Menopause Symptoms – Digestive Problems
The digestive system is an all-important part of the body that can determine the overall health of an individual. Many women report that digestive problems begin to occur during early menopause. Not only can digestive problems cause discomfort, but they can also lead to more serious health concerns.
Hormonal imbalance during early menopause is one of the primary causes of digestive problems for women between the ages of 45 and 55. Luckily there are treatments that can bring a woman´s hormones back in balance and relieve her digestive problems and other menopause symptoms.
Women are twice as likely then men to develop digestive problems. Digestive problems, also known as gastrointestinal problems or dysbiosis, in women prior to menopause can come in an array of forms. Each form has to do with how food is broken down once consumed. Because the digestive system is a complex function of the body, issues can arise anywhere along the trip that food takes, from consumption to expulsion.
How the Digestive System Works
Digestion involves mixing food with digestive juices, moving it through the digestive tract, and breaking down large pieces of food into smaller pieces. Digestion begins in the mouth, with the act of chewing and swallowing, and is completed in the small intestine.
Once food or liquid is swallowed, the stomach then takes over by storing the food and liquid, mixing the food, liquid and digestive juice produced by the stomach, and finally emptying the contents slowly into the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. The mixture then moves to the large intestine and colon and waits to be expelled.
Symptoms of Digestive Problems
There are different symptoms of digestive problems that can indicate different causes. Below are some of the common symptoms:
- A false urge to have a bowel movement.
Causes of Digestive Problems
Although there are many potential causes of digestive problems, there´s a high likelihood that digestive problems experienced during early menopause has a lot to do with it. As a woman´s body prepares for menopause, production of her hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, begin to decrease. The hormones regulate many different functions of the body, and when their levels are altered prior to menopause, she may experience some or all of the menopause symptoms, including digestive problems.
Hormonal Causes of Digestive Problems
Cortisol is a “stress hormone” produced by the adrenaline gland involved in stress responses. It is known to impede digestion and create digestive problems, among other adverse reactions, such as anxiety and panic disorders. As a result of imbalanced hormones during menopause, there is a high level of cortisol in a woman´s body.
Estrogen has an inhibitive affect on the stress-hormone cortisol. When estrogen is too low, levels of cortisol rise, raising blood pressure and blood sugar, slowing down the release of stomach acid, and the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine. This can create some of the symptoms of digestive problems such as gas, bloating and constipation.
There are several other possible causes of digestive problems beyond hormonal causes. Some of these other causes are:
- Environmental toxins
- Eating habits – Not chewing food enough and/or bad food combinations?(heavy starched proteins)
- Poor diet – Processed food, lack of fiber, lack of raw food, food allergies, junk food
Some activities or factors can enhance a person´s susceptibility to digestive problems. Below is a list of risk factors:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking alcohol excessively