Exercise Healthy Living

Why Am I So Tired?

Today’s post might involve too much information for some, but I need help.  And I’m hoping that some of you will be able to relate and tell me that I’ll be fine.  I’ve been really lethargic over the last few weeks, and I need to figure out why because it’s affecting my desire to accomplish everyday things.

Last week Cal noted that I’m always busy doing something, and that’s true.  Generally speaking, I’m pretty productive, but in the last couple of weeks, it has been a struggle to accomplish anything.  Doing dishes, doing research, reading, etc.  Everything seems to be sucking the energy out of me even after I’ve slept for 7 hours or so.  Last night, even relaxing in the jacuzzi felt like work.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining because I’m not.  And I’m not making excuses either.  I’ve been doing 30-Day Shred even though it feels harder than usual, and Monday I walked/jogged 4 miles and did a similar workout again yesterday.  I typically walk a mile in about 12 minutes, but over the last few days it has taken just over 20 minutes per mile.  What?!  I’m doing what I need to do in spite of my fatigue, but I need to get to the root of it because feeling tired all the time stinks.

My habits haven’t changed much over the last few weeks.  Sure, I’ve been traveling, but I do that a lot.  I have been eating well this week and controlling my portions.  The only thing that’s different is that I’m taking birth control pills now.And now I wonder…Could they be affecting my energy level?  Could they be affecting my weight?  I’ll speak to my doctor about it during my next visit, but so many of you have insight to offer so I want to hear what you think.

Does taking birth control alter your energy levels or weight or mood?  Should I talk to my doctor about this now, or should I wait until my next visit (sometime next month?)  Will it regulate as my body becomes accustomed to taking it? I’ll keep doing what I have to do, but I’d like to have my energy back.

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  • Reply
    Heather B
    December 7, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Birth Control can completely alter your body. It will take awhile for your body to get use to the hormones in it. I would say to wait and talk to your doctor at your next visit just to see how your body reacts over the next month. I will say that BC pills are known to make women gain weight so keep that in mind!

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 3:37 am

      I was thinking that talking with my doctor at my next appointment would work for that reason…I can see if I get used to it or not. This lazy feeling will not cut it, but I’m hoping to see a major improvement as my body adjusts. If not, I know I’ll have to try something else.

  • Reply
    Christina @ Just Running
    December 7, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Cal said it: You’re always doing something. How often are you working out? How long have you been working out this frequently and at this intensity? Your body may need a break. There’s a chance this could be a result of birth control, but I’d try taking a few days off if I were you.

    Also, that is an amazing walking pace. It’s actually my running pace. You go, girl!

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 3:39 am

      I’ve been working out regularly (about 5 times a week) for over 2 years now so I definitely feel like my body has adjusted. There are times when I can’t wait to workout and times when I dread it..but I have to do it. I’m responsible with breaks (been taking too many lately.) And I’m not working nearly as hard as I have many times in the past which is why I think it could be the pill.

      And thanks. 🙂 My pace tends to gradually increase, but it’s taken a serious hit lately. At least I’m moving, right?

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Birth control generally will have short term symptoms (moodiness, fatigue, less of a sex drive, spotting, and in some cases minor weight gain, especially in the breast area) as your body becomes accustomed to the shock of hormones, however, if the brand is agreeing with you, these symptoms should dissipate around 2-3 months.

    Women usually blame long term weight gain on birth control as an excuse; although multiple studies have been done that show there is no conclusive evidence linking birth control as a definitive cause of weight gain. Generally what happens is if the birth control is not agreeing with you, the moodiness can cause people to crave comfort food (as with any non birth control related bad mood). More comfort food= weight gain.

    If you notice that these symptoms aren’t going away after several months, you should try a new brand. There are several types with different dosages of hormones/ different combinations of hormones/ different administration methods. It usually varies per person; for instance I originally was on Lo-Estrin 24, and I had awful mood swings, total loss of sex drive, and was getting my period for upwards of 10 days at a time. I then switched brands to Orthotrycyclen- Lo and experienced minimal symptoms in the beginning that then went away. However, I have many friends that use Lo-Estrin 24 and love it.

    I hope everything works out for you!!

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 3:41 am

      I spoke with my doctor about weight gain before agreeing to go on the pill, and she said that it affects some and not others….she also noted that my body will be more apt to respond kindly because I’m feeding it healthy things (most of the time.) So I know that it won’t cause permanent weight gain though it could explain the shot I saw on the scale last week. I definitely didn’t do anything that made me expect to gain 8 pounds…regardless, I gained them so now I have to work on losing them. It would be a bit easier if I wasn’t so tired…

      Now it’s almost 3 am, and I’m awake because a neighbor’s house caught on fire moments ago. I’ll get to sleep for about 5 hours…sigh…

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Glad to hear you’ll talk with the doc about it next time you go. I’ve known women who changed formulas and brands until they found the right one for their bodies, so that might be something to look into. The other thing that makes a big difference for me is how much protein am I getting. I tend to eat less protein than my body needs unless I focus on getting enough. So the moment it slips my mind, my protein intake drops. (Sigh, yes my fave food group is carbohydrates but they don’t give me energy like protein does.) Good luck figuring it all out. Oh and one more thing that makes me feel better is eating kale. I actually do get energy from eating that. Best wishes.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 3:42 am

      I’ll definitely talk with the doc next time I’m there if not sooner…and I haven’t been getting as much protein lately. I’ve eaten egg whites and a bit of turkey, but I haven’t had as much as usual. I’ll try to increase that today and in the coming days…very good point. Thank you!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I think it could definitely be down to the birth control – any change in hormones can affect you in myriad ways. Weight gain could well be related, and in the UK/NHS they tend to discourage the use of hormonal birth control in women who are seriously overweight for that very reason – that’s my experience. It can be worth trying a different type of pill (progesterone-only if that’s not what you’re already on as it’s often the estrogen in a combined pill that’s the problem) or even better moving to a non-hormonal solution like an IUD. Different pills will have different effects – I’ve had pills that have given me huge mood swings and nightmares, and friends who have developed food allergies on some pills that have resolved on switching. It’s definitely worth going back to your doctor to see what they suggest.

    That said, any kind of ongoing birth control is a major change in your body and will take a few months to adjust to – so maybe take it easy on yourself for a while? I don’t mean on food and exercise, but just in what you expect of yourself generally. I kind of see changing hormones as affecting personality, you might not feel like doing the same things in the same way as before but you’ll get used to it or find a different way to do things that suits you better.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 3:44 am

      You’re right..it is a major change so I hope it will adjust soon. It’s so important to me to lose weight, to see the numbers going down as opposed to up, but the hormone changes are definitely something to take into consideration. I just don’t want it to be a reason for gaining…I just cannot do that now…thank you for your input…

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Before you got to the part in your post about birth control pills I thought “maybe she’s pregnant?” By no means do you need to disclose if that’s a possibility or not, but I am assuming that if it is that the doctor did a pregnancy test before you started the pills.

    I agree with the others about giving it time, talking to the doctor and getting the right pill for you. My sister was a total b*!&# on one brand of birth control pills, it wasn’t until she went off them she realized how it had affected her mood for so long. It is great that you are so aware and in tune with your body – you will be able to determine if it’s right for you.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

      Oh dear..that definitely isn’t a possibility at this point..thankfully. I’m going to try to give it time and go from there I suppose..

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 6:21 am

    I feel for you! It could be so many things, including the birth control, lack of iron, protein deficiency, hormone imbalance… pick your poison. 🙁

    If you have an appointment set with your doctor soon, that should be good enough, but if this lethargic feeling continues, and your appointment is more than 4 weeks away, I’d book another one sooner!

    Take care of yourself. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Maybe it’s a vitamin thing or something? You could get that checked out? 🙂

  • Reply
    Karen P
    December 7, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Thyroid – be sure to ask the doc for a TSH and free t4 test and a review of your last 3 values. Or you’re preggers and you’ll find out soon! Or something else. But be sure to see your doc this week.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm

      Nope..it’s not that for sure…ha…maybe thyroid though? Although I don’t know why it would just show up now..we’ll see..

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 8:03 am

    I am by no means and expert but it sounds like you need to switch birth control pills. There are so many options that you may just need to try another one. I use the depo shot and have no symptoms at all but I took one before (forgot the name) and it made me just feel BLAH.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I’m on seasonale or the generic of it. I gained 8lbs in the first couple of months I was on it. But like others have said, it could have been me. I wasn’t on a plan at that time. However, not having a period but 4xs a year has (I think) kept my weight down in the long run. Only 4x a year do I have cravings and get all icky and bloated. I think the bc helps me control my hormones better and therefore my emotional eating. However, you MUST find the right dosage and system for you. Each woman is different. The slightest can can affect the bc too. When I started losing weight, I would start spotting a whole week ahead of time. Never happened to me before. When I asked my Dr. she said it was b/c of the fluctuation in my weight. So, as you continue to lose weight, keep this in mind too. Give the hormones some time to get into your system and regulate. About a month, depending on what kind you are on. Give it a full cycle. But we are all not Dr. so………def. ask them if you are concerned.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Hi there,
    I hope you are feeling better soon and it might all be due to the birth control like many have said. Just be careful, last September I kind of went through the same thing (was not on birth control). For about 2 months I was so tired and just kept making excused that I was busy with work and everything else in life. I would get home from work and would just want to nap, but would force myself to get going. Well, one day I woke up and I was just miserable, I thought maybe I have lymes disease ( we live in a very wooded area and we are always out in the woods) So I made an appointment that day with the Dr., found out I had Mono and was just at the end of it going through my system. Needless to say when I found that out, I went home and took a nap.
    Take care and let us all know how you make out.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 9:11 am

    My thyroid levels caused me to feel like that. I was put on synthroid and it made a world of difference. My dosage gets regulated yearly. I was fine and then started having the same symptoms as you. Hope you get everything worked out. Thanks for your blog. I really enjoy it! Merry Christmas!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 10:15 am

    No need to be alarmed, it is your birth control! Birth control is nothing but hormones (or in the words of Aunt Luna from My Big Fat Greek Wedding…Hormonies). The hormones will make you feel sluggish, moody, and funky until your body adjusts to them.

    For this reason I opted for the IUD rather than taking a daily pill. It has little hormonal affect, makes your periods lighter or non exsistent, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting a pill. I would still speak to the doctor just to be sure but if the birth control came into the picture and shortly after the exhaustion did as well, then that’s a pinpoint to me that it’s the BC!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Before you got to the birth control part I wondered if it might be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Might also be work checking into: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002499/

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

    It sounds like you could be anemic. When I am anemic (which happens frequently) I feel lethargic, sometimes almost like I have taken Benadryl. It can make my thinking cloudy and focusing really difficult, and doing anything is like moving through water. I lose motivation and things that should be easy are just a challenge. If you are going to see your doctor anyway, you might ask for a blood test – it is really easy for them to tell if your anemic. In the meantime, you could try taking an iron supplement (which aren’t my favorite) or eating more pork and oatmeal. Spinach is loaded with iron, but I’ve been told that your body can’t absorb it from spinach. I hope you start feeling better!

  • Reply
    Sarah Williams
    December 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Do you take vitamins at all? Try adding some B12 into your daily routine, helps me out a ton!

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm

      I’m with Sarah on this – B12 I think is the culprit. Your B12 balance can be altered when you take Birth Control pills. Have your doctor check your levels – when I felt like you do, I had a B12 deficiency (but I had been on birth control for years at this point). Now I just take B12 vitamins daily (no risk of overdose since they are not a fat soluable vitamin, you just pee out the excess), and I’m good to go!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Kenlie! Are you eating less processed food than you normally would? I’m guessing yes, if you are watching your food intake very carefully. I don’t know what your normal blood pressure is, but for me, when I watch my food well, my sodium intake goes way down. My blood pressure is very low in the first place, so it goes even lower. My personal solution for this situation is to drink a cup of bullion (sp?) cube soup, which ups my sodium in my body, upping my blood pressure, and making me feel more energetic. So if your normal blood pressure is already quite low, this could be the problem and answer.

    🙂 Marion

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    It could be the BC pills. I was on BC for 4 years and it sucked. I tried several different brands and then stopped after I was in the emergency room with painful cysts on my ovaries because of BC. I would recommend reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility to understand your hormones and how it effects the body. There are ways of naturally monitoring your fertility to avoid pregnancy. Its more work… but much healthier since you don’t have all the fake chemicals in your body. Hope you get to feeling better soon!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    It could be seasonal effectiveness disorder, or something like it. I live in the Midwest and though I have lived here all my life I have a harder time adjusting to winter every year. I have less energy, even for things that I normally find fun. After work I just want comfort food, pj’s and my bed.
    I don’t know why winter has such a negative effect on me and I’m still working on how to deal with it in a positive way, but your problems ring true with me.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I can’t speak to BC pills specifically but hormones as a group can do a number on you. It could be so many things: hormones, B vitamin deficiency, iron deficiency, protein deficiency, etc. The only way you’ll know for sure is to have your doctor run some tests. Hang in there. Feeling fatigued sucks.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I just read through the comments. It looks like your readers have touched on most of the possibilities for your recent fatigue. If you can see the doctor as soon as you can. Perhaps you can call the doctor’s office and ask to be sent for lab work prior to your visit.

    I hope you feel better.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I will admit I thought, “she’s pregnant” right off too. Because that is the most tired you will ever be in your life. You might also want to get your vitamin D levels checked. I’ve heard that if it is low it can make you really exhausted.

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm

      Ohh nope..definitely not that…which is good since I’m not ready for anything like that right now..whew..

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    That happens to me too around this time of year- with the shorter days and lack of sun- i live in Michigan. I am not on BC, but it sounds like that could be a reason too… as to the shredding being hard- man i am on week 2 day 2 and i is killing me! mostly in my shoulders from the all the plank stuff, but wow! what a difference from week 1!! here’s hoping you feel better and that week 3 is easier! lol 🙂

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I’d have to agree with the majority of the people who said it’s probably your birth control. That can have a huge affect on our bodies!

    Another thing I would suggest is getting your vitamin levels checked. I had mine checked recently via a muscle test at my chiro because my energy levels were much lower than normal. Turns out I was Vitamin B deficient and my thyroid needs some “help”. I’m on a thyroid complex and Vitamin B pill, and it’s made a difference!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Hey Kenlie!
    Yes, it could be BC. However, I would also suggest testing for Vit. D (blood test). I just got back my results and mine was low. If you look into it can cause quite a few issues. Hope you figure it out soon. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Hey! So sorry to hear of your exhaustion. I have Chronic fatigue syndrome, so I KNOW tired, lol. Anyway, for my energy levels I had to go gluten free. I only have 1-2 servings of grains a day, if that and I get most of my carbohydrates from fruits and veggies and yogurt, protein powder. Get some more protein, try to cut one or more servings of grains out of your diet and see if that helps. I also take a myriad of vitamins. A multi, b-complex, ginseng, apple cider vinegar caplets, vitamin c, and magnesium for chocolate cravings. I’ve also found (for me anyway) that the less grains I eat the less I crave them. I myself am struggling to lose 150 lbs right now, mostly cause I’m a stay at home mom with a 6 month old, and CFS. But I used to be able to polish off an entire bag of cookies in 1-2 days and still want more. Now I look at cookies and my mouth no longer pools with saliva. Just a suggestion! Hope you feel better soon!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I’ll be the elephant in the room…it’s exciting that you need the pills… 🙂

    • Reply
      December 7, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      Hahahahahahaha Cathy….I love you. And yeah, agreed..;)

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    When I do 12 minutes (between 12 and 13 more accurately) it’s totally at a jogging pace more than a walk…but I do a lot of walking/jogging. I can only do 2 12 min miles in a row, but that’s a good workout for someone my size..just saying..

  • Reply
    Nina Patricia
    December 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Hahaha, I’m with Cathy!
    I have to say that using a contraceptive definetly alters my mood. I have been unable to sleep and now realize it was time to change my Nuvaring. Seriously, check with your Doctor anyways.

  • Reply
    Nina Patricia
    December 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    AHHHH I could not delete my post after seeing all my misspelled words!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 12:30 am

    I hope you find some answers with the doc, but I would say that your body has to get used to the new hormone levels that the pill is giving you. I’m sure that within a few weeks’ time, you’ll feel more like yourself. Otherwise, maybe the doctor can give you a different dosage or try a different method – there are so many out there nowadays.

    You DO do a lot, Cal’s right. Maybe this is partly your body’s way of telling you you need to rest a bit more.

    In any case, I hope you find out quickly and start feeling back to your old self soon.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 5:24 am

    I had the same problems combined with horrendous irritability. My Dix suggested the Nuva Ring and it solved everything for me. Multiple friends of mine have had the exact same experience. I can’t recommend it enough!

  • Reply
    December 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Didn’t read all your comments so not sure if someone already mentioned this or not. Have you had your thyroid checked. Get a TSH and FreeT4 done. I recently found out after being totally exhausted for almost a year or more that my thyroid is not functioning properly. I’m totally hypothyroid. That explains a bunch of stuff … lethargic, difficult to lose weight, hair loss, cold feeling and many more. I’ve been started on something that I hope will help me feel better. As far as BC pills go, I’m not sure…. Good luck sorting things out. Feel better soon.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I agree with Heather – I just (like 10 mintues ago) was diagnosed with Hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s Disease. This is where you Immune system attacks the Thyroid. I am on a Rx currently and already feel a HUGE difference. I would talk to the Doc about the Thyroid.

  • Reply
    December 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    could also check your iron and vitamin D levels…

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I didn’t read everyone’s comments, so maybe someone’s said it already: check your thyroid. Fatigue and weight gain are two symptoms of an under functioning thyroid.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I am 18 years old and I’m on the nexplanon. That is the one that is good for 3 years in your arm. I am currently experiencing the laziness that you are as well. On top of that, I have entered a deep depression mode. It is to the point where if I am with even my boyfriend and he tries to joke with me, I lash out and scream at the top of my lungs. I have no control. I have recently added the pill and I’m becoming lazier and lazier. I made my doctors appointment for as soon as they could fit me in so that I could get the surgery for the nexplanon. Along with these, I’ve gained a lot of weight an developed acne (more so than usual). I am always negative and mean. Before the birth controls, I loved to joke around and be crazy with my friends and family. Now, I can’t stand it.
    If I were you, I would go into the doctor right away! I wouldn’t hesitate and wait to go in. You should try a birth control that doesn’t have hormones (if possible for you).
    Hope you get better.

  • Reply
    March 22, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I just went on the pill 4 months ago. I thought i was allergic to my fire wood, anytime I was home i needed a nap. Lost a lot of social time and seriously no desire to work out. I want to stay in my bedroom and do nothing all day on my days off. I used to work out all the time like 5 days a week , line dance 2xs a week, figured it winter blahs. I stopped burning wood, and its officially spring now and i’m probably more tired. I flushed the last two pills down the toilet, and read how BC pills can effect thyroid. Im going to the Drs in four days to check my levels. I’ve gained 5 pounds, but its frightening for me since ill be 40 this year. My BF loves me on them ( im on Ortho LOW e) because im level as far as moods. I think its cuz im too tired to care. LOL

  • Reply
    Shannon Norwood
    June 25, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    I’m going through this now. I started birth control April 2017 (I have been exhausted the whole time) the doctor told me to stop the pill May 24 2018 so I’ve only been off a month but I haven’t seen any changes yet. The only thing that gets me through a day at work is over the counter diet pills that are suppose to give you lots of energy. Did you find out what was wrong? And are you better?

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