Definition of Menopause Digestive Problems
Menopause digestive problems refer to discomfort and disruptions in the body’s normal digestive process that occur due to hormone changes in women during midlife. Menopause digestive problems may include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, cramping or abdominal pain.
Menopause digestive problems can range from constipation and hard, dry stools to diarrhea, loose stools and incontinence.
Women may also experience menopause digestive problems such as bloating, due to excess gas and water retention. Pain may be generalized, or include cramping, tightness and “fullness.” As a result, some women experience unnecessary weight gain – and some women find themselves losing appetite as a result of abdominal problems that worsen after meals.
In some cases, women can even experience abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting due to digestive problems that occur during menopause. Sleep may be interrupted by indigestion or abdominal discomfort. Some women may even experience accidents.
Symptoms of Menopause Digestive Problems
Feelings overly full
Risks of Menopause Digestive Problems
Women can experience difficulties on the job, in intimate relationships and in daily living when their lives are disrupted by digestive problems during menopause. Some women find themselves afraid to leave the house, for fear of a sudden onset of symptoms. Other women find their self confidence rattled by weight gain bloating.
Women may find their eating patterns, appetite and even sleep disrupted by digestive problems, as they grow reluctant to eat or battle insomnia due to abdominal discomfort. Menopause digestive problems can have psychological and emotional effects as well, such as irritability, lowered self image, anxiety and even depression if left untreated.
Causes of Menopause Digestive Problems
Digestive disorders that occur during menopause all share a common cause: hormonal imbalance that occurs during menopause. As estrogen levels descend, the body produces higher levels of a stress hormone known as cortisol, causing elevated sugar and blood pressure levels. In response, vital stomach acids such as bile decrease, leading to constipation and bloating. When estrogen and progesterone levels suddenly rise, women can experience diarrhea as muscles in the colon relax in response.
Women may also experience excess gas during menopause, leading to feelings of fullness and pain, particularly after eating. Some women will also experience bloating due to water retention that occurs as hormones fluctuate during menopause. Women may also experience sensory sensitivity and chronic migraines, leading to vomiting and nausea.
Menopause Digestive Problems Treatments
Because menopause digestive problems occur due to falling or fluctuating hormone levels, successful treatment will involve the reestablishment of proper hormone levels in the body. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) offers one means of establishing hormonal balance through the outside introduction of hormones. However, because of severe health risks associated with HRT – and side effects that can actually make certain digestive symptoms of menopause worse – many women seek out alternative treatments for menopause digestive problems.
If reestablishing hormonal balance does not resolve digestive issues, physicians may suggest digestive health tests or exploratory surgery to attempt to resolve digestive problems that many not be related to menopause. In rare cases, digestive problems could be a result of specialized conditions such as bowel obstruction or digestive tract issues, and would need to be treated through medications, or even surgery.
Menopause Digestive Problems FAQs
Q: After balancing my hormones, what lifestyle changes may help prevent menopause digestive problems?
A: While most women find that digestive problems disappear once their hormonal balance has been restored, lifestyle choices can help, as well. Stress reduction, quitting smoking, avoiding excess alcohol and getting daily exercise can all help prevent digestive problems during menopause. Additionally, incorporation of plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber and low-sodium, low-fat and low-sugar foods to your diet can also help aid digestion.