Night sweats and hot flashes, but also stomach problems? Menopause can manifest itself in many ways.
Many women experience a swollen stomach, stomach pain or general stomach problems both before and during menopause. It may very well be that hormones are at work. Some women are more sensitive than others to the hormonal changes and stomach symptoms. This may be the case if you already have problems such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) before the menopause.
Stomach problems during the menopause are thus more likely to be due to hormonal changes than to diet and lifestyle habits, but it can of course be both. During the menopause, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone will go on a roller coaster ride and be imbalanced and gradually decline. The good news is that stomach problems usually disappear once the hormones have stabilised.
The decrease in oestrogen and progesterone can slow down the digestive process. When the digestion process takes longer, more water is reabsorbed into the bloodstream, and this can lead to both constipation and a gassy and swollen stomach.
During the menopause, it is common for the body to retain more fluid than usual and you may have a swollen stomach; some people call it a balloon stomach. To deal with a swollen and bloated belly, you can focus on how your body collects water to reduce the symptoms.
Tips for menopausal women with stomach problems
Here are some tips for menopausal women with stomach problems.
Drink enough water!
Drinking water when I am thirsty even though I feel swollen? YES! By drinking enough water, your body doesn't need to conserve fluids; the fluid balance takes care of itself. If you are also suffering from constipation, regular fluid intake can alleviate it.
Take it easy at mealtimes
Chew properly and eat your meals at a leisurely pace to aid digestion and avoid swallowing air. Bloating and other stomach problems can also be caused by your diet, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on it. Are there any foods that cause more stomach problems? Processed food? Gluten? Sweets? Foods like cabbage or onions?
The gut contains good bacteria that help us with digestion. The effect is controversial but some people find it helps.
Try to reduce stress!
Going through the menopause can be very stressful. The stress hormone cortisol can also cause menopausal symptoms such as abdominal pain and discomfort, diarrhoea and feelings of bloating or gas. And to make matters worse, it can be difficult to control gas (farting) due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. It's a vicious circle: menopausal stomach problems are closely linked to hormonal changes and can make us even more susceptible to stress.
Lifestyle changes such as trying to sleep properly, trying mindfulness and regular exercise can make stress more manageable and your stomach happier.
Keep in mind that if you experience blood in your stools, significant changes in bowel habits, or rapid weight loss, you should always seek medical attention.