Perimenopause Digestive Disorders


There are many different types of digestive disorders that may affect women during perimenopause. Some of these can include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, indigestion, and difficulty swallowing. In addition, some women may experience more heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, gerd, and Laryngopharyngeal reflux.

Lower estrogen levels during menopause can lead to bowel and digestive problems. As these hormonal levels change, it can result in stress in the body. That, in turn, will affect your digestive system.

Bloating, diarrhea and constipation

Bloating is a common digestive problem during perimenopause. Because there is a shift toward fat accumulating hormones, which are cortisol and insulin, and a shift away from fat mobilizing hormones like estrogen, your body may begin to accumulate a fatter midsection. You may feel bloated from time to time.

Diarrhea and constipation may be caused by the fluctuating levels of progesterone and estrogen in the body. While progesterone slows down the movement of food through the bowels, estrogen speeds up the process. These two competing hormones can wreak havoc on your digestive tract.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Often women going through perimenopause may experience symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. The are different types of IBS, one with symptoms of diarrhea. The other has symptoms of constipation. Effective treatment for the type of IBS that includes constipation is a product called Zelnorm. This appears to be a good remedy for relieving the symptoms of IBS for many sufferers. Consult your health care provider to determine if it is the right medication for you.

GERD and Heartburn

Another digestive upset that may occur during perimenopause is GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. It occurs when the lower part of the esophagus sphincter muscle will not shut adequately, and the contents of the stomach flow back into the esophagus. Common symptoms of this are heartburn and acid regurgitation, where you can feel the acid coming back up into the throat. Not all women in perimenopause may experience GERD in the same way, and they may complain of pain in the chest, hoarseness in the early part of the day, or trouble swallowing. There may also be tightness in the throat with a dry cough and foul breath.

LPR during Perimenopause

Additionally, some women who are going through perimenopause may develop LPR. According to the Scripps San Diego Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders, "Larynogopharyngeal reflux or LPR is the backflow of stomach contents up the esophagus and into the throat. The difference between GERD and LPR is that most patients with LPR do not experience heartburn, stomach aches or have pain after eating.

The vast majority of patients will LPR do not have esophagitis or heartburn. They usually do not complain of stomachache or have pain associated with meals which is typical for GERD."

Some of the symptoms for LPR are hoarseness, too much mucus in the throat, chronic throat clearing and irritation, chronic cough and heartburn, and awakening at night due to coughing. An ear, nose and throat doctor can help diagnose and treat these symptoms.

Treatment options

There are many things you can do to relieve some of the symptoms associated with digestive distress during perimenopause. Try decreasing your consumption of high to moderate glycemic index carbohydrates. By eating a diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein, you can often ease symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. Eating three to five meals a day also will keep your insulin levels more steady, and help ease digestive upset. Eliminate bread and baked good for one week. See if you notice a difference in your symptoms. Many women are sensitive to gluten which is in baked goods.

Alternative treatments

Cutting back on alcohol is an easy way to help alleviate some of the digestive symptoms you may be experiencing in perimenopause. Alcohol is considered an gastric irritant.

Taking peppermint that is esoteric coated often is soothing for digestion problems. Take 2 to 3 capsules between meals for relief.

Taking digestive enzymes are another option for relieving problematic digestive symptoms. These enzymes are naturally occurring in the body, and help to process fats, sugars, starches, and proteins.


Easing and reducing the amount of stress in your life can often lead to improvement of the digestive upset you may be experiencing. Try meditation, relaxation exercises or counseling if necessary. Exercise is often a great stress reliever. Try adding physical activities like walking or biking to your daily routine.

Sleeping with a foam type wedge which elevates your head is another option. This will help prevent the gastric fluids from leaking back into your throat. Another benefit from sleeping with your head elevated is that it will help drain your sinuses.

Consult with your physician for problems you may be experiencing with perimenopausal digestive problems. He can devise a program which will suit your lifestyle and help ease your symptoms.

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