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When It Comes To Menopause Symptoms, Race & Culture Matter

| Super User | Contour

Depending your race and culture, your menopausal symptoms may vary.

Women going through menopause may also have GI difficulties like indigestion, nausea, or bloating. A recent study published in Menopause, the Journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), found a link between gastrointestinal disorders, menopausal stage, race, and ethnicity

Midlife women from 4 races/ethnicities were studied.

In two internet-based investigations, 1,051 midlife women's health problems were studied. The four women were Hispanic, non-Hispanic white, African American, and Asian. They were pre-, peri-, and post-menopausal. The team considered age, education, marital status, family income, occupation, and other sociodemographic and health-related characteristics (body mass index or BMI, perceived health status, and diagnosed GI diseases).

Sherri-Ann Burnett-Bowie, MD, MPH, head of multicultural affairs at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the researchers acknowledged cultural variables including food and pain perception but did not evaluate them. She adds that cultural differences in symptom reporting comfort may have affected the study's results. Self-reported symptoms were collected.

White non-Hispanic women have more digestive issues

Researchers found a link between race and ethnicity and menopausal GI issues. Post-menopause increased the intensity and frequency of stomach complaints in all groups. Non-Hispanic Asian women reported fewer and milder symptoms than the other three groups. Non-Hispanic white women had worse nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and appetite loss. Hispanics had higher severity scores for constipation, weight gain, and bloating than non-Hispanic African Americans.

Menopause causes weight gain, bloating, and GI symptoms.

Menopause and GI issues are linked, but no one knows why. Researchers blame a decline in estrogen and a spike in cortisol. Dr. Burnett-Bowie noted that research published in Women's Midlife Health in August 2019 showed stomach pain decreased with age and menopause.

If diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms persist, see a doctor.

If you have more diarrhea, bloating, nausea, or stomach pain, see your doctor. It can be a symptom of menopause or another ailment. Burnett-Bowie, a SWAN Study investigator, says colonoscopies should begin at 50.

Long-term research is needed to understand GI issues.

This research is important. Burnett-Bowie notes that the data are exploratory and that the ladies were not investigated longitudinally. Instead of following one group through each phase, the researchers analyzed three groups of women. Burnett-Bowie says more research is needed to determine if the same women's GI issues improve, stay the same, or worsen.

Post-menopausal women report greater GI problems overall and more severe symptoms, according to one study. GI symptom reporting shows racial/ethnic inequalities, similar to menopause symptoms. Further study is needed to validate these findings and discover the optimal therapeutic methods for midlife women with new GI symptoms, said Stephanie Faubion, MD, NAMS's medical director.