The menopause comes with a lot of changes in a woman’s body. Some are minor, while others can feel much more debilitating. Together, it makes for a stressful period in any person’s life who may be going through these phases.
It also makes it difficult to tell what is a symptom of Menopause, and what might be an actual health issue that requires more attention and care than menopause already does.
For example, constipation is an issue that can often be attributed to many health conditions, from IBS to hypocalcaemia, to even diabetes. However, it’s also a symptom that many people who are going through or have gone through the menopause have also felt.
So, which is it? Is constipation another symptom of this natural process? Or is it something that requires a little more outside help with treating?
Well, that’s what this guide is here to answer. Alongside answering this main question, we’ll also discuss some of the other main symptoms that people are likely to experience when going through this transitional period in many women’s lives.
What Is The Menopause?
To start with, we should probably give a brief rundown as to what exactly menopause is in the first place, and what it entails.
As a woman or person that produces estrogen gets older, their body will start to make less and less of it. As estrogen levels drop, this also affects the menstrual cycle of the person, where the timing and length of their periods will change. Still happening, but less frequently, and often for different lengths.
After a certain point, after a woman hasn’t had a menstrual cycle for at least a year, they are functionally in menopause. However, the symptoms of menopause can happen before and after, in the perimenopausal and post-menopausal periods, respectively.
Is Constipation A Symptom Of Menopause?
So, with the basics out of the way, we should probably answer the main question that we asked at the beginning of this guide: Can constipation be a symptom of menopause?
Well, the simple answer is yes. Constipation is one of the many symptoms that you may experience during the peri, post and menopausal periods.
As the pelvic floor weakens through menopause, a person’s digestive tract also starts to be effective. Processes that happened before, controlled by levels of cortisol in the body, are changed in their speed and effectiveness, which includes bowel movement.
Add to that the change in oestrogen that comes with menopause, which can also affect how the digestive system processes waste and you have a perfect storm for getting constipation.
Is It Common?
So, we know how someone going through menopause may develop constipation at some points in the cycle. But how common exactly is it to experience constipation while going through menopause?
Well, the answer to this is also yes. Most women will experience constipation during menopause. It might be more bizarre for someone to not experience any feelings of constipation!
However, given that as we age, we start to experience more issues with our intestinal and digestive systems anyway, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Other Symptoms Of Menopause
Outside of just constipation, there are a lot of other types of bowel or digestive problems that are also considered symptoms of menopause and the cycles before and after it.
Rather annoyingly, menopause symptoms can include both extremes of bowel movement issues. Not only can it cause constipation, (see also: Can Constipation Cause Urinary Problems?)it can cause diarrhoea too.
In the same way that the change of estrogen in the body can cause the cortisol levels to change, causing muscles in and around the colon to loosen, causing diarrhoea movements in the bowels.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Like constipation and diarrhoea that we’ve already covered, irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. That change in the body’s estrogen and cortisol levels can cause pain to develop in your abdominal area and around your intestinal region.
Bloating & Heartburn
Those different levels of cortisol in your body are also responsible for the amount of bloating and discomforting full feeling that you may be experiencing if you are around the age that menopause occurs.
The change in estrogen levels can cause how your body retains gases and water to dramatically change, resulting in that bloated feeling that you may have, even if you haven’t eaten or drank anything.
While not related to incontinence or the other symptoms that we’ve been talking about, it is also worth mentioning that menopause can also cause (see also: Does Menopause Cause Itchy Skin?)the joints around the body to start aching more.
Once again, it is tied back to the levels of estrogen in your body, which also help manage how you experience pain.
Ways To Treat/Manage Menopause Symptoms
So, what are the best ways to help treat this problem of constipation that your body is going through? Stopping or reversing menopause (see also: How To Reverse Thinning Hair After Menopause)is out of the question, so what can be done to help treat these issues?
One of the best things that you can do to help aid constipation is to start doing more physical activity.
The extra movement that your abdomen and lower body will be doing is the perfect way to help loosen up stool movement and allow your stools to pass a little more normally, even with the changing cortisol and estrogen levels in your body.
Eating More Fibre
One of the key nutrients that can help make stool movement a little smoother, fibre is a necessary part of all diets, no matter your age.
If you find that you start to experience both diarrhoea and constipation more during menopause or the period surrounding it, this is a simple solution that you can use in your diet to make life easier.
Frequently Asked Questions
So, as you can see, constipation isn’t just a symptom of menopause, but it is also one of the most common issues that you’ll have to deal with too. Which, let’s be honest, does suck a lot.
Still, with some of the solutions that we’ve covered, you’ll be able to manage this issue yourself a little better now!