Most women experience menopause between their mid-40s and early 50s. During this time, fertility decreases because the production of sex hormones decreases. As a result, ovulation, and thus menstrual bleeding, become more irregular until they eventually stop altogether.
This stage of change leaves almost no woman untouched. Many report hot flashes, mood swings, or trouble sleeping. What is less talked about is digestive problems such as bloating, abdominal pain or heavier bowel movements. In the following text, we will explain why such gastrointestinal problems occur and what you can do about them.
Why do menopausal women suffer from indigestion?
Hormones and the gut? Few of us have this symbiosis directly on the screen. But yes, the gut is not only responsible for digesting food and delivering nutrients to the body, but also for producing and releasing hormones. But what causes indigestion?
The female hormone is to blame Estrogen, which is also responsible for the release of the stress hormone cortisol. During menopause, estrogen decreases. Result: Cortisol concentration increases and adrenaline is released more easily. An increased concentration of cortisol can in turn damage the digestive system, as digestive functions are significantly reduced and this can lead to gas, abdominal pain, constipation or hard stools.
But two other hormones are also up to mischief. And that’s what we’re talking about Progesterone and prostaglandins. Progesterone is also a female sex hormone that declines during menopause. Its muscle-relaxing effect can slow down the intestinal tract and lead to constipation and bloating. Then there are prostaglandins. On the contrary, they have a stimulating effect on the muscles. If the mashed food is transported too quickly, stomach cramps, frequent bowel movements or even diarrhea can sometimes occur.
During menopause, hormones constantly rise and fall until they balance out. Therefore, women may experience more digestive problems during this transitional period.
Eat a healthy diet if you have indigestion
Gastrointestinal problems cause discomfort and can significantly impair the quality of life. For this reason, you should pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet, especially during the menopause, and take a closer look at some eating habits. Even small changes can make a big difference to your well-being:
- Eat a high-fiber diet by eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or legumes every day. Fiber is essential for your gut flora and supports digestion.
- To support your digestive system, you should drink plenty of fluids every day. According to the recommendations of the German Nutrition Society, you should drink at least 1.5 liters of fluids in the form of water and unsweetened tea.
- Chew each bite thoroughly and eat slowly. This means you swallow less air and put less strain on your intestines.
- Our intestines need movement to function properly. Therefore, try to include as much exercise as possible in your daily life, and perhaps always take a short walk after a meal.