Why Are Women More at Risk of Developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder that causes extreme tiredness and sluggishness. It worsens after physical activity, and it doesn’t go away with rest. Other symptoms of chronic fatigue include memory problems, insomnia, and difficulties with concentration.

Women are four times more likely to experience chronic fatigue syndrome than men. Age also plays a role, as the condition rarely appears in children.

While researchers are still not exactly sure what causes chronic fatigue syndrome and why women develop it more often than men, some evidence points to how hormones, brain chemistry, and other conditions are intertwined with chronic fatigue.

Larisa Litvinova, MD, in Montclair, New Jersey, specializes in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Here, she has put together a short guide to help you gain a better understanding of this condition and why women are more at risk of developing it.

Women have a stronger response to trauma and stress 

A potential cause of chronic fatigue syndrome is intense psychological stress. This type of stress can occur after surgery, the loss of a loved one, or abuse. In women, the effects of psychological stress seem to last longer and have a more significant impact on their health than for men.

However, chronic fatigue syndrome can improve over time with treatment. With the right stress management therapies, some patients even recover fully.

Estrogen increases sensitivity to fatigue 

Estrogen and fatigue go hand in hand. Women who have higher estrogen levels are more likely to feel fatigued and sluggish. On the other hand, testosterone seems to have protective effects against both fatigue and pain.

If you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and are undergoing any type of hormonal treatment, ask your doctor how it affects your estrogen levels and if you can try a different approach.

Hyperflexible joints increase your risk of chronic fatigue syndrome

Joint hypermobility affects more women than men, and having flexible joints increases your chances of developing chronic fatigue syndrome. Scientists don’t know why these two conditions often overlap, but they suspect it may have to do with the hormonal makeup of women.

Research also shows that children and teens with hypermobility are three times more likely to develop chronic fatigue syndrome.

Treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome 

There isn’t a cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, but management strategies may help reduce sluggishness and improve your quality of life. Depending on your symptoms, Dr. Litvinova may recommend dietary supplements, homeopathic treatments, or a diet tailored to your needs. 

Because chronic fatigue syndrome can be triggered by a multitude of factors — including stress, viruses, and genetics — a holistic approach is a must to see improvements. Dr. Litvinova takes your overall well-being into account in her approach to your care.

If you’re not sure what’s causing your fatigue, or if you’ve been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and don’t know what to do next, contact Dr. Litvinova to schedule a consultation — either in person or online — and receive expert advice. 

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