Menopause comes with changes in the body. These changes come as a result of hormonal imbalances that happen in the body. One of the things that happen is constipation. This is something that is commonly seen in menopausal women. Constipation is defined as not being able to have up to 3 bowel movements in a week. If this continues for more than 3 months then it could be because of a chronic condition. And this, of course, would need immediate attention. For today we will be looking at foods that you can eat when you are constipated because of menopause. As well as the link between constipation and menopause.
It’s interesting how menopause affects a lot of organs in the body. The effects for some are drastic while the effect for some is gradual. And it varies from person to person. Menopause sure comes with a lot of baggage. And women sure have to deal with them. Anyway, this is one way to deal with one of those things. Food is the way out when it comes to constipation. Well, some medications can help out. But our concentration for today would be those foods that shouldn’t be far from you when you are constipated due to menopause.
The Link Between Constipation and Menopause
So we all know that menopause occurs when a woman has not seen her period for at least 1 year. This is a journey that comes with its twists and turns. There is a drastic drop in a hormone known as estrogen. The hormone progesterone also has its role to play.
The thing with these two hormones is that they affect different parts of the body. And one of the parts they affect is the digestive tract. That’s why women experience constipation when they are postmenopausal. The thing though is that many of the changes that happen in the body could start earlier. So even constipation could start in the perimenopausal stage.
One thing the hormone estrogen does is regulating another hormone cortisol. It helps keep the level of cortisol low. The hormone cortisol is one hormone that is associated with stress. So when there is increased stress the level of cortisol will rise. Low levels of estrogen would cause increased cortisol levels.
When this happens the digestive process is slowed down. That’s why it takes a longer time for the food to be broken down. And this is what causes constipation.
Also, having low levels of progesterone would slow down the actions of the colon. That’s why food waste would spend a much longer time in the colon. Another thing is that when the levels of both estrogen and progesterone are low the stool becomes dryer.
All these coupled together would cause constipation for a long period.
What To Eat to Help You With Constipation and Menopause
- Prunes: They are known as dried plums. And they are widely known to be one of the best options for constipation. It contains about 2g of fiber per serving which is about 3 prunes. The fiber in this helps increase the bulk of stool. At the same time, it has a laxative effect all thanks to sorbitol. Also, the laxative effect can be attributed to the phenolic compounds. These compounds help stimulate the growth of food bacteria in the gut.
- Apples: This is another good source of fiber. It contains around 4.4g of fiber. It also contains pectin. Pectin is easily fermented and when it is fermented it helps pull water to the colon. This helps soften stool and then decrease transit time in the gut.
- Figs: Another good source of fiber that can help with proper bowel movements. It is known to contain an enzyme known as ficain. This enzyme helps contribute positively to bowel movement.
- Green vegetables: Such as brussels sprouts and spinach. They are good sources of fiber as well as vitamins. They help add bulk to stools and make it easy to pass the stool.
- Water: Make sure you drink a lot of water. Water would go a long way in reducing constipation. It would help speed up the digestion process and also decrease transit time. When this happens you would be able to get rid of the stool in no time.
The point is getting high fiber foods. There are many other foods that you can opt for that are not listed above. The important thing is that they contain a lot of fiber and other nutrients that can help reduce constipation.
Is There a Need To Talk to Your Doctor?
Yes, your doctor should be your first stop when you notice you have been constipated for a while. You might think it’s related to menopause, but there’s another cause. The only way you can find out is by going to your doctor. Your doctor would be able to find out what the exact cause is. And when the cause is known, then it would be a lot easier to deal with the problem.
The most important thing you must bear in mind is that don’t guess the cause. There are way too many causes of constipation. And some of them are quite serious and may need immediate medical attention. So don’t assume, instead, go over to see your doctor. At least that way, you can be sure that there’s nothing wrong, and the cause is just menopause.
Your doctor will most likely prescribe some medications. Make sure you use it as prescribed. If after using it constipation persists, then revisit your doctor. So that another treatment option can be opted for. It could be as simple as prescribing another medication for you. So don’t freak out if the first medication wasn’t effective.
Anyway, we hope you now get the relationship between constipation and menopause. And hopefully you also now know the steps you should take whenever you find yourself in such a situation.