Perimenopause and Nausea
Nausea and Perimenopause
Are you experiencing nausea in your middle age? Are you certain that you are not pregnant? Perimenopause may be the reason for those unsettled feelings in your stomach.
Perimenopause is the period of time prior to menopause or permanent infertility. It is sometimes called the menopausal transition.
Very few doctors acknowledge a link between nausea and perimenopause. However, this symptom may affect women in their 40s as they transition towards menopause.
Older women experience nausea like young, pregnant women experience morning sickness. Headaches and fatigue often accompany an upset stomach.
Many perimenopausal symptoms are well documented: irregular menstrual periods, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, brain fog, lactose intolerance, low sexual desire, and much more.
While there is little scientific evidence to link perimenopause and nausea, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence from perimenopausal women themselves. Many of these women wonder what they are experiencing, and how to alleviate the discomfort. Maybe you are one of them.
What Causes Nausea?
Since there is very little research to document the relationship between nausea and perimenopause, the cause is left to speculation.
According to one theory, the nausea results from hormone imbalances. Estrogen and progesterone, the chief female sex hormones, fluctuate during the menopausal transition. This can lead to nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive problems.
Stress and Fatigue
Another theory suggests that stress and fatigue cause perimenopausal nausea. Stressful situations at home or work contribute to fatigue. They can also cause motion sickness-like symptoms that lead to nausea.
Some studies link fatigue to mixed brain signals that overstimulate the eyes and ears. This, too, can cause feelings of nausea.
Nutritionists and holistic practitioners think diet is the culprit. They say that the wrong foods can cause shifting hormones that contribute to feelings of nausea. Whether the cause is food, hormones, or both, healthy eating can eliminate or reduce many perimenopausal symptoms.
The Best Foods for Nausea
Healthy eating and regular exercise are good ways to manage nausea and other perimenopausal symptoms.
Tell Me What to Eat as I Approach Menopause, a book by Elaine Magee, discusses the best foods and drinks for a perimenopausal diet.
Not only do they relieve the symptoms of perimenopause, but they also promote weight management and heart health. To manage nausea, Magee offers the following tips:
- Eat more soy-based products. Soy and soy isoflavones support a broad range of perimenopausal symptoms, including nausea.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Plant-based foods contain plant estrogens called phytoestrogens that may alleviate nausea.
- Replace bad fats with good fats. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and nuts, may ease perimenopausal symptoms.
- Eliminate caffeinated drinks. Replace coffee and soft drinks with water and unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices.
- Avoid greasy, fatty, and sugary foods. They can wreak havoc on your hormones, leading to nausea and other perimenopausal symptoms.
- Eliminate the large meals. Instead of eating three large meals, eat several smaller meals throughout the day.
- Exercise on a regular basis. Physical activity combats stress and fatigue, which may contribute to nausea.
Other Ways to Treat Nausea
To prevent morning nausea, lactose intolerance, and other perimenopausal symptoms, some women avoid milk and dairy products. Others limit foods and drinks that contain caffeine, iron, and zinc.
Crackers and dry toast can help women manage nausea in the morning. Herbal teas can also help. Try dandelion, ginger, licorice, and peppermint teas.
Some women benefit from vitamin B6, vitamin E, and mineral supplements like Amberen. For others, herbal supplements like evening primrose and soy isoflavones are helpful. Since supplements can interact with medications, women should check with their doctor before taking vitamins and herbs for perimenopausal symptoms.
Some women need a prescription or over-the-counter medications to treat their nausea. Others may benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Chronic nausea and vomiting requires medical attention to rule out other, potentially serious conditions.
The information presented in this article is not intended as health or medical advice, nor is it a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional.
How do you cope with nausea and related symptoms? Leave a comment below, and join the conversation.
- 34 Menopause Symptoms. (2013) "Fatigue and Nausea." 34 Menopause Symptoms. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
- Magee, Elaine. (September 20, 2002) "Managing Menopause Symptoms Through Diet." Medicinenet.com. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
- Mayo Clinic. (April 20, 2013) "Perimenopause." Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
- Walker, Nancy. (April 4, 2013). "What is the Connection Between Perimenopause and Nausea?" wiseGEEK. Retrieved Jun 12, 2013.
© 2013 Annette R. Smith