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  • Dr. Susan

Is Menopause Contributing to Your IBS and Gut Issues?

Gastrointestinal symptoms in midlife are an important unaddressed area of women’s health.

While most cases of IBS in women are diagnosed before the age of 35, we can’t lose sight that midlife changes of a woman’s body and imbalanced hormones may contribute to gut symptoms in midlife.

IBS is known as a multifactorial gut-brain condition. Remember IBS is an accumulation of symptoms that are undiagnosed as another disease process.

Factors affecting the gut-brain interaction are:

· Stressors such as caregiving for a parent, family, work and intimacy issues arise for women in their 40’s and beyond

· Disrupted sleep

· Health of Your Microbiome

· Inflammation from Dietary Choices

· Movement and Physical Activity

· Prior abdominal or pelvic surgeries

· Perimenopausal to Menopausal Transition

· Imbalances of Sex Hormones

Stress and Bloat

Women between the ages of 40 and 65 typically experience multiple challenges brought on my menopause.

This is also a period when many women seek health care for gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and alternations in bowel function such as diarrhea and constipation. Menopause definitely comes with mental and emotional triggers.

Disrupted Sleep

Sleep interruption and disruption starts for many midlife women with the onset of hot flashes, night sweat and the emotional anxiety affecting sleep

Health of Your Microbiome

Use of birth control earlier in life, frequency of urinary tract infections, frequent antibiotic usage or steroid medication and frequent vaginal yeast infections should be evaluated in a greater light of the integrity and health of your microbiome

Inflammation from Dietary Choices

Inflammation from food and or gut infection dramatically affect the gut-brain axis and gut motility, frequently a cause of constipation and diarrhea

Imbalanced Sex Hormones

Researchers have linked sex hormones with gastrointestinal functions, this realization gives new evidence showing a higher prevalence of IBS or functional dyspepsia symptoms and/or a greater symptom severity in women compared to men.

Something I find very interesting is that future research is examining whether inflammation triggered during menopause contributes to gas, bloat and constipation in midlife women.

Research is currently stating that addressing sex hormone imbalances, should have a profound effect on gut motility, immune activation, intestinal permeability aka Leaky Gut, and pain for women in midlife.

The gut-brain connection is modulated by the autonomic nervous system and the enteric nervous system, our guts own nervous system. Have you ever heard about your gut having its own brain? This is what that means, our brain and nervous system is integrally connected to the nervous system of our gut which affects issues of motility, gastric secretions, enzymatic release, abdominal pain and we can begin to see how stress can “shut down” your gut.

Perimenopause, IBS and Gut Issues

I believe more education is needed for women to be actively engaged in their whole body including hormonal health. Menopause is obviously, a natural part of life, a stopping of a woman’s ability to procreate. With this acceptance should also be knowledge of the protective effects of hormone balance throughout life.

I believe the medical profession has stuck their collective head in the ground in ignoring women’s hormonal health throughout life.

Hormones are communicators and are vital for bone health, metabolism, blood sugar control, gut motility and a healthy enjoyable sex life, throughout life.

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