News Release

What's in your gut could be aggravating your menopause symptoms

New study suggests that stress and some gastrointestinal factors are associated with severity of menopause symptoms

Peer-Reviewed Publication

The Menopause Society

CLEVELAND, Ohio (October 10, 2023)—Over the last decade, a lot has been learned about what a person’s poop says about their overall health. Factors such as frequency of defecation and stool consistency can signify a number of health problems. A new study suggests that these same factors may affect the prevalence and intensity of menopause symptoms. Results of the study are published online in Menopause, the journal of The Menopause Society.  

As life expectancies continue to lengthen, the reality is that many women may spend 30% to 40% of their lives in postmenopause. Because up to 80% of women experience some menopause symptoms, chances are good that a woman’s quality of life is going to be affected for some period of time as a result of the menopause transition. For example, the average duration of hot flashes is 7.4 years, although some studies have shown that these symptoms can bother women for as long as 10 years or more.  

Sex steroids (or the lack of them in the case of menopause) have been shown to affect the female nervous system. Gut microbiota have also been shown to influence the nervous system, especially with regard to how a woman responds to stress. The relationship between sex steroids and gut microbiota is well documented. Not only do gut microbiota play an important role in the metabolism of female sex hormones, but sex hormones influence gut microbiota.

Because both sex hormones and gut microbiota change with age, especially during the menopause transition, researchers questioned whether there is a relationship between menopause symptoms, stress, and gastrointestinal issues in midlife women.  

In the first known study to attempt to evaluate this relationship, researchers analyzed data from nearly 700 midlife women. They concluded that stress and some gastrointestinal factors, including frequency of defecation and stool consistency, were associated with menopause symptoms. Specifically, they identified an association between stool consistency and hot flashes. Women with constipation experience more severe menopause symptoms compared with women with normal stool consistency. In addition, other factors, such as physical activity, body mass index, and diagnosis of depression or anxiety disorder were shown to be related to menopause symptoms and their severity.  

Study results are published in the article “Exploration of the association between menopausal symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, and perceived stress: survey-based analysis.”  

“This study shows a potential association between bowel habits and menopause symptoms. These findings highlight how the loss of estrogen at the time of menopause can affect multiple body systems and result in myriad symptoms that may be interrelated. The physiologic mechanisms underlying these  associations remain unclear and require additional study,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for The Menopause Society.  

For more information about menopause and healthy aging, visit  The Menopause Society (formerly The North American Menopause Society) is dedicated to empowering healthcare professionals and providing them with the tools and resources to improve the health of women during the menopause transition and beyond. As the leading authority on menopause since 1989, the nonprofit, multidisciplinary organization serves as the independent, evidence-based resource for healthcare professionals, researchers, the media, and the public and leads the conversation about improving women’s health and healthcare experiences. To learn more, visit 

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