To talk about constipation in menopause it is necessary to define both terms. Menopause is known as the last menstruation and this event is accompanied by various physical and mental changes resulting from the cessation of ovarian function that can acquire a pathological dimension and require treatment.
One of those physical changes that a woman has in this period of her life that on average occurs at age 50 is constipation.
Constipation is defined as the presence of two or more of the following manifestations, for more than three months without the use of laxatives:
- Less than two bowel movements per week.
- Fecal matter lasts 25% or more of bowel movements.
- Forced or difficult evacuations in 25% of cases.
- Sensation of incomplete evacuation in 25% of stools at least.
In menopause there is a series of hormonal changes that, added to the characteristic stress of this stage, make constipation appear as a symptom added to the rest of the existing ones.
Causes of constipation in menopause.
- Decrease in estrogens: In this period of a woman’s life there is a considerable decrease in estrogen due to aging of the ovary: the organ responsible for producing hormones and releasing the oocyte (known as ovum). This decrease in estrogens causes an increase in the release of adrenaline, a situation that results in a slowdown in the transit of the fecal bolus in the large intestine.
- Medications: There are drugs that women use in other pathological circumstances such as high blood pressure, estrogen replacement therapy and depression that have constipation as an adverse effect.
- Diet poor in fiber and fluids that do not allow the effective transit of the fecal bolus and the softening of the stool on its way. Diets rich in junk food do not help improve the picture.
Treatment of constipation in menopause.
There are various treatments, some more effective than others, but in the end, they will help improve the transit of the fecal bolus through the intestinal tract and improve the quality of life of women during this “critical” stage of cessation of hormonal functions to which the body was used to it. Among the treatments and methods that can be used to improve constipation we will talk about:
It is important to eat well throughout our lives, but there are critical moments where it becomes essential to make this premise part of our lives.
It is in menopause when estrogen levels decrease and we must eat more fiber, cereals, vegetables and fluids. Adding all this to the diet will help counteract the effects of adrenaline at the level of the intestinal smooth muscle. Also, you should chew well and eat slowly.
Leading an active life with increased cardiac activity will promote vasodilation and stimulate intestinal motility.
It is recommended that at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity in the morning be performed at least four times a week.
The use of laxatives is indicated when several days have passed since the onset of constipation. They should be used for less than a week and taking previous measures of food hygiene and physical exercise.
Bulking laxatives are recommended such as: mucilage and wheat bran which is derived from cellulose. These laxatives form stools of greater volume, but very soft, allowing them to be expelled more easily.
It should be used within a period of no more than 7 days because its use creates dependency. They are administered before meals, with plenty of water by mouth.
Hormone replacement therapy:
It consists of administering natural or artificial estrogens that the body is no longer producing. This therapeutic measure will improve the symptoms that derive from menopause and therefore improve constipation and intestinal transit.
This therapy has severe adverse effects and should be indicated by a specialist doctor, individualizing each woman according to her habits and history of illnesses.
This metal helps muscle motility and the intestine is a smooth muscle that, due to its greater movement, favors the transit of the fecal bolus.
Menopause is a period of physical and mental changes in which the woman will have to adopt a lifestyle very different from the one she had before this stage.
It is always important to take measures in the face of what is changing and it must be improved but always in the hands of doctor or health personnel who is trained to guide the improvement of women in this stage of change.