Menopause and Gastrointestinal Problems: Not Fun

Menopause is a time of hormonal change. Our bodies naturally produce less estrogen as we age. This causes a number of problems including weight gain, hot flashes, mood swings, and decreased sex drive.

It’s long been known that menstruation causes an increase in histamine, which leads to increased sensitivity to allergens. It’s the same with women going through menopause.

The increase in estrogen and production of histamine increases making women more sensitive to food and creating gastrointestinal issues.

Menopause And digestive Problems

Histamine is a chemical made by your immune system. Your immune system releases histamine when you’re exposed to allergens or pathogens. This triggers an allergic reaction and causes symptoms such as swelling, itching, and hives.

Histamine also plays a role in brain health, immunity, digestion, and blood pressure regulation. Histamine is produced by the body naturally.

But we also get histamine from certain foods. Foods high in histamine include eggs, tomatoes, cheese, chocolate, beer, wine, and some types of meat.

Histamine breaks down into something called methylhistamine. Methylhistamine causes us to feel tired and sleepy.

And if you have too much methylhistamine in your body, it can make you feel sick. Mast cells have receptors for both estrogens and progestins.

Estrogen increases histamine release by binding to the mast cell receptor. Histamine influences estrogen production by signaling ovarian cells. Histamine can induce estrogen synthesis.

Estrogen dominance, such as during menopause, causes a lot of problems for women including headaches, migraines, mood swings, weight gain, and even infertility.

Some women also suffer from histamine intolerance and have increased pain and discomfort during the luteal period when estrogen is highest.

They also tend to have more severe symptoms during the premenstrual phase when progesterone is lower than normal. A low-histamine diet during menopause is advisable to help them feel better and reduce symptoms.

With estrogen and histamine running the show, menopause can also cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal problems – but how does estrogen do this?

Estrogen

Estrogen is an important female sex hormone. It helps regulate the menstrual cycle and plays an essential role in reproduction. Estrogen also affects mood and behavior.

Low levels of estrogen may lead to depression and anxiety. High levels of estrogen can cause menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes.

With the calming effect of estrogen missing from the body, adrenalin can also be triggered. This switches off the digestive process.

As we age, there is also a slowing down of the digestive tract’s processes and our enzymatic production also drops.

Estrogen helps reduce stress hormones, which makes us feel calm. When we lose our estrogen, we start to feel stressed out. This leads to increased anxiety, which causes us to feel less calm than usual.

All these things put stress on the gastrointestinal processes.

Menopause is a natural part of women’s lives and should be seen as an opportunity to relax and enjoy life more.

However, It is important to learn how to cope with the physical changes that come along with it.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy, meditation and massage can help you deal with the stress of menopause.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Symptoms

A range of gastrointestinal problems can occur at this time. Gas builds up causing bloating, and flatulence. Food is often not fully digested causing constipation. Menopause can also cause nausea. Nausea is caused by fluctuating hormones.

Fecal incontinence may occur temporarily during an episode of diarrhea, but for many menopausal women, fecal incontinence can be chronic or recurrent.

People with this condition are unable to control the urge to defecate, which comes on so abruptly that they do not reach the bathroom in time. This is referred to as urge incontinence.

The second type of fecal incontinence occurs when people are unaware of the need to pass stools. This is referred to as passive incontinence.

In addition, people with fecal incontinence often experience other bowel problems, such as constipation, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, fistulas, diverticulitis, and proctitis.

Gut Motility

Gut motility refers to the speed at which food moves along the digestive tract. A slow gut motility causes gas production and hard stools. Women going through menopause may experience slower gut motility due to the hormone changes.

Liver

We also know that the falling hormone levels can cause stress to the liver. This stress causes the production of bile. Bile helps break down fat. But when liver function decreases, the body may experience nausea or bloating.

Are there ways to alleviate these problems common to women in their later years?

Treatments and Gastrointestinal Symptom Control

Thankfully there are ways to help ease these problems. Ginger helps reduce nausea. Sea bands or peppermint teas can also help. It may be that you should eat bland food for a period of time whilst you get symptoms under control.

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Gastrointestinal problems during menopause are all symptoms of IBS that can develop during this time. You should check in with your doctor if your IBS symptoms return or worsen.

Also, if you have experienced symptoms before, but find that your symptoms have come back or worsened, it may mean that you need to update your treatment plan.

Your healthcare provider may analyze your symptom severity and determine whether you qualify for an official diagnosis. If you think your IBS symptoms may be a sign of something more serious make an appointment to talk with your doctor.

Don’t diagnose yourself as you might have something else going on.

It’s important to look after your body during menopause especially if you experience gastrointestinal discomfort. You should try and exercise regularly and eat well.

Menopausal women should eat smaller meals, chew them slowly, drink lots of water, and avoid fatty or fried foods. Exercise helps to keep the digestive system moving and relieves constipation.

You should also try to take time to relax by taking a bath, going out for a walk, catching up with friends, or even watching TV. You could even try alternative therapies such as hypnotherapy to help relieve your symptoms.

Phytoestrogens

Natural supplements and the right food are very useful during menopause. For example, Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that act like hormones in the body.

They can be found in foods like soy, flaxseed, oats, and vegetables. They make a great addition to the diet and help control hormonal fluctuation.

Magnesium

Magnesium for digestive issues

Magnesium is particularly beneficial for menopause symptoms. Magnesium helps relax muscles and relieve pain and helps support bone health and keeps your immune system in check. In addition, it regulates your heart rate and supports digestion.

Magnesium is found in leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, oats, fish, tomatoes, figs, avocado, banana, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate. Magnesium supplements work great for menopause as they ensure you are getting enough of this vital nutrient.

Probiotics

Friendly bacteria are essential for health. When levels drop during menopause, digestion suffers and elimination slows down. This affects the body’s ability to fight off disease.

Beneficial bacteria can help digest our food and keep our guts healthy. Fermented foods like miso, kombucha and sauerkraut are great sources of prebiotics. Probiotic supplements are also recommended.

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High-fiber foods include lentils, black and white beans, artichokes and peas. Whole grains are also high in fiber. You should also take some fiber supplements to help keep things moving.

Natural Remedies

Other natural elements include ginger tea or peppermint tea which are good herbal remedies for menopausal symptoms.
Digestive enzyme supplements help menopausal women who suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as bloating.

Vegan digestive enzymes reduce trapped gas in the stomach and relieve pain. Digestive enzymes help you digest your food better. You should take them before meals to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients.

Liver Support

Your liver plays an important role in the detoxification of the body. You need to take care of it properly. Drink lots of fresh vegetable juice and eat plenty of cleansing foods as well as supplements designed to support liver function.

Exercise

Exercise for gastrointestinal issues

Walking helps digestion and boosts energy. Going for walks in the sun gives you vitamin D, reduces stress and improves sleep.
HIIT is an acronym for High-Intensity Interval Training.

This type of training involves performing short bursts of very intense activity followed by rest periods. You should try to do this kind of workout at least 3 times per week. This will support digestion and help your system work more efficiently.

How Can You Tell If Your Symptoms Are A Normal Response To Changes In The Body, Or Something To Be Worried About?

Ovarian cancer symptoms can mimic those of gastrointestinal problems. You should see your doctor if you have such symptoms numerous times a month.

Digestive problems can be difficult to deal with and cause depression. Cutting back on activities because of fear of social embarrassment due to digestive issues can lead to isolation.

Carry some medication to ease symptoms or eat light meals when out with friends. Your friends may also have the same fears as you. Digestive problems can be distressing so making adjustments in your diet can help you feel better.

Conclusion

There is a range of conventional medicine products available to help with the different aspects of bowel problems – but be cautious as some of these medicines are associated with side effects.

Your doctor or pharmacist may suggest some products to help with your condition. It is important to discuss any worries or concerns with your doctor.

You should speak to your doctor if you feel your condition is getting worse or if it is causing other problems.

Eating well is important. Be sure to eat a healthy diet. Drink plenty of water. Don’t skip meals. Take probiotics daily. Get some exercise. See a doctor if you need to. With effort and careful planning, you can sail through menopause with minimal stress.