Fatigue around one’s period is a common complaint among women. Most women are accustomed to dealing with PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), but not everyone may be aware of post-menstrual syndrome, which can be just as taxing. In this article, we will discuss the following:
- Fatigue and your period
- What causes fatigue after your period?
- Symptoms of fatigue after your period
- What can you do about low energy levels after your period?
- Iron rich foods to tackle fatigue after a heavy period
- When to see a doctor about extreme period
Fatigue and your period
Periods are a moment of great fluctuation in a woman’s body, with all the associated side effects, such as fatigue, pain, mood swings, cravings, and bloating. After ovulation, oestrogen levels fall quickly, which can bring on feelings of tiredness and lethargy, which is commonly referred to as menstrual fatigue. Most women experiencing fatigue as a part of PMS will report this lasting no more than a couple days. However, extreme period fatigue can last longer and may need to be addressed by a doctor.
What causes fatigue after your period?
Is it normal to feel fatigued after your period? The answer is yes. During your cycle, your hormone levels fluctuate, building up to the point of ovulation and then dropping when your period is over. Other factors relating to low energy after your period can include:
- Elevated stress levels
- Poor diet
- Low iron levels
Symptoms of fatigue after your period
Decreased energy, low mood, and feeling overall sluggish are all symptoms of post-period fatigue. If you are unsure if you are feeling period fatigue, it can help to keep a daily diary, noting your energy levels on each day of your cycle. From there, you can determine whether the low energy you are experiencing is related to your period.
How to deal with low energy levels after a period
If you are struggling with low energy levels after your period, there are some easy steps you can take which can help return your energy levels to where they’re meant to be.
- Exercise: It may feel counter-intuitive to exercise while feeling out of energy, but regular physical activity can actually help relieve period-induced fatigue.
- Eat a balanced diet: Choosing healthy foods and reducing caffeine, salt, and sugar intakes may help ease period symptoms, including feeling tired after your period.
- Sleep: A woman’s baseline body temperature increases by about half a degree Celsius before her period, which make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Try lowering the temperature during this time, to get better sleep, and focus on going to sleep on time, and allowing yourself to be fully rested for the upcoming day.
- Hydration: Drinking enough water throughout the day is especially important when you are on your period, and losing extra fluids.
- Take an iron supplement: During your period, you lose iron through menstrual bleeding, which in turn depletes your energy reserves. Taking an iron supplement such as Active Iron can help restore your iron levels. Active Iron is clinically proven to increase iron levels by 94%1, while helping to avoid the common side effects of oral iron, such as constipation and nausea.2
Iron rich foods to tackle fatigue after a heavy period
Iron-rich foods are a great way to keep your iron and energy levels up, especially after a heavy period. Iron can be incorporated in our diet in two ways: through haem iron (from meat-based sources), and non-haem iron (from plant-based sources). Non-haem iron is more challenging for our bodies to absorb, so those not on a vegetarian or vegan diet should incorporate red meats into their dinners while on their period. Iron-rich foods include:
- Beef, chicken, fish
- Cereals high in iron
- Nuts, dried fruits like apricots
Iron supplements can help with fatigue after a period
During your period, your body is losing iron due to menstrual bleeding. This can cause tiredness and fatigue, and one of the easiest ways to combat menstrual fatigue is through taking regular iron supplements. In fact, monthly periods are the most common cause of iron loss worldwide, with an estimated 220-250mg of iron per pint of blood lost.
It can be difficult to rebuild these lost iron stores through diet alone, which makes iron supplementation a great solution for those with regular and heavy periods. Active Iron contains a non-constipating iron formula that uses innovative technology to target the body’s natural site of iron absorption in the small intestine, rather than dissolving and oxidising in the stomach, as many oral irons do. As a result, Active Iron is clinically proven to have 2X better absorption of ferrous sulfate iron1, and is gentle enough to take on an empty stomach2.
Should I take an iron supplement if I get heavy periods?
Heavy periods can be a big contributor to low iron levels in women, and rebuilding those levels can be difficult. According to a survey conducted by Active Iron with 2,400 women, 67% said they experience heavy periods. You may have a heavy period if:
- You have long periods that last eight days or longer
- Your period flow or length has recently increased significantly
- Your blood flow requires you to change your pad or tampon more than once an hour for six hours in a row or longer. Changing the pad in this way can be the symptom of abnormal bleeding (menorrhea) which is due to an abnormal underlying condition.
Heavy bleeding during menstruation can lead to low iron levels, and taking an iron supplement can be a great way to ensure your iron and energy levels are kept to a healthy level. Many oral iron supplements dissolve in the stomach, where they are oxidised, and this causes gut irritation. Active Iron is different—its non-constipating formula is clinically proven to provide 2X better absorption of iron1, while helping to reduce the common side effects2.
For detailed information on periods, visit our Period Hub page, which tackles such topics as the science behind the menstrual cycle, pack pain, bloating, exercise, and how to best manage your period.
When to see a doctor about extreme period
Some fatigue around and after your period is normal, but there are instances where extreme period fatigue is something that should be addressed by a doctor or healthcare professional. If your periods have become heavier suddenly, or you are concerned, seek medical advice, as these could be symptoms of menorrhea (abnormal bleeding), and could be due to an underlying condition.
To determine what’s causing your heavy periods, your general practitioner may ask about:
- Your medical history
- How often do you have to change sanitary products
- How long do your periods usually last
- Any related symptoms, like pain or bleeding between periods
- How these symptoms affect your day-to-day life
1Wang et al. 2017, Acta Haematological, 138: 223-232
2Ledwidge et al. Data on file.