Hormonal changes play a big role in women’s digestive health issues through the lifespan.

Some women experience bowel changes as they approach their period, these digestive changes tend to remain consistent throughout the years – nothing to be concerned about. However, bowel movements and digestive problems can also be related to diet, stress, activity levels and the medications you are taking — making it hard to identify what is causing these problems.

As young women move out of adolescence and the menstrual cycle gets more regular, some women may notice fairly predictable bouts of constipation or diarrhea. They may also experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which could include digestive issues like gas, bloating, and general gastrointestinal discomfort.

The following life changes can also affect digestive issues:

Pregnancy – Along with the other less pleasant symptoms of pregnancy, you could have these digestive health changes:

* Heartburn. Women are susceptible to some digestive symptoms during pregnancy. As the uterus grows, it’s going to produce pressure in the abdomen, which [pushes] stomach contents up and lead to a greater likelihood of heartburn. About 85% of women have some experience of reflux during pregnancy. For a minority, this can lead to serious problems with nausea and vomiting.

* Bowel movement changes. Hormonal changes will get you again, especially in early pregnancy when bowel movements changes can be quite noticeable. Painful constipation is also common in pregnant women.

Menopause – As your hormones shift again during menopause, you may endure a series of digestive health changes like gas, bloating, and shifts in your bowel movements.

Post-menopause – At this age, you may have trouble absorbing certain nutrients because of medications you are taking and also because of changes associated with age. Although this won’t play out in a painful way most of the time, you may want to check in with your primary care provider to make sure your diet is healthy. Ask about supplements to keep your digestive system on track.


How Should You Manage Your Digestive Issues?

Like how to reduce the risk of chronic disease and keep you feeling your best, you need to –

* Maintain a healthy weight.

* Eat a balanced diet. Include lots of fluids and foods rich in fiber.

* Eat probiotic-rich foods. These “healthy” bacteria help keep you regular.

* Stay active.


If you’re doing all of these things and still have digestive problems that interfere with your quality of life, see a doctor for further evaluation. Women may wrongly write off repeated digestive problems as part of their hormone cycle when they actually have an underlying condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or an inflammatory bowel disease.

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