As menopause sets in, numerous changes in the body will occur. One that is common but isn’t commonly discussed is a change in bowel function.
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Menopause is a fact of life for women, although it’s certainly one that most would like to escape. While the prospect of saying a permanent goodbye to menstrual periods is enticing, the hormonal changes that occur during this phase of life can trigger some very difficult to manage changes that bring with them a huge range of side effects including things like irritability, mood swings, hot flashes , and insomnia. But along with the well-known symptoms of menopause, there are also a large number of different issues that aren’t as commonly discussed. Bowel changes, for example, happen to many menopausal women but aren’t mentioned as frequently as their less-embarrassing but no less embarrassing companions.
The bowel goes through a number of changes during menopause, and each of them can impact the body’s digestive process differently. Here are a few of the big bowel changes that may play a part in your life during menopause.
- Weakening of the Muscles – This is one of the main bowel changes that women will have to deal with. When menopause occurs, the pelvic muscles begin to lose their strength and resilience. What this means to women is that they won’t work quite as well as they once did, which can lead to slow digestion, IBS, and constipation.
- Hormonal Effects – The body produces estrogen and progesterone, and these two hormones have a big impact on digestion. Estrogen helps speed up digestion while progesterone slows it down somewhat. When the hormone levels are in perfect balance, everything works as it should. But menopause causes reduced production of hormones – particularly estrogen – and when this occurs, the bowels won’t work the way they should.
- Strain from Weight – Weight gain is a common symptom of menopause, and when it occurs during this age much of the weight begins to collect in the abdominal area and around the organs. This places increased pressure on the bowels which will make it more difficult for the body to manage bowel function.
- Diabetic Nerve Damage – When menopause sets in, the body often has trouble managing blood sugar levels properly. This could lead to diabetes, which in turn could lead to nerve damage. If that nerve damage occurs in the bowels then incontinence and other digestive issues may occur.
- Dehydration and Vitamin Deficiencies – Menopause can take a heavy toll on the body, and when it occurs many women suddenly become dehydrated and suffer from a lack of certain vitamins and minerals. These vitamin deficiencies and dehydration can make it difficult for the bowels to work properly and may trigger various bowel changes within the body.
Managing one’s diet properly is one of the big keys for controlling bowel changes during menopause. There’s no way to know exactly how “The Change” will affect you until it occurs, but taking steps to ensure that your digestive system works properly is important and will have a big impact on your overall health and well-being as you move through menopause.