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The connections between menopause and nausea are not completely understood, but the most prominent theories assert that menopausal nausea stems from hormone fluctuations. A woman’s hormone levels can fluctuate widely during menopause, and resulting hormonal imbalances are thought to cause many cases of nausea. Further links are believed to exist between nausea and the stress associated with menopause as well. Other factors that might exacerbate nausea symptoms during menopause are fatigue, lack of exercise, and poor dietary habits.
The two key hormones believed to influence menopause-related nausea are estrogen and progesterone. Both of these hormones are produced by the ovaries. During menopause, progesterone and estrogen levels can rise and fall dramatically, which in turn can lead to hormonal imbalances. Many scientists believe that when progesterone levels drop significantly, a wide range of gastrointestinal issues can result. These issues include, but are not limited to, heartburn, gas, nausea, and diarrhea.
Many women who experience menopause and nausea feel worse in the mornings. This fact illuminates the parallel between menopausal nausea and the well-known phenomenon of morning sickness. Morning sickness is a common symptom of pregnancy that is influenced by changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. The similarity between morning sickness and menopausal nausea lends added support to the idea that menopause-related nausea is largely the result of hormonal changes.
In addition to being influenced by hormonal changes, menopause and nausea are connected by other factors. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is sensitive to anxiety and stress. Women who suffer from common menopause symptoms such as insomnia and night sweats can become very stressed and fatigued over time. Such fatigue and stress is believed to trigger nausea in some cases. The blood sugar changes that are also sometimes seen in menopause might enter the equation as well. Some scientists believe that blood pressure and nausea may be linked, too. Additionally, not getting enough exercise and eating a poor diet could make a woman more prone to nausea by decreasing her overall state of health.
Not all women experience nausea during menopause. Women who do experience nausea can have extremely variable symptoms. Nausea is a minor, occasional nuisance for some, while it can be a daily struggle for others. Many women with less severe nausea succeed at managing their own symptoms with rest, cutting down on caffeine and alcohol, and the occasional use of over-the-counter medicines for nausea relief.
Nausea often resolves itself naturally over time, but treatment may be needed in severe or chronic nausea cases. Hormone replacement therapies that raise estrogen or progesterone levels are common treatments. Any hormone replacement therapy has associated risks, however, so women should always consult with their doctors to decide on the best course of treatment. Science is still revealing the connections between menopause and nausea. While the interplay of many complex factors contributes to nausea, the majority of women who seek help are able to benefit from existing treatment approaches.