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Probiotics and Menopause: Nurturing Your Body through Hormonal Changes

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Menopause is a natural phase in a woman's life marked by complex hormonal changes. As egg reserves diminish, the body becomes more resistant to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), leading to increased FSH levels and a significant drop in oestrogen production from the ovaries. Testosterone and progesterone levels also decline during this time. Oestrogen plays a vital role in various bodily functions, including breast health, uterine function, skin health, bone density, and brain function. Thus, the reduction of oestrogen is considered the main cause of most menopausal symptoms.

Navigating Menopause Symptoms Menopause symptoms vary in combination and severity for each woman but often include irregular periods, heavy bleeding, hot flashes, night sweats, loss of bone density, headaches, dry mouth, weight gain, bloating, low libido, and mood fluctuations. In some cases, these symptoms persist even after menopause, accompanied by other issues such as vaginal dryness, itching, frequent urination, and recurrent urinary tract infections.

The severity of menopause symptoms may prompt some women to seek additional support, leading to prescription medications prescribed by doctors. Conventional treatments include hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which can alleviate low libido, hot flashes, and sweats while supporting bone health. However, HRT comes with potential side effects and may not be suitable for all women, as it may increase the risk of blood clots and breast cancer.

For those concerned about the risks and side effects of medications, natural solutions and dietary supplements become appealing alternatives to manage menopause symptoms.

The Microbiome's Role in Menopause A crucial aspect of a natural health approach to menopause is supporting the microbiome. Our bodies host colonies of microorganisms, especially in warm and moist areas like the gut, mouth, and, for women, the vaginal tract. Emerging research indicates that oestrogen levels can influence the composition and regulation of the oral, vaginal, and gut microbiota. Since these microorganisms impact various physiological functions, such as mood regulation, bone health, immune function, and metabolism, the relationship between gut microbiota and declining oestrogen levels could contribute to specific menopause symptoms, including dry mouth, vaginal dryness, weight gain, and compromised bone health.

To maintain a healthy microbiome during menopause, incorporating fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut into the diet is beneficial. Additionally, consuming natural plant foods like beans, pulses, legumes, fruits, and vegetables can be helpful due to their phytoestrogens, which aid in hormone balance and bone health while providing prebiotics to support gut bacteria. As the gut microbiome houses the largest number of microorganisms in the body, its health can influence the composition and well-being of other bacterial populations in the body.

Harnessing the Power of Probiotics during Menopause A targeted approach to support the microbiome during and after menopause involves using probiotic supplements that contain specific strains of live cultures with promising research for women's health and menopause symptoms.

Elevating Mood Certain probiotic strains have demonstrated the ability to improve mood. These strains have shown significant improvements in depression, anxiety, and overall gut health in clinical trials. Scientists from Harvard Medical School suggest that these bacteria may increase levels of neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin, contributing to enhanced mood. These strains are also valuable for general gut support.

Vaginal Health Support During menopause, vaginal tissues experience changes due to decreased oestrogen levels, leading to vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy. Research suggests that rather than the reduced oestrogen directly causing these changes, it may be linked to a reduction in probiotic bacteria in the vagina. These probiotic bacteria are essential for modulating the immune system and interfering with inflammation, preventing tissue damage. Oral probiotic therapy can support the vaginal "ecosystem" and prevent reductions in protective vaginal flora that cause dryness and irritation.

Preserving Bone Density Research on probiotics' role in reducing bone density loss following menopause has shown encouraging results. Specific probiotic strains demonstrated potential in maintaining bone density. Studies on mice revealed that probiotics prevented gut permeability associated with oestrogen loss, protecting bone density. Further clinical trials support the notion that probiotic supplementation can reduce age-dependent bone loss, providing a novel approach to prevent osteoporosis.

Taking Charge of Menopause with Probiotics While further research is needed, incorporating fermented foods and high-quality probiotics into the diet may support the microbiome and reduce menopausal symptoms. The intriguing link between hormone levels, gut, and vaginal flora opens the door to explore the potential benefits of probiotics in menopause management. For women seeking a more natural approach to alleviate symptoms, nurturing the microbiome could be a valuable addition to their menopause journey. Remember, small lifestyle changes can make significant differences in managing menopause and embracing this new phase of life with confidence and vitality.

If you would like to learn more about supporting the gut during peri-menopause and menopause please do get in touch.

You can book a free Digestive Health Review to discuss how simple changes to your gut health can make a big impact.

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