Ever noticed a change in your poop routine before your periods? Well! That’s one example of female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) affecting your gut health. But, there’s more to hormone-gut interaction. Keep reading to understand how hormones impact your digestive health.

What Are The Signs of an Unhealthy Gut?

Knowing the signs of compromised gut health helps differentiate between hormone-led gut issues and changes because of an unhealthy gut. Common symptoms of poor gut health include:

  • Frequent bouts of gas, constipation, diarrhea, bloating
  • Sensitivity to certain foods
  • Weight changes despite a nutritious diet
  • Fatigue
  • Skin allergies
  • Lazy bowel syndrome
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • “Leaky” Gut Syndrome
  • Obesity

Can Hormone Imbalance Cause Gut Problems?

Yes, hormonal fluctuations or imbalances can influence the pace of food movement through the intestines, resulting in diarrhea or constipation. For example, low progesterone levels in post-menopausal women cause constipation. Similarly, the increase in estrogen and progesterone during the second phase of the menstrual cycle can cause stomach and digestive discomfort.

How Does Hormonal Imbalance Lead to Gut Health Issues?

Women experience hormonal shifts primarily during periods, pregnancy, and menopause. When your periods are almost a week away, progesterone levels rise and relax the colon. It results in constipation or a delay in achieving defecation reflex. Later, estrogen also hits bottom just before your periods, increasing the possibility of digestive issues. In most cases, these issues start resolving when your period begins. However, the release of prostaglandins that result in muscle contractions and pain during periods may induce diarrhea in some women.

Similarly, elevated progesterone during pregnancy slows intestinal muscle contractions and makes pooping harder. When menopause occurs, estrogen and progesterone take a nosedive permanently. Consequently, post-menopausal women experience slow digestion, bloating, and constipation, among other symptoms.

Does Gut Health Affect Hormones?

Yes, gastrointestinal health affects hormones. It is because gut flora (estrobolome) has a significant role in estrogen regulation. When healthy microorganisms no longer love living in your gut, estrogen production takes a hit. It may lead to low estrogen-related diseases such as PCOS.

Alternatively, estrogen dominance may occur if gut dysbiosis causes excess beta-glucuronidase production. The reabsorption of the unconjugated active form of estrogen back into the bloodstream (because of beta-glucuronidase) may lead to high estrogen-related diseases such as endometriosis and breast cancer.

Gut health also helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, which are associated with maintaining a balance of estrogen and progesterone.

How Can I Balance My Hormones and Improve Gut Health?

Restoring or maintaining hormonal balance and improving gut health are not one-time tasks. Besides clinical intervention, they require following a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few useful tips for you.

  • Drink 7-10 glasses of water every day. It hydrates the colon and eases the transit of stool through it.
  • Select a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet.
  • Include prebiotics in your diet to maintain healthy gut flora.
  • Limit the intake of refined sugar, simple carbs, trans fats, and salt.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners; they adversely affect hormonal health and the gut microbiome.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.

Gut health and hormonal imbalance share a two-way relationship. Hormonal ups and downs can affect your gut health, and a gut microbiome imbalance can lead to hormonal vicissitudes. Therefore, caring for both is the best way to achieve optimum health.

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