Six easy tips to ditch menopausal constipation
Updated: Jul 4
We Brits don’t tend to talk about our bowel habits – unless we are making jokes, of course.
It’s one of the reasons why many people simply accept constipation as ‘one of those things’, something that we just have to get on with.
If you’ve never really discussed bowel movements with anyone, how do you know if you are going to the toilet as much as you should?
Likewise, if we never talk about how different stages of life affect our toilet habits, how could you possibly know that constipation is one of the symptoms that can easily crop up during menopause. And yet is one that can just as easily be sorted.
So, if like many people going through menopause, constipation is giving you trouble, try my simple tips to get your constipation moving.
First: what is constipation?
Officially, according to the NHS, constipation is when you find yourself going to the toilet less than 3 times in a week, and if the poop is large and dry, hard or lumpy.
For many people, this doesn’t seem any different to usual. That doesn’t mean it isn’t constipation though. Ideally, everyone should be moving their bowels every day and anyone experiencing less than this could do with trying out some of these tips to ensure a regular and healthy bowel movement.
What can cause constipation?
Changing hormones – especially during pregnancy and menopause, increased weight, lack of sleep and poor diet can all contribute to your bowels slowing down. Likewise, a lack of exercise, stress, certain medicines and even changes to your daily routine can cause constipation.
It means that constipation is likely to happen to all of us at some time, and is even more likely during menopause when many of these factors collide.
To help you through this frustrating menopause symptom, here are six simple tips to get constipation moving:
1. Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water throughout the day helps keep your stool softer and easier to pass.
Caffeine is often considered by many as a handy way to move your bowels, but this isn't a good long term solution. Better to hydrate your way to healthy bowels! Reducing alcohol can also help. Staying well hydrated can help with many other menopause symptoms.
2. Move your body. Exercise is key for keeping everything moving - including your bowels. If you aren't able to get out for a full-on exercise session, just aim to walk every day if you are able.
And if you aren't able to do that, try to ensure you are sitting well - slouching squashes your abdomen, slowing everything down. 3. Increase your fibre intake by eating more whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. If you are short on time, baked beans on granary toast makes a classic fibre-rich and satisfying meal. 4. Look after your gut bacteria. Aim to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables as they encourage the good bacteria in your digestive system. For an extra boost, try out fermented foods such as natural yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir. They help provide the optimum conditions in your digestive tract to digest food properly and for that food to move through your system effectively. 5. Chew your foods well - give your digestion a chance to properly do its job by getting the first stage done before you even swallow your food. This one tip can make a surprising difference to a lot of digestive issues. 6. Give yourself time to poop, and don't delay heading to the loo if you need to go. Re-connect your mind and body so that when you need to go to the loo, you actually go there. You might also want to consider putting your feet up on a stool when you go to the toilet. The best natural position for pooping is actually in a squatting position which is actually pretty tricky in most modern bathrooms. Using a foot stool to bring you into a more natural position can really help your body perform better when it comes to popping.
Menopause and constipation - when to ask for help
If you can incorporate at least a few of these ideas into your everyday, you should find things easier. If things don't improve, it is important to speak to your doctor.
There are lots of surprising ways that menopause can affect your body - the list of symptoms is always growing, which is why there is never a one size fits all answer to menopause.
To learn more about menopause training, head here where I share details of the various courses I offer.