Should I Look Into Getting An Ibs Diagnosis
If you think that menopause may have brought on IBS, then you may want to talk to your doctor about being assessed for an IBS diagnosis. Additionally, if you have experienced IBS previously, and find that your symptoms have returned or worsened, it may be time to speak to your doctor about updating your treatment plan.An IBS diagnosis is made using the Rome IV criteria. Your healthcare provider will analyze your symptom severity and frequency to see whether you qualify for an IBS diagnosis, and also rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. According to the criteria, you need to have recurrent abdominal pain, on average, at least one day per week in the last three months, associated with two or more of the following:
- Related to defecation
- Associated with a change in frequency of stool
- Associated with a change in form of stool
If you think your symptoms may be a sign of IBS, make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Be careful not to self-diagnose IBS, because other, potentially serious, conditions can produce similar symptoms.
If Youre Having Thoughts Of Suicide
Talking to someone about how youre feeling can be scary. But those you trust can help support you through this time.
Try speaking to a close friend or relative who can listen to you and accompany you if you decide to see an emergency doctor.
Be as open with them as you can and tell them if youve taken any medication or have access to medication or weapons.
If the thoughts begin to ease, its still worth booking an appointment with a mental health professional such as a therapist.
This is another area in which a friend or family member can help.
There are also a number of support services to contact in times of crisis. If youre in the United States, the following hotlines are confidential and available 24/7:
How Long Does Menopause Last
As we outlined above, the menopause itself is just a moment in time. But perimenopause and post-menopause symptoms can carry on for several years.
The perimenopause can last from 12 months to up to five years in most women. From this time, your ovaries release less estrogen than in previous years. Menopause symptoms may appear earlier than your mid 40s, especially if you have undergone chemotherapy or had a hysterectomy. The postmenopausal phase is where menopause symptoms slowly subside, although some women will experience symptoms into their 60s and even 70s.
READ MORE What is perimenopause?
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What Is The Average Age For Menopause
Menopause itself is just one moment in time, marking 12 months of no periods. This means that you will only know that you have reached menopause retrospectively when you realise youve had a year with no periods.
For UK women, the average age of menopause is 51, but symptoms can start several years before that. Symptoms typically start showing at an average age of 45 years. This is your perimenopause or the storm before the calm as our medical advisor Dr Stephanie Goodwin calls it. The time after menopause is called post-menopause, and its common for your symptoms to continue into this time.
Changes To Stomach Acid And Bile Production
The reduction of estrogen and progesterone may also impact the bodyâs ability to produce stomach acid and bile. Additionally, as estrogen levels decrease, cortisol and blood pressure rises, resulting in the slowing of the digestive system.
Stomach acid helps to break down food in your stomach, allowing the body to absorb nutrients and travel through the digestive tract. Gastric acid imbalances can lead to symptoms such as heartburn or acid reflux, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Another digestive fluid needed for digestion is bile, which is made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Drops in progesterone and estrogen, as experienced in menopause, have been associated with lowered bile levels. If the liver isnât producing enough bile to break down food, the stores in the gallbladder are depleted and fats canât be digested properly, resulting in the inability of the body to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins.
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Management Of The Postmenopausal Woman Experiencing Gerd Symptoms
Gastroesophageal reflux disease affects up to 20% of the adult population on a weekly basis.1 GERD is a condition characterized by acid reflux and heartburn or indigestion.2 It is a condition that indicates the presence of ongoing esophageal damage from gastric contents and can lead to esophagitis, Barretts esophagus and esophageal carcinoma.
Acid reflux and dyspepsia are the predominant symptoms of GERD but symptoms can include, laryngitis, odynophagia, chronic cough, globus sensation, asthma and chest pain.3-5 While, to date, most GERD research has been conducted on men, research on GERD symptoms in women suggests that they may experience GERD symptoms differently than do men specifically, women may experience the atypical symptoms of GERD, such as coughing, wheezing, hoarseness, belching and, in some cases, choking. It has been suggested that gender differences in clinical presentation may be hormonal.2,6-8
Screening and Diagnosis GERD is a multi-factorial condition that requires a holistic approach in order to identify risk factors, determine etiology and establish the appropriate course of management for each patient. Postmenopausal women should be screened for GERD symptoms regularly. A thorough history should elicit information about the following: Complete symptomology of GI complaints and what patients are doing to help control those symptoms, Family history of GI problems, Dietary habits, Weight changes, and Medication history, including NSAID use.
Can Acid Reflux Be A Symptom Of Menopause
Acid reflux is a problem that women often contact me about wondering if it can be caused by menopause or not. This week, I explain why this digestive issue can occur or get worse during menopause, the problems with taking antacid medication at this time and what you can do to help ease acid reflux.
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Menopause And Acid Reflux/gerd
As women are passing out of their reproductive years, it is not uncommon for digestive problems, such as acid reflux and GERD, to surface, adding to the laundry list of menopause symptoms they may already be experiencing. However, worry not as useful information is just a scroll away.
Continue reading to learn all about menopause and acid reflux as well as GERD, including more about both conditions, symptoms, management, treatment, and much more.
Other Physical And Mental Changes At Midlife
Some common midlife changes that are often attributed to menopause are not necessarily related to the fluctuating or decreasing hormone levels of menopause. The four most commonly reported changes include mood changes and depression insomnia or other sleep problems cognitive or memory problems and decline in sexual desire, function, or both. Other physical changes that crop up in the middle years include weight gain, urinary incontinence, heart palpitations, dry skin and hair, and headaches. For these, a hormonal link is possible, but has not been proved. Consider the fact that men, who don’t experience a dramatic drop in hormone levels in their early 50s, often notice many of these same symptoms!
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Eat Slowly And Chew Well
Take your time when eating. They do say that you should chew each mouthful 20 times to get the right consistency for the stomach to do its job properly.
Do a little bit of homework. For the next few days when you’re eating, try and chew each mouthful 20 times. It’s very hard because we’re used to just chomping and swallowing.
The other great thing about chewing slowly is that you tend to feel fuller quicker, and if you’re trying to watch your calorie intake, this can be a nice easy way of doing it.
Eat More Foods That Are High In Phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.
Therefore, they may help balance hormones.
The high intake of phytoestrogens in Asian countries such as Japan is thought to be the reason why menopausal women in these places rarely experience hot flashes.
Foods rich in phytoestrogens include soybeans and soy products, tofu, tempeh, flaxseeds, linseeds, sesame seeds and beans. However, the phytoestrogen content in foods varies depending on processing methods.
One study found that diets high in soy were associated with reduced cholesterol levels, blood pressure and reduced severity of hot flashes and night sweats among women who were starting to enter menopause .
However, the debate continues over whether soy products are good or bad for you.
Evidence suggests that real food sources of phytoestrogens are better than supplements or processed foods with added soy protein (
Drinking 17 oz of water, 30 minutes before a meal may lead you to consume 13% fewer calories during the meal .
Drinking enough water may help prevent weight gain, aid in weight loss and reduce symptoms of dryness.
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Sit Up Straight When Eating
If you are sitting at a desk or watching TV and you’re eating slumped, this is going to squash your stomach. And your stomach is not going to be able to break your food down properly, and that in itself can give you feelings of fullness and indigestion.
We’re very busy, so we tend to eat very quickly. We may end up eating on the run. We don’t chew our food properly. And if you don’t chew your food properly, then big lumps of food are going to be sitting in the stomach. And your stomach is going to have to produce extra acid to try and break all these down.
So, the really simple tools for improving your stomach digestion are to make sure that you are sitting down and sitting up properly. Remember what, you were often told that when you were children, elbows by your side. Eating this way allows the stomach to move properly.
Vaginal Dryness And Discomfort
Its not something that you necessarily want to talk about but fluctuating and falling hormones do lead to a reduction in vaginal lubrication and cause the vaginal walls to become thinner and less elastic. This can cause irritation, a burning sensation and itchiness that make it difficult for you to go about your daily life. It can also get in the way of you enjoying sex as the lack of lubrication can lead to difficulty becoming aroused and/or reaching orgasm. It can also put you at increased risk of urinary tract infections like cystitis. Understandably all this can put a dampener on your sex drive and doesnt exactly add to your quality of life.
Keep hydrated. Not drinking enough fluid can leave your body drier generally skin, eyes, mouth and your vagina. There are a range of vaginal moisturisers available from the chemist which can offer immediate relief. Other options include HRT or vaginal oestrogen so discuss all options with your GP.
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Natural Ways To Reduce Symptoms Of Menopause
Menopause begins in the late 40s or early 50s for most women. It usually lasts for a few years.
During this time, at least two-thirds of women experience symptoms of menopause (
In addition, menopausal women are at a higher risk of several diseases including osteoporosis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes (
Here is a list of 11 natural ways to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
Uterine Bleeding: What’s Normal What’s Not
One concern for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women is knowing whether irregular uterine bleeding is normal. Most women notice normal changes in their cycle as they approach menopause. Periods are often heavy or more frequent, and they may stop and start. But abnormal uterine bleeding may be a sign of benign gynecologic problems or even uterine cancer. Consult your physician if any of the following situations occur:
- You have a few periods that last three days longer than usual.
- You have a few menstrual cycles that are shorter than 21 days.
- You bleed after intercourse.
- You have heavy monthly bleeding .
- You have spotting .
- You have bleeding that occurs outside the normal pattern associated with hormone use.
When you report abnormal vaginal bleeding, your clinician will try to determine whether the cause is an anatomic problem or a hormonal issue. He or she also will investigate other possible causes. In addition to identifying the cause, he or she will help you manage any excess bleeding, which sometimes leads to anemia.
On rare occasions, postmenopausal women experience uterine bleeding from a “rogue ovulation,” which is vaginal bleeding after a hiatus that may be preceded by premenstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness. Presumably, the ovaries are producing some hormones and maybe a final egg.
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Symptoms Of Pms: Heartburn
Premenstrual syndrome is more of a grouping of symptoms that occurs in relation to a woman’s menstrual cycle than an actual condition all on its own. Often referred to simply as PMS, most women suffer from these symptoms anywhere between five and ten days prior to starting their periods, as indicated by the National Institutes of Health. It isn’t until you begin your menstrual cycle that the majority of the discomforts associated with PMS dissipate. One of these symptoms is heartburn.
Menopause Upset Stomach And Anxiety Stress And Tension Theyre Linked
Oestrogen keeps the stress hormone cortisol in check when this sex hormone runs low during the menopause, blood pressure rises and your digestion slows down. Without oestrogen’s calming effect, adrenaline levels can rise, which switches off digestive functioning. The result: stomach pains, acid reflux, abdominal cramps, constipation, bloating and sluggish bowel.
Increased anxiety is a very common symptom of the menopause, as is a tendency to get flustered during stressful or high-pressure situations. You may get a sense or feeling that you just arent able to cope as well as you used to be able to.
Tension can leave your stomach feeling in knots.
Theres an inextricable link between the gut and the brain, so if youve got a menopause upset stomach, its certainly worth checking in on your tension levels. Again, this is down to hormones.
Hot flushes, a quintessential menopausal symptom, can also sometimes feel quite overwhelming. For many women, these progress into panic attacks. The direct link between our mind and our tummy means that any worries, stress or anxiety are mirrored in your stomach, with muscles in the gut becoming tense.
Fortunately, there are always steps we can take to look after our mental health when lifes stressful situations threaten to get the better of us.
Consider exploring a course of cognitive behavioural therapy , joining up with a local meditation group or treating yourself to regular relaxation massages perhaps even all of these!
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About Acid Reflux And Gerd
Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux , is when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing a taste of thrown up food or sour liquid.
Although acid reflux is commonly referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease , GERD is a long-lasting and more severe form of reflux whose most common symptom is recurrent heartburn.
While it is true that many women will experience acid reflux occasionally, for the diagnosis of GERD to be made, acid reflux has to occur at least once a week.
Muscle Aches And Joint Pains
If you increasingly wake up feeling achy and stiff, find it harder to recover after exercise or find your muscles and joints generally feel more sore and inflamed it can be tempting to write this off as simply the signs of old age. Yet this is a classic menopausal symptom that has been dubbed menopausal arthritis.
Keep your weight down. As a nation we are getting fatter, with levels of obesity more than doubling in the last decade. Carrying extra weight puts you at increased risk of developing joint and muscle pain in the first place and also exacerbates any existing joint problems. Many people credit yoga and Tai Chi with helping not just to get them fitter and slimmer but also with helping manage joint pain and increasing their flexibility. Including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet like omega-3 rich oily fish , nuts, seeds, olive oil and vegetables and fruit can help reduce inflammation. Evidence also shows how some herbs and spices also appear to stimulate anti-inflammatory effects in the body – ginger and turmeric in particular. If you dont get these in your diet you might benefit from a supplement.
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The Problem With Antacid Medications
One of the issues with these drugs is that if you take them long term, there is the possibility that they can interfere with the absorption of minerals such as magnesium and calcium. And these are both vital in the menopause.
If you’re low in calcium, that can affect your bones leading to osteoporosis. If you’re low in magnesium, that can give you symptoms such as anxiety, palpitations, and poor sleep.
So, as you can see, getting something like GERD, or even indigestion, or acid reflux can have a lot of ongoing issues with menopausal problems, too. Also, what can happen is because oestrogen is affecting the production of acid in the stomach, it could end up producing too much acid.
But it can also end up not producing enough acid. And both of these situations will end up causing the same symptoms. So, again, if you take antacids, you may then be making your symptoms even worse.
The Symptoms You May Notice
The digestive tract runs from your throat to your anus so you may have symptoms that affect any part of it, including:
- Acid reflux, where acid comes back up your oesophagus into the back of your throat. Waking in the night, coughing, can sometimes be a tell-tale sign this is happening.
- Heartburn, an uncomfortable burning pain in your chest
- Bloating and cramps
- Constipation and/or diarrhoea
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