CFS and menopause

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So after living with ME / CFS for 25 years and being able to 'manage' it fairly well for the past 15 years (ie being able to maintain a full time job (albeit a very basic job) by sacrificing life outside of work and with the help of an extremely supportive husband) I have just had a fairly major relapse for no obvious reason. I haven't been over-doing the activity, haven't been ill, haven't been busy at work, etc. For the past 8 weeks I have basically been able to work and not a lot else. Falling asleep at the drop of a hat, major muscle weakness and fatigue (only managing stairs by being helped or going up on hands & knees), fuzzy head, swollen joints, the full works. Haven't been able to do the 1 walk a week I was doing as my only exercise. To make things worse, having hit peri-menopause the dreaded 'middle age spread' has arrived big style. So now I am in a position where I should really be increasing the exercise to beat the weight gain, but I am totally unable to do so. My diet is very restricted anyway due to IBS so there isn't very much i can cut out to reduce calorie intake (and I don't overeat anyway). I'm feeling really down due to a) having a relapse for no obvious reason, b) gaining noticeable weight but not being able to do anything about it, and c) faced with yet another doctor who can't come up with anything except offering me happy tablets that it's been proved I can't take and cause weight gain anyway. A real Catch 22 situation. Any ideas / suggestions?

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  • Posted

    This sounds so much like me! I was diagnosed with CFS in my early 30s and learned how to manage pretty well-pacing and working part-time.

    Then menopause came knocking on my door and my symptoms go worse. Menopause is difficult on a person who is healthy but on people with CFS, it is very difficult since it disturbs your sleep, and sleep is so critical when suffering from CFS.

    I've always taken oral contraceptives and at age 53 the doctor wanted me to get off them them-due to the risks. This seemed to make my symptoms much worse, so this makes me believe that somehow hormones play a critical role with CFS.

    To make a long story, my doctor finally put me on a low dosage Hormone Replacement which has helped some and I'm feeling somewhat better but not as good as I was before Menopause set in. I suggest that you talk to your OBGYN about hormone replacement. I realize that it is very controversial and has risks associated with it, but I rather live a decent quality life and be able to get up out of bed and manage my symptoms. Hope this helps. KPD

    • Posted

      Saw my GP recently as I was struggling so much. She mentioned HRT but as I've managed to more or less control the dreaded hot flushes by taking a sage supplement she didn't think it was worth trying. The drugs she wanted to give me to help with sleep etc I've had adverse reactions to in the past. In the end she literally told me to put up with it. I have read that CFS and the menopause can fight against each other to make each one worse. Its just so annoying to be back to almost square one with my CFS when I'm so careful and have already missed out on so much over the years.

  • Posted

    I know exactly how you feel! I've had ME/CFS for over 20 years and was managing my symptoms although had to give up work and had fluctuating good and bad days. But then in my late 40s I relapsed badly and feel I hardly have any good days now. I feel exhausted most of the time and everything seems much more of a struggle than before. I have also gained weight round my middle and am struggling to lose it. I used to manage walking and yoga regularly for fitness but then started struggling with both. 

    ?Unfortunately one of the side effects of the menopause is tiredness so it's like having another layer of tiredness on top of your usual exhaustion. I'm hoping that it will pass when all the menopause symptoms go away. I found taking magnesium helpful. I've also found listening to guided meditations helpful for reducing anxiety and resting during the day. 

    ?I feel I've improved slightly from what I was a couple of years ago and don't get so many hot flushes now and am sleeping a bit better. I've also managed to start doing some yoga occasionally and am trying to build up my walking again. But I'm still struggling with the healthy eating too. It's so difficult to prepare healthy meals when you don't have energy. I'm currently trying reducing portion sizes to see if that helps.

    ?Hope things get easier for you. You are not alone!!!

  • Posted

    No except I am in a similar position - had a very bad relapse - work induced though - suddenly put on 3 stone. Doc thinks it could be die to my medication but like you I can't exercise like I would like to and as I'm middle-aged too I am concerned that even if I come off the tablets I may not lose it. I have food intolerances which make it hard to follow diets as they always have ingredients I can't eat. Sorry I can't help any further except to say I do sympathise! 



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