It's important when talking about endometriosis, we talk about fatigue. Unfortunately, fatigue is something that quickly accompanies endometriosis and can be life altering. Being in a constant state of pain takes a lot of energy out of a person. Having to plan your day/life around a chronic illness is exhausting.
Fatigue is different from just being tired. With fatigue, it doesn't matter how much sleep or rest you get, you're still tired. Fatigue leaves you with little to no energy or motivation. Some people who suffer with endometriosis also have chronic fatigue syndrome, which is oftentimes diagnosed when there are not any other explanations for symptoms the patient is experiencing. It can be difficult to get a proper diagnosis because there isn't one single test that leads a doctor to diagnose a patient with it.
Fatigue can also occur because of a vitamin deficiency. There have been studies conducted to determine the link between people who have endometriosis and vitamin D deficiency as well as a link between low vitamin B levels and chronic fatigue syndrome. The levels of vitamins can be checked by your doctor by ordering blood tests.
Early menopause and other gynecologic risk indicators for chronic fatigue syndrome in women (1,2) is a study that was conducted from 2004 to 2009 to determine if there is a link between women who have endometriosis, an early hysterectomy, menstrual abnormalities, and/or early menopause and chronic fatigue syndrome. The study found that 71 percent of the women who had a complete hysterectomy at a significantly younger age developed chronic fatigue syndrome. At the time of this study, more research needed to be conducted to determine if these body changes cause or lead to chronic fatigue syndrome.
I haven't been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, but fatigue is something I have struggled with for more than ten years. While I was attending college, I would study in my bed, and more times than not, I fell asleep. I wasn't like most college students. I couldn't pull all nighters studying or going out because I was always tired no matter how much sleep I received each night. Energy is something I didn't have then and still don't. I do have a vitamin D deficiency, which I was diagnosed by a doctor and take a vitamin D supplement. I have talked with many women who have endometriosis and suffer with some degree of fatigue and/or vitamin deficiency.
Rest is necessary to heal. It's okay to rest however long you need to. Fatigue that leaves you with no energy, no motivation, and canceling plans regularly is not normal. If you feel like you could have chronic fatigue syndrome and/or a vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor about possible testing and treatment options.
I hope you find this information helpful.
Samantha Bowick, MPH is the author of "Living with Endometriosis: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options" and "Living with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency" as well as a fellow sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses and patient advocate.