Nausea and Menopause: It Doesn't Just Happen in Pregnancy
During pregnancy, morning sickness or feeling nauseous affects most women so it gets lots of attention. Not so when it happens later in life. Thankfully, it’s less common and less frequent during menopause than during pregnancy. Since there are so many possible causes of an upset stomach, its connection to this stage of life is probably overlooked. But for those experiencing it, stomach issues can be unpleasant and disruptive.
There hasn’t been much research on menopause-related nausea, so the best we have are some educated guesses.
One theory points to the decline in progesterone. Low levels of this hormone and estrogen may contribute to GI troubles. These hormones fluctuate during regular menstrual cycles, so if you’ve experienced nausea related to your cycle in the past or during pregnancy, you may find yourself dealing with it again in perimenopause and menopause.
Nausea may also result from other menopausal symptoms such as strong hot flashes, headaches especially migraines, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, and heart palpitations. In addition, nausea can be a side effect of some medications like hormone replacement therapy and antidepressants prescribed to help alleviate symptoms like hot flashes.
What to do
If you find yourself nauseated first thing in the morning, dehydration may be to blame. If you’re eating too much junk food or not eating enough, low blood sugar levels may be behind your nausea. Here are some more ways to find out what’s upsetting your stomach and calm it down.
Take a pregnancy test. It’s less likely in perimenopause when your periods may be erratic, but not impossible.
Do some detective work. Is there a pattern to your problem? When does it strike? If you’re still having periods, does it happen a few days ahead of your cycle? Does it occur before or after mealtimes? Too much wine, coffee, sugar, and spicy foods may be to blame. Is it related to eating certain types of food? For example, as you get older, your body can have a harder time digesting dairy. Does drinking some water help? If so, it could be dehydration. Is it related to any medication you take? If you can uncover triggers for the nausea, you can avoid or manage them more effectively to get relief.
Look at recent changes. Have you started taking a new medication? Are you eating or drinking something new? Do you have any new stressors in your life? Any changes in your sleeping or eating patterns? If these changes coincided with the nausea, they could be related.
Adjust your eating habits. Limit or avoid spicy, greasy, and sugary foods which can all upset your stomach. Ditto for alcohol, coffee, and any other food triggers that you discover. Eat smaller, more frequent meals, and take your time while eating. Be sure to drink a lot of water during meals, which helps with digestion. Don’t skip meals, even if you’re feeling queasy. Having no food in your stomach may make matters worse, so at least try something bland like white rice or saltines (just like they recommend to pregnant women).
Experiment with relaxation techniques. Before you skip over this tip because you’re thinking “Yeh, right,” or you’re sick of hearing it, there’s some information you may not have heard. Your body has a gut-brain axis, a communication system between your brain and your belly. Because of this connection, stress had been shown to physically alter aspects of your gastrointestinal tract that can result in symptoms like nausea. It could be worth finding a way to ease some of the stress in your life.
Try some spices. Ginger is a popular remedy for general nausea so it might help during menopause too. Other spices that may offer some relief are fennel and cinnamon. They’ve been shown to be effective for relieving pregnancy and menstrual nausea, according to studies.
When to get help
Treatment for nausea often requires discovering the cause, so checking with your doctor may offer faster relief. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, is similar to heartburn and can result in nausea. Other conditions that can cause tummy troubles are peptic ulcers, diabetes, and migraines.
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The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional. Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is “just menopause” can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev's telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.
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