Experiencing digestive problems during menopause or perimenopause is a very common complaint. But what causes this uncomfortable sensation? Read on to discover the effect that hormones have on your digestive system.
What Types of Digestive Problems Might I Encounter?
The digestive system is a vital part of the body, as it plays a significant role in the operation and maintenance of the body's mechanisms. As such, if you are in perimenopause, menopause, or approaching these stages, you may encounter some form of upset in your esophagus, stomach, or intestines, though these problems are by no means limited to menopause. Severity will vary from person to person.
What Causes Them during Menopause?
Digestive problems can be triggered by a variety of factors, but during perimenopause and menopause, the most common cause is hormonal imbalance. When a woman's body prepares for menopause - the time when the body permanently loses reproductive function - estrogen production begins to decrease. Normally, this hormone regulates and influences various functions within the body, including digestion, so when levels begin to fluctuate, so too does the function of the body's systems.
When estrogen levels fall during menopause, there is a higher production of cortisol, otherwise known as the “stress-hormone.” When cortisol levels rise, a woman's blood pressure and blood sugar will rise as well, while production of stomach acid will slow down. Consequently, this slows down the process of transporting food from the stomach to the small intestine. These delays are the cause for the majority of digestive problems. In addition to hormone imbalance, digestive problems can be triggered by stress, a poor diet, certain medications, bad eating habits, and excessive consumption of nicotine or alcohol.
What Can I Do to Avoid Digestive Problems?
When trying to treat digestive problems, it is wise to begin with the least intrusive options. Fortunately, an easy method that is readily available is to make lifestyle changes, which can correct the functioning of your digestive system:
Make sure you are exercising. A lack of physical activity will make your system slow down.
Eat foods high in fiber, which can help prevent bloating, constipation, and other digestive problems.
Eat your food slowly and take time to chew it thoroughly. This will make digestion easier.
Drink plenty of water for hydration and a better digestion.
Don't let digestive problems impact your life. By making simple lifestyle changes, you can help your systems operate effectively. Learn more about treatments for digestive problems.
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- Shin, Fukudo. "Role of corticotropin-releasing hormone in irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal inflammation". Journal of Gastroenterology. 2007, Tokyo, Japan.