As women, our hormones have a significant impact on our overall health and well-being. This is particularly true when it comes to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a common digestive disorder that affects millions of women around the world.
While there are many factors that can contribute to IBS symptoms, the role of estrogen cannot be ignored. In fact, research has shown that low levels of this essential hormone can greatly exacerbate IBS symptoms in women.
If you suffer from the discomfort and frustration of IBS, understanding the connection between estrogen and this condition is crucial for finding relief and improving your quality of life. Today we will take a closer look at how low estrogen could be making your IBS worse, and what steps you can take to manage it effectively. To check your hormone levels and find effective treatment to help improve your overall health, book an appointment with our team today.
IBS can be a challenging digestive disorder to manage for the estimated 15% of Americans who experience its symptoms. Belly pain, cramps, and bloating can be uncomfortable enough, but the added complications of diarrhea and constipation can make going about daily life a struggle.
Common symptoms of IBS include:
Beyond the physical symptoms, IBS can also take a toll on mental health and well-being. Many women report feelings of anxiety, depression, and social isolation due to their IBS symptoms. This is not surprising when you consider the unpredictable nature of the condition and its potential to disrupt daily routines and activities. This is why finding effective ways to manage IBS symptoms is crucial for maintaining your quality of life.
Researchers have recently discovered that sex hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, may trigger IBS symptoms. A drop in these hormones can decrease vital functions such as stomach acid and bile production, and affect the muscles within the digestive system.
Identifying if you have low estrogen can be a challenge as symptoms can be subtle and vary from woman to woman. However, there are certain signs you may notice if your estrogen levels are lower than they should be. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional who can provide further testing to confirm your estrogen levels. These symptoms can include:
Low estrogen in women can be caused by various factors across different age groups. One common cause is menopause, which occurs naturally as women age and leads to a decline in estrogen production. Younger women may experience hormonal imbalances due to certain lifestyle factors like excessive exercise, being overweight, or experiencing high stress. Medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy can also cause low estrogen.
Our bodies are complex and intricate, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the process of digestion. Many factors contribute to how food moves through our system, but one of the most important is the role of hormones, including our sex hormones.
These tiny chemical messengers control the smooth muscle in our intestines, which ultimately dictates how quickly or slowly food travels through our system. For instance, in a recent study, animals who received a lower dose of hormones took significantly longer to empty their intestines than those who received a higher one.
When estrogen levels are low, it can affect the muscles in our digestive system, leading to slower digestion and constipation. This can make symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) worse for those already experiencing bloating, abdominal discomfort, and irregular bowel movements. The reduced muscle tone in the digestive tract can contribute to food stagnation and increased water absorption, which can amplify the discomfort in women with IBS.
Belly pain and abdominal cramps are common symptoms of IBS. These can vary in intensity and are often accompanied by changes in bowel movements.
Proper levels of estrogen can help alleviate the severity of belly pain and abdominal cramps. This is because estrogen plays a significant role in regulating the production of serotonin, which is responsible for creating a sense of comfort and well-being in our bodies. Decreased estrogen levels can reduce serotonin production, a neurotransmitter that impacts mood, sleep, and other bodily functions.
When estrogen levels dip, the production of serotonin drops, making it more difficult to manage pain. This is why women who have lower estrogen levels may experience more intense and frequent belly pain and cramps associated with IBS.
Inflammation is a natural response by our immune system to protect us against harmful stimuli. However, too much inflammation can lead to a host of health problems, especially for women who suffer from IBS.
When IBS triggers inflammation, it mainly affects the gut lining and digestive system. This inflammation can make the intestines swollen, causing food to move either too quickly or too slowly through the intestines and resulting in diarrhea or constipation.
Additionally, inflammation can also affect the nervous system in and around the gut, making IBS pain and discomfort worse. In some cases, the immune response may cause systemic inflammation, impacting other parts of the body and potentially worsening conditions like arthritis, skin disorders, or autoimmune diseases.
Estrogen has anti-inflammatory properties, so it helps control the production and activity of immune cells responsible for inflammation. However, when estrogen levels drop, your body struggles to regulate these cells effectively. This ultimately results in increased inflammation and potentially worsening IBS symptoms.
Many women who suffer from IBS struggle with the negative impact of stress on their condition. The body’s physical response to emotional stress is largely regulated by the hormone cortisol, which can exacerbate the symptoms of IBS if left unchecked.
When your body is constantly in a heightened state of stress, it can disrupt the balance of hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate digestion. This can lead to increased IBS symptoms, including bloating, gas, and pain in the abdominal area. In addition, chronic stress can trigger flare-ups or make existing symptoms worse for those with IBS.
Estrogen plays a critical role in managing your body’s stress levels. It regulates the production and activity of cortisol. By effectively moderating cortisol levels, estrogen prevents it from reaching harmful levels.
However, when estrogen levels are low, this delicate balance is disrupted, and cortisol can become imbalanced, leading to increased stress and worsening physical symptoms. Understanding the complex relationship between estrogen, cortisol, and IBS is crucial for limiting the impact of stress on your condition.
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of low estrogen on top of your IBS, you don’t need to suffer alone. Our dedicated team provides personalized care and support, addressing your concerns and meeting your needs. We offer hormone replacement therapy to increase estrogen levels and restore balance in your body.
Contact us now to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards improving your quality of life. We are here to help and support you every step of the way!