Nausea is more often more associated with pregnancy rather than the menopause. In both instances nausea is triggered by lowering levels of progesterone. Here, our menopause expert Eileen Durward explores the relationship between nausea and other menopausal symptoms whilst also recommending a range of natural treatments to soothe any unsettled feelings of queasiness.
Nausea can be extremely unpleasant, and many people do not realise that it is sometimes a symptom of the menopause. Nausea most often occurs during the peri-menopause, and the symptom is usually at its worst in the morning. It can be accompanied by other PMS-like symptoms.
Nausea can be described as an uncomfortable feeling usually in the upper stomach, characterised by an urge to vomit. Although this feeling usually precedes vomiting, this is not always the case with the menopause.
Although the exact link between the menopause and nausea is not yet fully understood, it is thought that a change in hormone levels causes the symptom. Similar to pregnancy causing morning sickness, the menopause is a time of your life when your hormones are radically fluctuating, in particular, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
It is thought that reduced levels of the hormone progesterone cause gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, indigestion and heartburn, all of which may also lead to nausea.
Additionally, nausea may be caused or worsened by stress or fatigue. Both of these conditions are commonly associated with the menopause. If you are feeling overworked, then looking for ways of improving this may help to lift your feeling of nausea.
Looking after your digestive system is often the first way to avoid or improve your symptoms of nausea. If you eat fatty, greasy or spicy food you are more likely to feel the after-effects of it. Avoiding eating altogether can also worsen your nausea. Instead, try to eat a small amount of very plain food, such as crackers. It is important not to eat too much, but a little may help to settle your stomach. Making sure that your blood sugar is balanced is important, as low blood sugar may contribute to your symptoms.
Avoid sitting in a hot, stuffy or smelly room, as this will only make you feel even queasier. Try to get some fresh air and breathe deeply, as this will create a rhythmic pattern in the stomach. Unless your nausea is unbearable, then keeping yourself occupied and your mind off the nausea will often help you get through the day.
It’s also important to consider what you drink. Try to avoid tea, coffee, sugary and fizzy drinks.
As the causes of nausea during the menopause can be broad, there are a number of ways to help relieve the symptom.
Most commonly, nausea comes at the early part of the menopause when a woman is still menstruating (more or less) regularly, and accompanied by PMS-like symptoms, such as period pains or bloating. If this is the case, try Agnus castus in the first instance.
If you have not found a combination of home and herbal remedies to be effective, then it may be time to look for a conventional medicine. It is important to consult your doctor, before taking medications, as then you will be able to find the most effective treatment for you. Treatments include antihistamines and steroid treatments.
If your nausea is a side-effect of HRT then you may be able to find an alternative type of treatment. You will need to consult with your doctor to see what is available and suited to you.
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You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.