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Constipation in Menopause

Constipation During Menopause: Causes, Triggers, and Remedies

You've dealt with the hot flashes, you've handled the brain fog, Silky Peach has healed your atrophy, but now you have constipation... What the heck?! Constipation is a common condition that affects many women during and after menopause. In this blog, we'll discuss what causes constipation during menopause, what makes it worse, and what you can do about it (because eating half a packet of ex-lax is not the answer!).

What Causes Constipation During Menopause?

It can be zero fun to be suffering from all things menopause (like no sleep, brain fog, mood swings etcetera...), and then add constipation on top of that... But, hormonal changes during menopause can cause various digestive problems, including constipation. The decrease in estrogen levels can affect the digestive system's function and cause slow transit time, leading to hard and dry stools that are difficult to pass. Ouch! We also hear from many women that this difficulty and straining (and increased wiping) can increase issues relating to vaginal atrophy (double ouch!).

Other factors that can cause constipation during menopause include:

  1. Lack of physical activity: As women age, they tend to become less active, leading to decreased bowel movements and constipation.
  2. Dietary factors: A diet low in fiber and high in processed foods can cause constipation.
  3. Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can lead to dry stools and constipation.
  4. Medications: Some medications, such as antidepressants, painkillers, and antihistamines, can cause constipation.
  5. Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and hypothyroidism, can cause constipation.

What Makes Constipation During Menopause Worse?

A better question might be, why now? What happens during menopause to cause this difficulty that wasn't happening when you were 22, 32, or even 42? Well, aside from hormonal changes affecting our systems and overall digestive rate, there are several other factors that can exacerbate constipation during menopause, including:

  1. Stress: Stress can affect the digestive system's function and lead to constipation.
  2. Lack of exercise: Not getting enough exercise (or just general movement) can lead to slow bowel movements and constipation.
  3. Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement: Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement can lead to constipation over time.
  4. Holding in stools: Holding in stools can lead to dry and hard stools that are difficult to pass.
  5. Overuse of laxatives: Overuse of laxatives can lead to dependency and worsen constipation over time.

So, what Can You Do About Constipation During Menopause?

Thankfully, there are several things you can do to relieve and prevent constipation during menopause, including:

  1. Increase fiber intake: Eating a diet high in fiber can help soften stools and promote regular bowel movements. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
  2. Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water can help keep stools soft and easy to pass.
  3. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help stimulate bowel movements and prevent constipation.
  4. Manage stress: Managing stress through relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can help improve digestive function and prevent constipation.
  5. Use laxatives sparingly: Only use laxatives when necessary and under a doctor's guidance to avoid dependency.
  6. Consider hormone therapy: Hormone therapy, such as estrogen replacement therapy, can help alleviate constipation and other menopause-related symptoms.

It might not be a common topic of conversation (we kind of hope it's not to be honest), BUT, constipation during menopause is a common condition that can be caused by hormonal changes, lack of physical activity, and poor dietary habits. To prevent and relieve constipation, it's essential to eat a high-fiber diet, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, manage stress, use laxatives sparingly, and consider hormone therapy under a doctor's guidance. If constipation persists or becomes severe, consult your healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.