Have you noticed that your IBS is worse during menopause? You may be wondering how does menopause affect IBS?
Menopause causes many unpleasant symptoms as your body goes through a period of hormonal changes. One of these symptoms is the worsening of your digestion.
In this article I will explain why and how menopause affects IBS. I will also give you some easy tips to follow which help prevent these symptoms.
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Can Menopause Worsen IBS?
Many of my clients report that their symptoms are worse during menopause. Sadly, we have very little research into this area.
The research we do have annoyingly seems to provide no concrete answer.
It will come as no surprise to you that digestive symptoms do seem to worsen during the ages of 40-49 (4).
We also know that 38% of women report digestive problems post-menopause (4).
There is only 1 study looking at how menopause affects IBS specifically. However, the study showed that there was no difference between men and women at different ages.
This suggests that menopause may not be to blame (5).
Bottom Line: we don’t know if menopause worsen’s IBS or not.
How Does Menopause Worsen IBS?
Even though we have very little research, there are some theories as to how menopause affects IBS.
One theory is that the symptoms worsen due to your changes in oestrogen and progesterone (2). These are both sex hormones which have receptors in your gut.
Prior to menopause, these hormone levels fall.
Research in menstrual cycles shows that a fall in the same hormones can increase the sensitivity in your gut (3).
Don’t forget your other menopause symptoms!
As well as digestive symptoms, you may notice other changes in your body. We know that these changes are directly related to worsening IBS.
The following menopause symptoms are also linked to worsening digestive symptoms;
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low mood
Perimenopause is the time before menopause. During this time, your body will start to experience changes, but you will continue to have menstrual cycles.
This is the time where your hormones are at their lowest and you are mostly likely to experience symptoms (2).
How To Improve IBS During Menopause
Menopause can affect IBS but there are simple steps you can also take to help this impact.
These steps will come in the form of targeting the following areas;
- Good Sleep Hygiene: having a sleep environment and habits that promote good sleep quality and quantity may optimise you gut. You can read more about this on the sleep councils’ website by clicking here.
- Exercise: exercise is linked to improving digestive health. It is recommended you do a minimum of 30 minutes per day of exercise.
- Diet: eat regularly, stay hydrated and aim for 30g of fibre / day. All these elements will optimise your gut health.
Menopause may worsen your IBS symptoms due to hormonal changes.
Taking steps which focus on diet, sleep and exercise may help your IBS during this period.
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.
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