • Poor nutrition
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anemia
  • Substance abuse

Of course, your fatigue could have other causes as well, including co-occurring causes. Your doctor may want to rule out some the following causes of fatigue before treating your menopausal symptoms:

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Response to antidepressants, heart medications and antihistamines
  • Viral diseases
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Lack of exercise
  • Underactive thyroid gland
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity

What to Do If Your Body Feels Heavy

If menopause-induced fatigue is making you feel heavy and listless, there’s no need to despair. You have several options that can help you get your energy back, both via treatments prescribed by your doctor and through lifestyle changes.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Lifestyle changes are great (and we talk about them below), but sometimes they aren’t enough. That’s when a specialist in menopause treatment can be important.

At Hormonally Balanced, we’ve devoted our entire practice to understanding how hormones work within the female body and treating women whose hormones are out of balance. One key treatment that’s a true game-changer for many women is hormone replacement therapy.

Hormone replacement therapy provides your body with the hormones it has stopped producing. As a result, you don’t suffer the side effects and symptoms associated with menopause. While many women seek hormone replacement therapy to deal with the agony of hot flashes, this treatment also increases energy production within your body, pushing back against sleep disturbances, fatigue and that overall feeling of heaviness and slowness.

No two women are alike, so hormone replacement therapy varries from one woman to the next. Your doctor can talk about the benefits and work with you to figure out what dosages are right for you.

Meditation and Other Relaxation Strategies

Stress can add to fatigue, so any way you can find time to relax may help. Many women practice meditation or other forms of mindfulness and breathing techniques to destress. Some women like to pamper themselves with various types of self-care to unwind, while others take a more intentional approach with cognitive behavioral therapy or acupuncture.


It seems counterintuitive to say that exercise boosts your energy — after all, doesn’t exercise use up the little energy you’ve got?

Actually, regular exercise is a great way to keep energized, especially for women who have hit menopause. If you’re having trouble getting motivated, try focusing on movement routines that you find enjoyable. While it’s best to get at least 30 minutes of exercise several days a week, even a walk during your lunch hour or a yoga class after work can help boost your energy levels.

Exercise also helps control many other menopausal symptoms, including weight gain, hot flashes and mood swings. It also helps you sleep better at night — which, in turn, helps diminish that feeling of fatigue.

Dietary Changes

Some simple changes to your diet may help relieve menopausal symptoms, including fatigue. Avoid spicy foods that may trigger hot flashes. In contrast, soy sauce, edamame, tofu and other foods that are rich in soy will deliver a chemical similar to estrogen, which may help with some symptoms.

Try to avoid heavy meals, especially near bedtime. They can make you feel bloated and unable to sleep, and they can also induce heartburn. Smaller meals, especially those rich in anti-inflammatory foods, whole grains and lean proteins can help your body find a sort of balance.

The low hormone levels of menopause can also lead to dehydration, which adds to your heaviness and fatigue. Once you’re thirsty, you’re already on your way to dehydration, so keep a water bottle on hand and avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Alcohol also causes the throat to relax, so if you consume it near bedtime, you may be more prone to incidents of sleep apnea.

Would you like to learn more?

Feel free to call us or take our short women's health questionnaire.

Boston Hormone Therapy for Women

When Should You Be Concerned?

Everyone feels overly tired, heavy and slow from time to time. But when you’re dealing with persistent fatigue, it’s time to seek help. If you get plenty of sleep and you’re still drained, listless and exhausted, your fatigue has reached the level where you need to see a doctor.

Yes, menopause is natural and the fatigue you feel is part of it. But a doctor can help you get through menopause more comfortably and with greater energy. If your fatigue is interfering with your relationships, your daily activities, your ability to work or your sense of well-being, it’s time to make an appointment.

Your doctor will want to rule out other possible causes of your extreme fatigue, including heart disease, anemia, diabetes, thyroid problems and kidney or liver disease. Once these are ruled out, and especially if you are experiencing other menopausal symptoms, you can turn your focus to finding the right treatment to banish your fatigue.

How We Treat Body Heaviness in Women in Greater Boston

You can take control when menopause-related fatigue strikes and your body feels heavy. Hormonally Balanced is a concierge medical practice, focusing exclusively on hormone balancing and therapies for women. Headed by Dr. Emilia Phillips, a board-certified urologist, this team of experts specialize in hormones and have treated hundreds of patients with hormone therapies.

If low energy plagues you, contact us today to see if our team’s approach to women’s wellness might help you with those heavy feelings.

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