Are women more tired than men? This is a question that's impossible to answer objectively, given that tiredness and fatigue are such subjective qualities.
Nevertheless, in studies that have asked people how fatigue rates as a problem in their lives, significantly more women than men rate it as a major problem. Why is this so? The starting point might be the essential difference between men and women hormones. A woman's life has always been subject to an ancient rhythm.
At the basic level there is the monthly cycle of hormones waxing and waning; at the highest level is a woman's intimate relationship with the production of the next generation. Women often relate their own experience of fatigue to a hormonal or reproductive event.
In some situations such as the arrival of a baby the cause is fairly obvious. Many women's rosy expectations of motherhood are shattered by sleepless nights, painful breasts and mind-numbing fatigue.
Premenstrual women often complain of tiredness and menopause can be a difficult time for some women; about two-thirds experience symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia, lack of concentration, muscular aches and pains and you guessed it fatigue.
But the cause is not always so apparent, or even physical. Some women are in a state of almost perpetual anxiety about the adequacy of their contraception. Worrying about fertility or, perhaps, an abnormal pap smear can also lead to a state of chronic anxiety, leading to a merry-go-round of insomnia, depression and fatigue.
When fatigue is a feature of so-called "women's problems", treatment varies according to the particular problem.
All material is © Media 21 Publishing, and originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of GoodMedicine magazine.