Many women reaching their menopause experience problems with their digestion. This is why menopause and constipation usually go hand in hand. While constipation is nothing new even for those women reaching their menopause, it still causes great discomfort. In addition, since food is not well digested, it can lead to the waste of many nutrients in the food consumed.
How does Menopause Cause Constipation?
Menopause comes with a series of hormonal changes and these affect the mood of the woman. This combination of stress and hormonal changes results in constipation. A poor lifestyle could also further alleviate the condition.
Fluctuations in Hormones
During menopause, the level of the hormone estrogen is lower than usual. Estrogen has a direct impact on the level of the hormone cortisol; an increase in the level of estrogen leads to a decrease in the level of cortisol and vice versa. The purpose of cortisol is to regulate the blood sugar levels and a low amount of the hormone usually means that the blood sugar and pressure is actively regulated to healthy levels. However, during menopause, the level of cortisol is higher than usual as a result of the decrease in levels of estrogen.
A decrease in the level of estrogen will also lead to less calm and increased release of adrenalin. This easily leads to digestive problems such as constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, etc.
Effects of Medications
During menopause, a woman experiences a number of symptoms that lead to discomfort. She therefore generally relies on medication to relieve symptoms such as high blood pressure, heart problems, depression and pains. These medications could also lead to constipation.
A lifestyle of eating junk foods, not taking enough water and being generally inactive is also a key suspect when it comes to constipation. Most women will handle the stress and depression that comes with menopause by falling into such a lifestyle and this easily causes constipation.
What Can Be Done to Help?
It can be quite annoying when menopause and constipation occur at the same time. Good news is that many simple remedies can help to relieve the discomfort.
1. Eat Healthy
Healthy eating will involve getting rid of all junk foods and fast foods. Foods high in sugar should also be left out. Instead, opt for foods rich in fiber such as vegetables. This will help you get your digestive system back to work as usual.
2. Take Your Time During Meals
Eating in a hurry is common nowadays as we are always thinking about the deadline. For women in menopause, this can be disastrous as you will not be allowing enough time for food to be completely chewed and thus well digested.
3. Exercise for Menopause and Constipation
Physical exercises can help control constipation. Exercises that involve the lower part of the body have a direct effect on the activity of the colon and could help reduce the severity or even get rid of it completely. The best exercise for this purpose would be swimming. Walking could also be sufficient as you may find that you lack sufficient energy during menopause.
4. Supplement with Magnesium
Magnesium helps tone muscles and this includes the intestinal muscles. If the gut lacks well toned muscles, undigested food will fail to move quickly enough through the gut and this will result in constipation.
Since food alone is an unreliable source of magnesium, it is important to include magnesium supplements in your diet. Being stressed is a good reason to actively consume magnesium, and menopause will usually come with some level of stress. Also, if your regular foods are mostly made up of carbohydrates and sugary foods, you need to take magnesium as it will aid in the production of insulin, which will in turn help control your blood sugar levels.
5. Try Herbal Remedies
Constipation during menopause is mainly attributed to the hormonal changes. Using herbal remedies could help you rebalance your hormones and as a result, control your constipation. Dong Quai, American ginseng, and red clover are some helpful herbs that can help to manage menstrual symptoms such as constipation.
6. Consider Hormone Therapy
As menopause and constipation are closely related, dealing with the hormonal changes could be of some help. This therapy is the artificial replacement of body hormones that are no longer produced in the body after menopause. It can help reduce the severity of menopause symptoms, including constipation.
7. Try Enzymes
Three enzymes are instrumental in menopausal constipation: amylase, protease and lipase. Amylase exists in saliva and the intestines and helps break down carbohydrates. Protease is found in the intestines, pancreas and stomach and helps to break down proteins and some fats. Lipase, found in the pancreas, intestines and stomach, helps to break down fats.