The condition occurs when tissue resembling the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body. When this endometrial tissue is present outside the uterus, a person is diagnosed with endometriosis.
In this article, we explore the relationship between endometriosis and fatigue. We also identify other causes of fatigue and a range of treatments.
Can endometriosis cause fatigue?
Endometriosis fatigue may be caused by low iron levels.
Symptoms of endometriosis vary depending on where the endometrial tissue has grown. The condition has several stages. Each stage describes how much endometrial tissue is present and whether it has embedded into an organ or is growing on the surface.
A common symptom of endometriosis is heavy menstrual bleeding. Menstrual blood contains high levels of iron, and a person who regularly loses a lot of blood has a high risk of developing anemia. This condition causes a person to feel tired all the time.
A study from 2011 suggests that women who have experienced one or more of the following issues are more likely to develop CFS:
However, more research is needed in this area.
What does fatigue feel like?
Fatigue can cause headaches and difficulty concentrating.
A person with fatigue feels extremely tired and weak. Their energy levels will be low.
People with endometriosis may feel especially fatigued around the time of their menstrual cycle.
Fatigue may have other symptoms, including:
- muscle or joint aches and pains
- sore glands that are not swollen
- difficulty concentrating and confusion
- flu-like symptoms
- heart palpitations
When fatigue is severe, a person will often take long naps and feel faint when rising or moving too quickly.
Identifying the cause of fatigue
Because there is little formal research on endometriosis fatigue, it may be difficult to tell whether the gynecological condition is causing the persistent tiredness.
Anyone who suspects that they have endometriosis fatigue should see a doctor. They will order a blood test to check the body's levels of iron, blood sugar, and thyroid hormones.
Possible causes of fatigue include:
- Anemia. This describes a lack of iron, which makes it difficult for the body to create red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen around the body.
- Low blood sugar. Also called hypoglycemia, this can cause a person to feel shaky, faint, anxious, and fatigued.
- Thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough of certain hormones. The condition can cause fatigue, joint pain, and weight gain.
- Psychological reasons. Depression, stress, or emotional trauma can leave a person feeling extremely low on energy.
- An unhealthy diet. A diet high in fat and sugar can take a toll on a person's health and will often leave them feeling sluggish and tired. A lack of nutrients that help the body to stay energized may also contribute to fatigue.
- Vitamin D deficiency. Research suggests that a lack of vitamin D is linked to exhaustion and depression.
- Lack of sleep. Repeatedly going without sleep will leave a person feeling exhausted.
- Menopause or perimenopause. Falling levels of progesterone can disrupt sleep, as can hot flashes.
- Lack of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can make a person feel more tired. Doing light exercise each day can boost energy levels.
Treatment for endometriosis fatigue
Eating a balanced diet and getting adequate nutrients may help to treat endometriosis fatigue.
Some adjustments to lifestyle can help a person to manage their fatigue. These include:
- Changing the diet. A person with endometriosis should ensure that they are getting the right nutrients and achieving a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
- Avoiding processed foods. Processed foods contain a lot of added sugar, which can cause a person's blood sugar levels to spike and dip.
- Taking supplements. A person with anemia should boost their iron intake, either by adding iron-rich foods to the diet or by taking supplements. Vitamin D supplements may also help to improve symptoms of fatigue.
- Exercising. Regular light workouts can amplify a person's energy. Avoiding such activity may make a person feel sluggish and demotivated.
- Sleeping regularly. Having a consistent sleep schedule can reduce feelings of exhaustion during the day.
- Getting support. Endometriosis can cause a person to feel emotionally and physically drained. Talking with friends, or meeting people through social networks or online forums can prevent feelings of isolation and provide valuable tips and advice.
Fatigue may be linked to endometriosis, though more research is needed. Women with endometriosis who feel fatigued should consult a doctor to determine the underlying cause.
Changes to the lifestyle and diet can help to relieve symptoms of fatigue.