Menopause Constipation

By Dr. Jeeno Jayan, MBBS

Menopause constipation

A healthy gut processes food correctly and efficiently, while we gain as much energy as possible from what we consume. 

However, when menopause comes, many women begin to experience problems with their digestive system. This problem is primarily because of to a number of hormonal imbalances.

Worrying about the symptoms of menopause, extra stress and unhealthy livings may further add to the constipation problem.

Findings of a study

In a study of 100 post menopausal women, about 37% of them experienced frequent constipation. They experienced:

  • Excessive straining upon defection (around 91.9% of constipated women)
  • A feeling of incomplete bowel emptying (83.8% of constipated women)
  • Firm or lumpy stools (81.1% of constipated women)
  • A maximum of three or less bowel movements a week (62.2% of constipated women)

What does constipation feel like

Women who are going through menopause may experience constipation at the beginning, middle or final stages of menopause. In whatever stage it shows up, constipation for women in menopause generally has the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fewer or infrequent bowel movements 
  • Harder, drier and smaller stools that tend to be difficult to pass out
  • A sluggish or bloated feeling

  • A feeling of incomplete emptying during defecation
  • Extreme and excessive straining during bowel movements
  • The presence of blood on stools

Why Constipation Occurs During Menopause

1.  Hormonal Imbalances

Estrogen is a hormone that has a general affect on cortisol. It is a kind of stress hormone present in the body.

When estrogen is high, the cortisol hormone is reduced in order to keep blood sugar and blood pressure at a normal level.

When a woman is going through menopause, she usually has a decreased level of estrogen. This in turn affects the level of cortisol.

Adrenalin will also be affected and triggered through declining estrogen levels. Unfortunately, there isn't another hormone available to produce the needed calming effect. In the end, the digestive system will be affected. 

Imbalanced hormones can cause several problems in the digestive system, including:

  • Gas build up, causing bloating
  • Constipation caused by foods passing through the digestive tract without being fully digested
  • Acid erodes the mucous lining, triggering abdominal pain and indigestion

Hormonal imbalances may be overcome in a number of ways.

  • By taking a daily magnesium supplement to daily diet. Magnesium pulls water back into the colon and keeps stool from drying out.

    Since it is a mineral supplement, it is generally suitable for long term with no side effects.

  • Digestive enzymes are key to proper digestion. These can be beefed up by taking acidophilus, herbal tonics, digestive enzymes, and by making sure that your food is well chewed.

    The body uses digestive enzymes to digest food so that it can be stored in the muscles and liver, ready for when it is needed. When taken after each meal, digestive enzymes help to keep the stomach working so that menopause constipation is not such a problem.

2.  Medications taken for menopausal symptoms

Most of the medications that minimize menopausal symptoms can cause constipation. These medications include:

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Cardiovascular medications
  • Iron and calcium supplements
  • Tranquilizers and anti-depressants
  • Pain killers

3.  Additional causes of constipation in menopausal women:

  • A slowing of the intestinal tract activity due to age

  • An aging liver that has lost some functionality

  • Unhealthy eating habits which include a good amount of fast foods and processed foods

  • An inactive lifestyle 

  • Inadequate water intake

Remedies for Menopausal Constipation

A magnesium supplement can prove effective in solving constipation problems during menopause. 

Magnesium helps draw water into the colon, resulting in:

  • A moist, soft stool

  • A slippery stool

  • A bulkier stool, which can help to prompt an urge to go without cramping

Magnesium is a mineral supplement.

Since 80% of Americans don’t get enough in their diet, taking supplemental magnesium may even produce other health benefits

Other ways that menopausal women can reduce constipation

  • Become more physically active

  • Engage in exercises, or take a walk

  • Keep hydrated. Dehydration is a major cause of constipation

  • Eat a healthy and balance diet that is high in fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, whole grain products and nuts

  • Get extra fiber from fresh juices, figs and psyllium seeds

Conclusion, menopause constipation

Menopause constipation can be a real nuisance.

No wonder so many menopausal women are searching for effective ways to manage it.

Although there are several medications that may help to manage constipation, a magnesium supplement is recommended as a simple and effective approach.

It is generally considered safe and effective. However, if constipation persists, there may be an underlying medical condition the requires the attention of your doctor.

(Return from Menopause Constipation to Causes of Constipation)

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