Your Gut Microbiome in Menopause

In this article Dr. Barton Explains the Connection Between Menopause and the Gut Microbiome

By Dr Fionnuala Barton
woman making heart hand over her bare belly

Your gut microbiome is the diverse community of microorganisms living in your gut. It plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall health, influencing your immune function, digestion, metabolism, and even bodyweight.

The Gut Microbiome in Menopause

Emerging research suggests that menopause can have a significant impact on the composition and function of the gut microbiome. At the same time, gut microbes may exert reciprocal impact on hormone regulation. 

Introducing the Estrobolome

The “Estrobolome” is a group of specific bacteria within the wider gut microbiome that play a role in regulating circulating oestrogen. Changes in this specific group of microbes have the potential to have a significant impact on our hormone health.  

Fluctuations in hormone levels during perimenopause and persistently low levels in menopause can alter the gut environment, leading to changes in microbial diversity and composition. These changes may contribute to symptoms commonly associated with menopause, such as weight gain, mood swings, and gastrointestinal issues. 

Did you know that 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut and a subset of microbes are involved in this process as well as the production of other important neurotransmitters that help regulate the nervous system?

As such, our gut health (and the food we eat which influence our gut health) has a very direct effect on our emotional, mental and cognitive health.

Studies have also observed that disruptions in the gut microbiome being linked to an increased risk of certain health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and metabolic disorders, which are more prevalent during and after menopause. 

Supporting Your Gut Garden

You can support a healthy gut microbiome during menopause through dietary and lifestyle changes. These include:

  • Eating a diet rich in fibre, prebiotics, and probiotics
  • Taking regular exercise
  • Managing stress
  • Getting adequate sleep

Alcohol, added sugars, and ultra-processed foods can disrupt the balance of beneficial microbes, so avoiding these as much as possible is likely to be key to supporting good gut heath.

By nurturing a healthy gut microbiome, you can potentially mitigate menopausal symptoms and reduce your risk of developing associated health conditions. This ultimately can help with your overall well-being during this transitional phase of life. However, gut health is important irrespective of age or gender, so including the whole family in the nurturing process is a good idea.