Menopause is a normal event that every woman will experience at some stage in her life. It is not an illness, but a natural part of aging. Menopause is accompanied by a sharp decline in female sex hormones, mainly estrogen and progesterone, which has a significant effect on the female body. Some organs and tissues are particularly sensitive to hormonal change (brain, skin, mucous membrane, bones, vascular system); common menopausal symptoms thus include depression, loss of motivation, poor concentration, changes in appetite, fatigue, insomnia, hot flashes, weight gain, decreased skin elasticity, lowered libido, and dryness of the mucous membranes.
Several studies show that the digestive system is also affected. Some women experience digestive difficulties, constipation, and bloating. While the exact causes are not fully determined, there are different hypotheses. Possible causes include the decline in estrogen and progesterone levels, reduced physical activity, some medications – as well as stress, which is likely a very important factor. Some studies suggest that elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can cause digestion to slow down.
In addition to hormones, constipation in menopause can also be attributed to weakened pelvic floor muscles, which make defecation harder, more so in the case of hard and dry stool.
Another contributing factor for constipation are medications that are often taken during menopause. At that time, many women take high blood pressure medications, iron supplements, thyroid medications, antacids with calcium or aluminium, and antidepressants. All of these can lead to slow digestion and constipation.
Unbalanced diet, lack of physical activity, and emotional stress compound other health issues, including constipation. Changes in diet can significantly improve digestion. For instance, some foods are rich in phytoestrogens. They are familiar, cheap, and likely already part of your diet: flax seeds, chickpeas, lentils, beans, dill, celery, parsley, and garlic. In addition to phytoestrogens, these foods are high in dietary fibre necessary for regular digestion.
We should keep in mind that a change in diet is always the first step in treating constipation. Above all, we should increase the fibre intake. The recommended daily fibre intake is 25 to 30 g, and should include both soluble and insoluble fibre. You should therefore slowly add fruit, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, and legumes to your diet. Drink enough fluids and exercise moderately. Physical activity not only helps with constipation, but reduces stress.
If diet and lifestyle changes fail to help, the next step in treatment usually involves osmotic laxatives. These draw water from the intestinal wall, thus increasing the volume of stool by three to five times. The pressure on the intestinal wall triggers peristalsis, or bowel movement.
A wholly natural remedy is Donat, a natural mineral water that has been clinically proven to improve digestion. Donat is a natural osmotic laxative that does not cause tolerance and has no adverse effects. Since it works by osmosis, its only side effect can be soft stool or diarrhea. In this case, intake should be reduced to prevent the loss of fluids and electrolytes from the body.
Along with a varied and balanced diet, adequate intake of fluid and physical activity, Donat can greatly help in stimulating slow digestion and relieving constipation.