Menopause is unavoidable for those with a uterus, so getting clued up on how the gut is connected to menopause symptoms may make it more bearable for you.
The average age to be in menopause is 51 years old. Menopause means your periods will have stopped consecutively for 12 months, usually lasting for 7 years.1
Before this, when you may experience symptoms of menopause but still have periods, you are peri menopausal. This happens when your oestrogen levels begin to decrease and can last for years.2
We feel it’s important to point out that not only those identifying as female will experience menopause. Anybody with female anatomy (namely, a uterus) will experience menopause, including non-binary people, transgender men and cisgender women.
How Is The Gut Linked to the Menopause?
Our gut microbiome is responsible for many primary bodily functions; our immune response, cerebral activity, brain function, nervous system and digestion. Our primary bodily functions can be impacted during menopause, including the perimenopausal and post-menopausal periods.
What are the Symptoms of The Menopause?
Unfortunately, many, many symptoms come with menopause. It can be highly frustrating, uncomfortable and even painful for adults. Here we will discuss a few of the most common signs that can be benefitted by looking after your gut.
A big issue many adults suffer during menopause is an imbalance in hormones. Our gut is responsible for producing serotonin, oestrogen and progesterone, so keeping the gut healthy can somewhat limit the hormone imbalance.
Many of the symptoms we will discuss are due to hormone imbalance - mainly, the drop in oestrogen during menopause.
74% of adults who experience menopause will suffer from hot flushes during menopause. This is the body's reaction to the drop in oestrogen. These can occur during the night and the day, which are called night sweats.3
Some people will also experience weight gain due to hormone imbalance.4 Diet and exercise usually won’t affect this, as the weight gain is due to hormones impacting your metabolism rather than external factors. The only way to combat this weight gain is to rebalance the hormones.
Pain in joints can be a symptom of menopause and is usually caused by inflammation in the body. Eating foods that reduce inflammation can go a long way to reducing joint pain.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids reduce inflammatory proteins in the body, improve brain function, and lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Omega-3 can be found in many cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines, nuts and seeds, or you can take a daily supplement.5
The antioxidants found in colourful fruits can also do wonders for inflammation that causes joint pain. Blueberries are exceptionally high in the flavonoid known as anthocyanin, so they can be a great choice if you want to eradicate painful joints.5
Olive Oil, particularly Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as it is the least processed form of Olive Oil, can be fantastic at reducing inflammation. It is best to consume it first thing in the morning, as it is more easily absorbed by the bacteria in the gut this way. 15ml is sufficient, and adding a dash of lemon can make it more palatable whilst your body also gets to enjoy lemon juice's health benefits.5
Loss of Sex Drive
Many adults who experience menopause will experience a loss of sex drive or libido due to the decrease in oestrogen. Mental factors accompany the lack of oestrogen; many people who experience menopause feel less attractive or depressed, which can also impact sex drive.3
Vaginal dryness is another symptom caused by the drop in oestrogen. It can contribute to a lack of sex drive due to discomfort during sex. The dryness can contribute to an imbalance of PH levels, which can also lead to yeast infections.3
Bloating can be a symptom of menopause for a variety of reasons. Digestive issues can cause it due to the hormone changes impacting how food is digested but can also be due to the changes in period regularity. Eating foods and consuming supplements that help with digestive issues could alleviate this symptom somewhat.3
Probiotics, The Gut and Menopause
Probiotics can help feed the good bacteria and add additional good bacteria to your gut to maintain a healthy gut microbiome which can limit the impact of menopause. As many symptoms stem from hormone imbalance, healing the gut through probiotics may somewhat limit these symptoms.
Clare Hancock struggled with pain in her joints due to menopause which impacted her everyday life. “ After taking a probiotic supplement for 3-4 weeks, I noticed that all those funny little aches and pains that crept in with the menopause - my fingers, and my wrists, suddenly disappeared, and I feel great.”
Menopause can be a long and trying time for adults who experience it, but in some ways healing the gut can help. As the main issue within menopause is hormone imbalances, and many hormones are connected to or made in the gut, doing things to balance the gut microbiome could go a long way to helping the unavoidable experience that is menopause.