Normally you’d get up, enjoy some breakfast and crack on with your busy schedule.
But these days, the mere thought of food repels you. You’re more likely to be found hugging the toilet bowl.
This can’t be morning sickness, right...?
Is nausea a symptom of the menopause and perimenopause? Yes it is. Do we fully know why? Nope, unfortunately not.
What we do know is it’s more likely to occur in the perimenopause, and especially in the morning. One theory as to why this happens is that lower levels of progesterone can lead to gastrointestinal problems like bloating, heartburn and indigestion to name a few – all of which can cause a feeling of nausea.
Other perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms like fatigue and anxiety can cause nausea and digestive problems too. Stress in the brain can send your gut into overdrive.
Add this to low levels of oestrogen paving the way for high levels of stress hormone cortisol and fight-or-flight adrenaline, and it’s no wonder that our digestive function seemingly goes out of the window.
As women move from the perimenopause and into the menopause, they may find their nausea subsides and is replaced with gale-force winds, constipation and stomachache.
Not exactly a winning forecast but we’re here to help you through the storm.
Feeling pukey really isn’t fun. In fact, any digestive issue – diarrhoea, constipation, bloating (the list goes on) – are all pretty grim. That’s why it’s important to take steps to manage your symptoms, both for your physical and mental wellbeing.
If you’re on HRT and struggling with nausea, speak to your doctor as this may be a side-effect of the treatment.
SEE A DOCTOR IF…
If your appetite has decreased for no good reason – if you have a feeling of fullness – and if you have bloating, pains and a change in bowel habit please see your GP to rule out significant causes of your symptoms
CHEW YOUR FOOD
We’re not trying to teach you to suck (or chew) eggs here – we’re just saying that sometimes we’re in that much of a rush, we can end up shoving food down our chops rather than actually eating properly.
Chewing is the start of the digestive process, and the enzymes in your saliva start breaking grub down there and then. Miss it and you’re sending big chunks of whatever’s for lunch down for your stomach to do all the hard work.
MAKE PROPER TIME TO EAT
On that note, especially at work, we can get into bad habits of eating on the move. The rise in popularity of ‘food to go’ hasn’t exactly drilled home the importance of giving your body time to start the digestion process.
If you eat while moving, your body actually sends energy away from the digestive system to power itself through the exercise.
Give yourself a good half-hour where possible to eat and rest before getting your heart rate up.
KEEP A FOOD DIARY
It may be that hormonal fluctuations combined with certain trigger foods are what’s causing your upset tummy.
Keep a daily food diary for around a month, not only writing down what you eat but if you felt dodgy after having it. What happened? Were you nauseous? Did it give you horrid wind? Stomach cramps?
Doing this may help you identify the ingredients that don’t agree with you so you can avoid them in the future.
EAT LITTLE AND OFTEN
Rather than sticking to three ample meals a day, you may find you can ease this symptom by eating smaller amounts at frequent intervals.
Make sure you choose foods higher in energy-packed carbohydrates and low in fats like bread, crackers and pasta, as these may be more delicate on your digestive system than rich, heavy meals.
SIP LOTS OF WATER
Staying hydrated is important if you’re suffering with perimenopause or menopause nausea and digestive problems. You should ideally be drinking at least two litres across the course of a day.
Sip slowly rather than gulping to give your body time to adjust – sipping may also help prevent vomiting.
TRY AN ACUPRESSURE BAND
Acupressure bands put pressure on certain points in the wrist. In Chinese medicine, it’s believed to restore the balance of negative (Yin) and positive (Yang) qualities in the body.
Some swear by them to help with travel and morning sickness. You can pick one up for less than £10 in most pharmacies so it may be worth a try if nausea is getting in the way of normal life.
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
Nausea and digestive problems really get in the way of leading a normal, happy life. There are things you can do to take the pressure off while their hormones settle down.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
Our hints for them include taking proper time out to enjoy food and chewing it properly, eating little and often, and sipping water. All these things can improve digestive health and put a stop to feeling sick.
We’ve also suggested that they keep a food diary to see if there are any particular things that set them off.
MAKE THEM COMFY
Is there anything you can do to make them more physically comfortable?
It could be as simple as opening a window, getting them a glass of water or letting them stretch out on the sofa. What do they need?
ASK THEM TO EXPLAIN
Don’t assume you know what they feel like. Gently ask them to explain the effect it is having on them physically and emotionally.
You may not be able to do anything to make them feel better. But they may not want answers, they may just need to talk – and be properly heard. Switch your listening ears on and give them your full attention.
SUGGEST AN ACUPRESSURE BAND
Acupressure bands are typically used by pregnant people struggling with morning sickness and those who suffer from travel sickness. If they haven’t tried one for their nausea, it might be worth suggesting one.
If you’re worried about nausea and digestive problems, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.
If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you: