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Digestive Problems
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Digestive Problems

Digestive Problems 1

The state of the digestive system can be indicative of a woman's overall health. Many women report that digestive problems begin to occur in perimenopause, or the years leading up to menopause. 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. Fortunately, there are treatments that can bring a woman's hormone levels back in balance and relieve her symptoms. Continue reading to learn about digestive problems, their causes, and the different treatment options available.

About Digestive Problems

Women are twice as likely as men to develop digestive problems. Digestive problems - also known as gastrointestinal problems or dysbiosis - can come in many forms, such as constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. 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.

How the digestive system works

Digestive Problems 2

Digestion involves the process of digestive enzymes breaking down food and moving it through the digestive tract. 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 enzymes 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 feces.

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:

  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • A false urge to have a bowel movement

Continue reading to learn more about the causes of digestive problems.

Spotting the Symptoms of Digestive Problems

Digestive problems are an issue for women of all ages and walks of life, although it is undeniable that they are particularly prominent during times of hormonal imbalance like menopause. Learn more about how to recognize their symptoms in order to spot and deal with them effectively.

Changing 5 Habits for Good Digestion

Digestive problems can impact women and men at any point during the course of their lives. Those women going through menopause however, can find that changing hormone levels mean that the condition affects them more than most. For further information and advice check out the following article.

Causes of Digestive Problems

Although there are many potential causes of digestive problems, hormonal imbalance is one of the primary factors during perimenopause. As a woman's body prepares for menopause, the production of estrogen and progesterone fluctuates and eventually decreases. These hormones regulate many different functions in the body. Because of this, women can experience a number of symptoms, including digestive problems.

Hormonal causes of digestive problems

Estrogen Hormones Help Digestion

Cortisol is a "stress hormone" produced by the adrenaline gland and is involved in stress responses. It is known to impede digestion and create digestive problems, among other adverse reactions, such as anxiety. As a result of imbalanced hormone levels during menopause, there may be times with high levels of cortisol in the body.

Estrogen has an effect on the stress hormone, cortisol. When estrogen is too low, levels of cortisol rise, raising blood pressure and blood sugar, and slowing down the release of stomach acid and the movement of digested food into the small intestine. This can create some of the symptoms of digestive problems, such as gas, bloating, and constipation.

Other causes

There are several other possible causes of digestive problems beyond hormonal causes. Some of these other causes are:

Controllable Factors

  • Antibiotics
  • Drug and alcohol consumption
  • Environmental toxins
  • Not chewing food enough
  • Smoking
  • Inactivity

Poor Diet

  • Processed food
  • Lack of fiber
  • Food allergies
  • Too much fatty food

Risk Factors

Some uncontrollable factors can increase a person's susceptibility to digestive problems. These include:

  • Depression
  • Age
  • Genetics

Continue reading to learn difference options available to treat digestive problems.

Top 3 Causes of Digestive Problems in Women

Digestive problems can be an annoying and unpleasant symptom at any point in time, but the frequency of these problems may increase during the menopause transition. Click the following link to learn more about some of the causes and treatments for digestive issues during menopause.

Top 4 Triggers of Menopausal Digestive Problems

Digestive problems are one of the more common symptoms of the menopause transition. This can involve bloating, gas, and constipation. However, there are a variety of solutions for digestive problems. Click on the following link to learn more about digestive problems during the menopause transition.

Digestive Problems Treatments

When exploring treatments for digestive problems, it's important to start with the lowest-risk options and work from there.

Fruits, bread and vitamins

This means that lifestyle changes are generally the best place to begin. For instance, sometimes digestive problems can be alleviated simply by drinking more water or eating a balanced, fiber-rich diet.

Typically, combining lifestyle changes and alternative medicines will produce the best results. Alternative medicines can be different herbs and supplements, or even techniques like biofeedback. When seeking out alternative medicines, it is best to treat symptoms at their source in order to alleviate symptoms in the long term.

Finally, if digestive problems continue, there are different medications that can be explored. While medications can be effective, there are many potential side effects. Because of the risks involved, consulting a trusted medical professional before beginning these treatments is recommended, especially because persistent digestive problems could point to an underlying condition.

Click on the following link to learn specific treatments for digestive problems, which begin with lifestyle changes, move onto alternative medicines, and finally, if those options do not work, medications. The most effective treatments for digestive problems typically combine lifestyle changes and alternative medicines.

Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome during Perimenopause

Irritable bowel syndrome affects 1 in 6 people in the US, and is particularly prevalent among women. There are several strategies to manage it, such as monitoring diet, lowering stress levels, and using herbal remedies.

Top 5 Supplements to Aid Digestive Problems for Women

During menopause, women often experience digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, and heartburn. Herbal supplements may help relieve these issues thanks to their natural compounds that aid the process of digestion. Read more to find out which supplements can help in reducing which digestive problems.

Sources:
  • Fukudo, S. (2007). Role of corticotropin-releasing hormone in irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal inflammation. Journal of Gastroenterology, 42 Suppl 17, 48-51. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17238026
  • Heitkemper, M.M. & Chang, L. (2009). Do Fluctuations in Ovarian Hormones Affect Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Women With Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Gender Medicine, 6(Suppl 2), 152-167. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2009.03.004
  • Office on Women's Health. (2008). The Healthy Woman: A Complete Guide for All Ages. Chapter 20: Digestive Health. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/the-healthy-woman/digestive_health.pdf

General articles

Updated on Sep 05, 2013
10 Diet Tips for Digestive Problems
Many women experience digestive problems during menopause. Eating a balanced diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help a person to resolve some of their digestive woes. Click here for tips to eat and drink your way to a healthier digestive system.
Updated on Aug 19, 2013
How to Choose Fiber-Packed Foods at the Grocery Store
Eating a balanced diet is one of the best ways to positively impact your overall health, including managing menopause symptoms. In order to best manage your symptoms, it is essential to choose foods high in necessary nutrients, such as fiber. Find out how to choose the best sources of fiber to best manage menopause symptoms.
Updated on Jul 10, 2013
Your Wife's Menopause: How to Recognize Her Digestive Problems
Women going through menopause will suffer from a variety of symptoms because of changes to their estrogen levels. One of these that you might notice as her husband is digestive problems. Learn how to help her through this tricky time here.
Updated on Jun 14, 2013
Menopause and Digestion: Tips for Healthy Living
Digestive problems are a very common symptom of menopause. This is because fluctuating estrogen and cortisol levels can cause a number of digestive issues. To treat digestive problems during menopause, women should look to their diet and exercise routine first. This article provides examples of healthy habits that may alleviate digestive trouble during menopause.
Updated on Nov 14, 2011
Digestive Problems: The Benefits of Water
Experiencing digestive problems is no fun for anyone and many sufferers will automatically reach for the medicine cabinet in search of relief. However, there is another more natural way. Water plays a significant role in your digestive health and ensuring you stay hydrated can go a long way to help. Learn more here.