Menopause

Perimenopause and IBS

woman touching stomach having bowel issues

Entering the realm of menopause can be tumultuous for women. It’s a time of major change that signifies the end of fertility, but also brings on pesky symptoms that can be tough to manage. The infamous hot flashes, mood swings and stomach issues have all been known to occur during this transition period known as perimenopause. And if you’re one of the many women who struggles with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you might find that your symptoms take a turn for the worse during this time. But don’t fret – you’re not alone in this challenging journey.

Is IBS common in perimenopause?

Menopause isn’t the culprit behind IBS, but the decrease in estrogen and progesterone during perimenopause could make symptoms worse. The truth about IBS and menopause in women is a little mixed. Some research suggests that postmenopausal women are less likely to suffer from IBS than their premenopausal peers. A unique study found that IBS cases actually decreased after 45 years of age amongst women compared to male participants. Despite this positive news, another recent study reveals that women between the ages of 45 and 60 are seeking treatment for more serious IBS and IBS-like afflictions.

Gastrointestinal distress and IBS symptoms are no laughing matter, especially during the menopausal years. Hormonal fluctuations, pesky hot flashes, and other unmentionable symptoms can wreak havoc on your digestive system. And let’s not forget about stress – it can add fuel to the fire and lead to even more unpleasant changes in your gut.

Decrease in Bile Production

Diet – Give your sensitive digestion a break by making smart choices. Skip the greasy, sweet, boozy and bubbly stuff, and opt for gut-friendly goodies. Embrace probiotics like yogurt and chow down on fibre-rich fruits, veggies, whole grains, and beans. When dealing with IBS, too much fat can lead to constipation and diarrhoea. Manage your fat intake by cooking food at home, reducing take-out food and fast food, and reducing consumption of packaged foods.
Sleep – Don’t snooze on the power of a solid night’s rest! Catching enough Z’s gives your body the fuel it needs to thrive and can also help soothe pesky IBS symptoms that tend to flare up with stress.
Herbal remedies – Soothe your stomach troubles with natural solutions. For ages, people have sought relief from indigestion with the power of herbs. No need for chemical cures when chamomile, anise, fennel, ginger, and peppermint can work their magic just as effectively today.
Reduce stress – Stress and cortisol levels can actually worsen IBS symptoms. And don’t even get us started on how cortisol can boost estrogen levels, fuelling those triggers even more. It’s no secret that the brain and intestines are closely linked – that’s why stress can cause some serious tummy troubles. Engaging in practices such as yoga and meditation can help ease both your mind and your body.
Eat smaller meals – Revamp your eating habits and get in sync with your body’s natural hunger cues. Eating smaller, more frequent meals will ease the burden on your digestive system, helping it do its job with ease. Scale back on the urge to snack aimlessly or overindulge at buffet spreads, and instead train yourself to recognize genuine hunger and fullness signals.
Limit alcohol – Perimenopause and an overindulgence in alcohol don’t mix, and here’s why: Booze can spike estrogen levels and intensify IBS symptoms. Plus, it throws off your restorative REM sleep, leaving you feeling bleary-eyed and prone to unhealthy choices the next day. Replace your night-time wine or cocktail with a mocktail, non-alcoholic beer or caffeine-free tea!
Increase fibre intake – Enjoy a happier digestive system with the right amount of fiber. Whether you struggle with diarrhea or constipation, finding the ideal intake can make all the difference. Experts recommend getting at least 25g of fiber daily, and increasing intake of insoluble fiber, found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds, is particularly beneficial for women dealing with constipation. If you’re dealing with diarrhea, adding soluble fiber to your diet can be a game changer. This type of fiber, which can be found in foods like oats, legumes, flaxseed, and certain fruits and veggies, helps to form stools.
Try hypnotherapy – Relieve IBS symptoms and reduce hot flashes with hypnotherapy. Discover the safe and effective treatment options available to you, including IBS-focused hypnotherapy apps.

Conclusion

The hormonal changes during perimenopause can amplify common IBS symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and pain. But fear not – there are natural remedies you can try at home. From making dietary adjustments to incorporating exercise and prioritizing quality sleep, these methods can bring relief. Don’t forget to consult a Registered Dietitian for personalized guidance. If needed, discuss the option of prescription medication with your doctor.

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