Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects women with the hormonal disorder in a variety of ways. Those who suffer with PCOS can experience ovarian cysts, weight gain, irregular periods, infertility, and a whole lot more. But, one of the most debilitating symptoms isn’t one often regarded as serious or severe: chronic fatigue.
Experiencing chronic low energy levels is anything but an insignificant symptom. When you’re overly tired, you lack motivation, you miss out on important events, and you’re robbed of joy. When you’re always fatigued, it’s hard to ever enjoy anything that’s happening in your life.
You suddenly dread the job you once loved. Quality family time after school feels impossible. And, no one should even think of inviting you to anything. You’re. Too. Tired. PCOS directly affects your energy, but how? Today, we’re discussing all things fatigue. You’ll learn where the low energy comes from and how to relieve the symptoms. Let’s get into it:
Does PCOS Cause Fatigue
As we discussed, polycystic ovarian syndrome causes chronic fatigue, but it’s not quite that simple! No one PCOS diagnosis is the same. Each woman experiences a different array of issues and symptoms; there’s no single cause or treatment. So, before we jump into how to rid yourself of this burdening symptom, let’s get into some reasons PCOS causes fatigue.
Irregular Sleeping Patterns
This one’s easy. If you don’t sleep well, you’ll be tired in the morning! If you suffer from sleep problems, you probably already know this is a contributing factor to your daytime fatigue. This is because sleep disorders are more common in women with PCOS.
Women with PCOS are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea, excessive daytime sleepiness, and other sleep disturbances. When you don’t have a regular sleep schedule, you’ll feel more tired. As sleeping issues worsen, your fatigue will increase too.
Hyperthyroidism and PCOS go hand-in-hand. The endocrine disorders are very similar, so it’s not uncommon for women with PCOS to also have an underactive thyroid. When your thyroid is underperforming, it doesn’t produce the hormones your body needs to thrive. This leads to dry skin and hair, body aches, weight gain, depression, hot and cold sensitivity, and, you guessed it, excessive tiredness!
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Irregular, heavy periods aren’t just annoying, but they’re also bad for your health. The excessive blood loss can lead to an iron deficiency. And, when your iron levels are low, chronic fatigue follows.
Low Vitamin B12 or Vitamin D
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that produces energy in your body. Your cells use vitamin B12 to function. So, without the proper intake, oxygen delivery and red blood cell production are both hindered. Since your tissues aren’t receiving the proper oxygen, you’ll feel weak and tired. Additionally, vitamin D deficiencies have also been linked to chronic fatigue!
Many women with PCOS struggle to manage their blood sugar levels due to increased insulin resistance. When your body is insulin resistant, it means it doesn’t store and process glucose properly. It will store the glucose as fat, rather than delivering the necessary nutrients to your cells. This leads to weight gain and tiredness. Then, you’ll feel especially fatigued after meals!
A drug known as “metformin” is often prescribed to women with PCOS to increase their insulin sensitivity and reduce androgens. Unfortunately, this drug has also been linked to vitamin B12 deficiencies Talk with your doctor about Ovasitol (15% OFF prc code 292660) and consider taking supplements with B12! !
The psychological stress of PCOS is abundant. There are a lot of reasons to feel overwhelmed, unhappy, and anxious. Acne, extra body hair, obesity, hair loss, infertility, and other physical changes can lead to enough mental turmoil that women with PCOS develop depression. Depression fuels fatigue. And, unfortunately, fatigue fuels depression.
How to Treat PCOS Fatigue
Knowing there are a lot of reasons why you may feel fatigued can be both relieving and overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you begin to relieve this symptom if there are so many reasons PCOS is dragging you down. Hang tight, Cyster, I’m here for you:
Maintain a balanced PCOS diet.
Food is powerful. If you eat a balanced diet to maintain proper nutritional health AND keep insulin resistance in mind, you can work wonders on your PCOS fatigue. Eating nutrient-rich foods and going gluten-free, dairy-free, and discovering your carb tolerance can increase insulin sensitivity, provide your needed vitamins and minerals, relieve inflammation, and balance hormones. For more support in this realm, we’ve created The Cysterhood, a hub where cysters can find meal and workout plans as well as our 5 Steps to PCOS Weight Loss video series to help you learn along the way.
What does all this mean? It means you’ll see a ton of relief by just changing your diet! Not only will you see an improvement in your fatigue, but you’ll see improvements in other symptoms too. (Ehm. No more weight gain!) Check out this article for PCOS pantry essentials and this post for the top PCOS fighting foods!
Maintain a good sleep schedule.
This one is tough if you have a sleeping disorder connected to PCOS. But, if you can change your sleeping patterns over time, you’ll experience a ton of long term gain. Try setting a bedtime alarm as well as a morning alarm. Keeping yourself on a consistent schedule will help develop those circadian rhythms!
Before you go to bed, you should also practice some relaxation techniques. Try mediating, breathing techniques, or even a warm bath. Additionally, avoid caffeine, sleeping pills, blue light, and naps that only contribute further to the poor sleep issue. If this is intimidating, try a complete bedroom makeover. Make your room a fresh and positive place to sleep in again! (Trust me, it helps!)
Bodies function using fluid balance. Any slight imbalance of fluid means your blood volume drops and your heart has to work overdrive to get nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. Your body working this hard will leave you feeling constantly fatigued. Drink lots of water. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated!
Reduce your caffeine intake.
Did you know that caffeine can actually make you more tired? This is true when stress is in the mix. When you drink caffeine, it stimulates your nervous system and makes you more alert and awake. Additionally, when you’re stressed, your nervous system is stimulated as well. This is to prepare your body for flight or fight mode to deal with whatever the stressor is.
Your body must release cortisol when you’re stressed to help your body regulate. When you’re really stressed over a long period of time, your adrenal glands can’t keep up with the needed cortisol. So, if you add caffeine on top of that, you further overwork your body. This leads to a hormonal imbalance and adrenal fatigue.
The sun’s rays help us with so many vital body functions! It helps calibrate our body’s internal clock (those circadian rhythms we discussed earlier), which leads to improved sleep and, thus, less fatigue! Additionally, vitamin D from the sun can boost your physical and mental energy by almost 40%! That means you’ll feel more awake and you’ll be in a better mood.
We’ve already discussed how stress can lead to hormonal imbalances as your body releases more and more cortisol. This stress hormone wreaks havoc on the body, leading to fatigue, high blood pressure, sleep problems, anxiety, weight gain, and more! So, evaluate your life and see where you can minimize stress.
This may look like better self-care practices. It may also look like cutting things out of your schedule. Or, maybe it’s ending a toxic relationship. Delete what you can to give yourself a more peaceful, stress-free life.
I know what you’re thinking: Exercise is going to make me less tired? It’s true! Doing regular low intensity workouts can increase your energy levels by 20% and reduce fatigue by 65%! WOW! This is because exercise doesn’t just workout your body, but it works out your central nervous system too. If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some great exercises for PCOS.
Taking the right supplements will replenish the nutrients your body is lacking to stay energized and focused. You can try to get all your essential vitamins through your diet, but it’s really tough. I recommend curcumin, coenzyme Q10, omega-3,and metamulti from my supplements line. You can read more about these collections of vitamins here.
Fatigue is a common, debilitating symptom of PCOS, but with the right lifestyle changes, you can experience relief!
Living your life with low energy makes EVERYTHING difficult. Then, when you pile on other PCOS symptoms, life can feel impossible. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to help manage your PCOS symptoms, get back to your ideal weight, and live your life to the fullest again. Check out my blog and podcast to learn all about living and thriving with PCOS.