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Dr. Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC
President & Chief Clinical Officer

What Causes Fatigue Before a Period? Plus How to Fight It

Feeling fatigued or a lack of energy before a period is a common symptom for many premenstrual women. Along with bloating, headaches, and a change in mood, fatigue is a common side effect of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  

In some cases, PMS fatigue can be so overwhelming that it interrupts women’s daily lives every month. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact. 

Here’s a look at what causes fatigue before a period and what you can do to prevent it. We’ve also included lifestyle changes that help alleviate period fatigue, as well as advice on when to see your doctor. 

Is it Normal to Feel Tired Before a Period?

It is perfectly normal to feel tired and fatigued before a period. And in most cases, it is nothing to worry about. In fact, period fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of PMS.  

Thought to affect over 90% of women, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common female condition that causes a wide range of symptoms from physical pain to emotional fluctuations.  

Symptoms generally occur 7-14 days before menstruation and can include mood swings, breast tenderness, anxiety, food cravings, and sleeping problems, as well as headaches, fatigue, and bloating.  

That said, some knowledge and understanding, as well as some healthy lifestyle changes, can help to ease and eliminate many PMS symptoms, including fatigue. 

What Causes You to Feel Tired Before a Period? 

More often than not, fatigue before a period is linked to PMS symptoms.

Although the cause of PMS is not clearly understood, researchers believe the recurring symptoms are linked to a change in hormone levels at the start of the menstrual cycle. 

As estrogen levels decrease in the second half of the menstrual cycle, the production of a brain chemical called serotonin is thought to lower too. Researchers believe it is the reduced levels of both estrogen and serotonin that can cause low energy and fatigue during PMS.

Fatigue before your period could also be caused by sleep disturbances linked to PMS. The temperature of the body tends to increase before menstruation, making it more difficult to sleep soundly. 

Cramping, headaches, and bloating can also interrupt sleep. Causing fatigue the next day.   

Tips to Fight Premenstrual Fatigue

Drink Extra Water

Stay hydrated by drinking at least 2 liters of water per day in the week before your period. As well as intensifying the feeling of fatigue, dehydration can worsen other PMS symptoms too. 

Eat Healthy Food

Eating healthy food throughout the day will boost your energy and help reduce fatigue. Foods and drinks that are high in sugar only cause energy crashes in the long run. 

Instead, stick with drinking plenty of water and eating more fruit, vegetables, and wholegrain foods.    

Move Your Body 

A 2015 study showed that even a small amount of daily aerobic exercise will boost energy levels and ease other symptoms associated with PMS. It’s best to fit your exercise in early in the day to boost energy levels. 

However, if the evening is the best time for you, try to exercise a few hours before bedtime so that your energy levels are not too high for sleep.  

Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can help to prepare the mind and body for sleep. Try to eat a light meal in the evening, at least three hours before bed, and drink your last coffee of the day at least six hours before sleep. 

Taking a bath, turning off screens, and going to bed at the same reasonable hour every night can have profound effects on your sleep. 

Cool The Bedroom

Keeping the temperature in the bedroom cool can also help women with PMS symptoms to sleep sounder. Because the body temperature rises in the lead-up to menstruation, it helps to use a fan, air conditioner, or keep a window open to keep the body cool during sleep.

Treatments and Supplements For PMS Fatigue

Vitex or Chasteberry Supplements

Known to help rebalance hormones like estrogen and progesterone, vitex supplements such as the Vitex Chasteberry Supplement from Intimate Roseare highly recommended by women’s health experts to relieve PMS symptoms. 

In a recent study, 93% of women who took vitex supplements over three consecutive months reported a significant improvement in PMS symptoms such as fatigue, pelvic discomfort, irritability, and food cravings.Research also suggests that vitex can reduce headaches during menstrual cycles by 66%. 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture, an ancient component of Chinese medicine where tiny stainless steel needles are gently inserted into the skin at specific energetic points of the body, is recommended by many women to help ease PMS symptoms.  

A 2014 study revealed that women who received regular and preventative acupuncture to treat PMS found a significant improvement in symptoms. 

When to See a Doctor For PMS Fatigue

For most women, feeling tired and fatigued before their period is not cause for concern. However, severe fatigue accompanied by intense sadness, extreme and lasting irritability, or a feeling of losing control emotionally could be signs of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).    

PMDD is a more acute form of PMS that often requires treatment. 

If you’re feeling exhausted before your period, to the point that it is difficult to function normally with life, work, or school, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Getting screened for PMDD allows your doctor to prescribe appropriate treatment that will reduce your symptoms. 

Conclusion 

Feeling tired or fatigued before your period is a common symptom of PMS. Healthy lifestyle adjustments, however, can help to boost your energy. 

Regular exercise, staying hydrated, and a healthy diet, as well as vitex supplements and regular acupuncture all help to improve energy and lift your mood. 

A relaxing bedtime routine, as well as a cool temperature in the bedroom, also improves restless PMS sleep to ensure fatigue does not take hold the following day.  

If you are experiencing PMS fatigue, or think you may have PMDD symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor for a screening and possible treatment options. 

References

Mayo Clinic – Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - https://kcms-prod-mcorg.mayo.edu/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20376780

National Center For Biotechnology Information – Sleep and Premenstrual Syndrome - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5323065/

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology - Effect of aerobic exercise on premenstrual symptoms, hematological and hormonal parameters in young women

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/01443615.2014.960823

National Center For Biotechnology Information - Vitex Agnus Castus for Premenstrual Syndrome -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6494412/

Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: a systematic review

https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-14-11

Mayo Clinic – Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, Different From PMS? - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/expert-answers/pmdd/faq-20058315