Updated: 2019, Aug 16

Menopause and Digestive Problems: Causes, Risk Factors, Treatments and More

By - Reviewed by CHD Team
Menopause and Digestive Problems

Menopause usually begins around the ages of 45-55 in most women, and can bring with it a wide range of symptoms.

Typically women report hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats, however; there are conditions that may arise outside of those most commonly discussed.

Digestive issues may also arise as a symptom of perimenopause, which is the stage that occurs prior to the completion of the menopause process.

How The Digestive System Works?

Digesting food begins with the first bite of food you take. As you chew the food, saliva is produced, helping to move the food down as you swallow.

It moves into the stomach for storage, while digestive juices are produced and then mix with the food. This mixture is moved through the intestines into the small intestine which absorbs the nutritional elements and passes them through your body much as fuel through an automobile.

The contents are gradually moved into the large intestine, colon, and then exit the body as fecal matter.

Definition of Menopause Digestive Problems

The digestive system as any other biological process involves the production of body fluids through a hormonal exchange.

An upset in the balance of the body chemistry that regulates these processes can cause a disturbance that interferes with normal system operations.

Menopause is a stage in which the hormones of the body can become severely out of balance. The symptoms of digestive problems can include diarrhea and or constipation, cramps, gas, bloating, or the urge to have a bowel movement when you don’t actually have to go.

These symptoms can become very uncomfortable and troubling. Dysbiosis, or digestive issues can result from the hormonal imbalances associated with menopause when this is a causal factor.

Is Menopause Causing You to Have Digestive Problems?

Hormonal imbalances in the body can lead to the overproduction of cortisol, which is manufactured by the adrenaline gland.

Too much cortisol in the system has been known to interfere with digestive processes. The decrease in estrogen production generally results in the overproduction of cortisol.

This slows down the amount of acids available for digestion. When the body’s systems do not produce enough of these vital fluids, the digestive system is impacted.

The foods and fluids consumed are not processed in the usual way and this is what can bring on the symptoms discussed earlier.

Risk of Menopause Digestive Problems

While not all women who are going through the menopause stage will have digestive problems, or digestive problems that are a direct result of perimenopause, the risks are increased during this phase.

Hormonal imbalances up the odds of experiencing dysbiosis as a symptom of menopause.

Menopause Digestive Problem Treatments

As with most symptoms of menopause, there are a variety of treatments available. Now that you understand how the digestive process works, and why menopause can become a risk factor, there are simple lifestyle changes that you can make to help prevent or lessen these disruptions in your body.

Since high levels of cortisol can cause digestive issues, work to keep these levels down. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants which can help raise your stress levels.

In addition, try to avoid as many stressful situations as possible. Exercise is also recommended as it not only helps to keep your body in good condition but can help alleviate the levels of stress chemicals in your body.

Drinking plenty of water is encouraged, along with a healthy and balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber. Eating foods that are rich in phytoestrogens may also help to get your hormonal balance back on track.

Phytoestrogens are like a natural replacement for estrogen in the system. Foods that contain these compounds are soy products and wild yams.

There are a host of helpful vitamin supplements on the market that can help to keep your body’s nutritional level in balance. Good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices are key in maintaining good digestive health.

If these treatment plans don’t take care of the issues, your physician may also offer traditional treatment plans.

Depending upon the nature and severity of your symptoms, he or she may recommend medications, or in extreme cases, surgery to help address digestive issues. These are more rare cases, however.

Read Also: Menopause And Bloating: What Is The Possible Solution To This Problem?

Conclusion

The process of menopause can indeed bring about symptoms of digestive problems. Although this is not one of the most common symptoms, it does happen, and women need to know what to do if it does.

Understanding how the digestive system works, and the impact that menopause can have upon the system can be helpful in making lifestyle changes that can alleviate digestive issues.

There are a variety of treatments available including abstaining from stress-inducing foods and beverages, taking natural supplements, maintaining a healthy diet with exercise, and in more extreme cases, consulting with the family doctor for more options.

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Evan Jensen, CPT

Evan Jensen is a renowned American Nutritionist, Diet Expert and health writer. He has a master’s degree in journalism, with more

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