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We asked a doctor what causes fatigue at that time of the month, and what we can do about it.

| By Antonia Day | Wellness

Why Am I Always Tired on My Period?

We asked a doctor what causes fatigue at that time of the month, and what we can do about it.

If you’ve ever wondered why you’re so tired on your period, you’re not alone. Along with the bloating, cramps, breakouts, and mood swings that accompany the days leading up to your period, excessive fatigue is a shared symptom for many of us who menstruate.

We all know a good night’s sleep is key to feeling rejuvenated the next day, but sometimes when Aunt Flo is in town, those eight hours just don’t feel like enough.

We asked one of Australia's leading integrative medical doctors Dr Karen Coates to tell us why we get so tired during our period, and what we can do to try and combat the sleepiness.

What is progesterone?

Progesterone is active during the second half of the menstrual cycle, to prepare the endometrium (lining of your uterus) for a fertilised egg to implant and grow. Apart from this important function, progesterone benefits the body in other ways, including decreasing anxiety and improving sleep.

“Higher progesterone levels improve sleep quality, which is required to refresh our cognitive pathways,” said Dr Coates. However, “just before the period starts, progesterone levels plummet and stay low until around day 12 to 14.” Cue: moodiness, irritability and fatigue.

“Progesterone levels are highest around day 18 to 22 of a natural menstrual month, supporting wellbeing and quality sleep around ovulation time,” Dr Coates said. This explains why you often feel full of energy and optimism during ovulation, or around two weeks after your period.

How to boost energy during your period

The secret to great energy during your period is to “nurture your progesterone,” said Dr Coates. And to do this, we need to manage our stress.

“One of the most important strategies to support healthy progesterone levels is to harness tools for stress resilience. When stress hormones surge, fertility balance is compromised.”

Some proven stress-management strategies include meditation, regular low-impact exercise (such as walking or yoga), mindfulness techniques, reading, cleaning or other grounding exercises, and self-care rituals such as taking a bath or getting a massage.

Credits

For more from Dr Karen Coates, follow her @dr.karencoates

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