Menopause and abdominal pain

Abdominal pain can often be associated with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and this can worsen as women's bodies change through the peri-menopause through to the menopause.


For some, the worsening of IBS can be very stressful and even debilitating. Symptoms overlap so it can be difficult to ascertain what is causing them. This in itself can be stressful, as you will read below, stress (cortisol) can heighten the symptoms. Lifestyle changes and de-stressing are a good place to start when trying to reduce abdominal pain during menopause.

Causes and symptoms of abdominal pain in menopause

As women’s oestrogen and progesterone levels reduce, some body processes are affected, including digestion. Hyperplasia means an unusual increase in cellular growth, and endometrial hyperplasia (the uterine lining) can overgrow, leading to abdominal pain and spotting.

When women supplement oestrogen and not progesterone, or they have a hormonal condition which means their oestrogen is unusually high, endometrial hyperplasia can develop. Other symptoms can include leg pain, an increase in urination, constipation and backache. The use of phytoestrogens as supplements for oestrogen, for example, soya, can be misplaced, as if there is a pre-existing endometrial hyperplasia, the phytoestrogens can worsen the condition.

Stress and abdominal pain

Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal glands. As cortisol levels fluctuate in line with life’s stresses and strains, oestrogen levels fluctuate as well. If too much cortisol is released, the digestive system can be affected, causing abdominal pain, discomfort and even diarrhoea. This is why some women experience digestive changes during their menstrual cycle, and this can worsen as they progress through peri-menopause through to the menopause.

What steps can you take to help alleviate the discomfort?

1. Adjust your diet and lifestyle

Try following a low-fat diet that contains plenty of high-fibre vegetables and avoid saturated fats (solid at room temperature.) It's important to maintain a heathy balanced weight, avoid smoking and include at least three sessions of exercise in your week.

2. Hormones and supplements can help

Remember to only introduce one at a time, and allow time for them to take effect. There is a tendency for people to saturate their bodies with multiple remedies, in the hope of help. The problem here is that they cannot tell which is effective. Individual introduction means you don't spend money unnecessarily, and you can also tell what works by monitoring changes in how you feel.

3. Hydration is extremely important for digestion

Sip throughout the day and avoid too much caffeine. Two cups of coffee or tea is sufficient. Swap to water and herbal teas for the rest of day, or just plain water. If you struggle with water, add sliced lemon, cucumber or mint leaves to add some flavour.

4. Be happy

Embrace the menopause as an opportunity to eat healthily, exercise regularly and work towards a fit and healthy ageing process. Try relaxation using yoga, Tai Chi, massage, and even quiet times at home. The menopause doesn't mean 'the end', it is simply a subtle change and a new sense of freedom.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Faversham ME13 & Folkestone CT19
Written by Victoria Shorland, Nutritionist, Allergy Testing, Phlebotomist, Faversham, Kent
Faversham ME13 & Folkestone CT19

Victoria Shorland runs The Therapy Clinic Rooms from Faversham, Kent. The clinic offers integrated services:
Virus Recovery Programme post Covid 19
Food intolerance testing available with instant results.
Specialist IBS/IBD clinic.
Candida/FODMAP clinic.
Consultant nutritionist clinic.
Hypnotherapy and CBT clinic.
Cancer tailored massage.

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