The digestive system is an all-important part of the body that can determine the overall health of a woman. Many women report that digestive problems begin to occur in the years leading up to menopause, called perimenopause. Not only can digestive problems cause discomfort, but they can also lead to more serious health concerns.
Hormonal imbalance during perimenopause 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 menopausal symptoms.
What are digestive problems?
Women are twice as likely as 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 as feaces.
What are the symptoms of digestive problems?
There are different symptoms of digestive problems that can indicate different causes. Below is a list of some of the common symptoms of digestive problems:
- A false urge to have a bowel movement.
What causes digestive problems?
Although there are many potential causes of digestive problems, there’s a high likelihood that digestive problems experienced as menopause approaches have a lot to do with hormonal imbalance. As a woman’s body prepares for menopause, production of her hormones, particularly oestrogen 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 reaction, 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.
Oestrogenp has an effect on the stress-hormone cortisol. When oestrogen is too low, levels of cortisol rise, raising blood pressure and blood sugar, and 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 › Bad food combinations (heavy starched proteins).
- Processed food abuse
- 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:
- Drinking alcohol excessively