Hormonal changes may be one of the reasons that cause constipation to affect more women than men
Constipation is a problem characterized by low bowel movement, with less than three bowel movements a week, stools and hardened stools, effort and / or pain to evacuate, in addition to persistent difficulty in evacuating or feeling of incomplete evacuation1.
The problem becomes chronic when constipation persists with some of these symptoms for three months. And in this case, the disease can have many causes, such as blockages in the colon (large intestine) or rectum, anal fissure, tumors or changes in the nerves of the colon or rectum, or conditions that affect hormones in the body, such as hypothyroidism1.
However, there are some factors that predispose to chronic constipation, such as1:
It is a fact that women appear in the group with a greater predisposition to constipation, and one of the hypotheses found by science is that the female pelvic muscles can suffer damage resulting from childbirth and gynecological surgical interventions, in addition to other disorders, very frequent during menopause2.
Other evidence shows the higher prevalence of the problem during pregnancy2, and also due to hormonal changes3 that happen to women throughout their lives, since the increase in the hormone progesterone contributes to the reduction of intestinal transit, which leads to constipation during the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy.
In addition, behavioral factors, histories of sexual, physical and emotional abuse can also be associated with dysfunctions of the digestive system2.
Constipation in pregnancy
Constipation is a very common complaint during pregnancy. To give you an idea, one to four pregnant women has the problem. There is little evidence of what can cause the problem, but it is possible to relate it to increased levels of progesterone, which decreases intestinal transit. As the hormone increases, the plasma concentration of motilin, an intestinal protein that stimulates the contraction of smooth intestinal fibers, decreases4.
Other factors that can cause constipation during pregnancy are lack of water intake, lack of physical activity, inadequate dietary program and insufficient amount of fiber4.
Constipation at menopause
The proportion of women with constipation increases as age advances, so it is possible to relate constipation to menopause. When the woman stops menstruating, there is a decrease in the estrogen hormone in the female body, also occurring anatomical and physiological changes.5.
How to relieve constipation?
Constipation treatment can have several aspects: with medication, behavioral changes or diet6. But remember that, regardless of the line, it is important to respect the evacuation reflex, that is, go to the bathroom when you feel like it, drink water and eat fiber6, in addition to putting other measures in the routine that help prevent and treat constipation. See below what you can do to give strength to the intestine:
Remember that all measures must be followed by the doctor.
1 – Mayo Clinic. Constipation. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/symptoms-causes/syc-20354253. Accessed on November 29, 2019.
2 – Garcia, LB; Bertolini, SMMG; Souza, MV; et al. Intestinal Constipation: Epidemiological and Clinical Aspects. Revista Saúde e Pesquisa (2016); v. 9, n. 1, 153: 162. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.177651/1983-1870.2016v9n1p153-162.
3 – Chiarelli, P., Brown, W. and McElduff, P. Constipation in Australian Women: Prevalence and Associated Factors. International Urogynecol Journal (2000); 11:71. https://doi.org/10.1007/s001920050073.
4 – Kawaguti FS; Klug WA; Fang CB; et al. Constipation in Pregnancy. Revista Brasileira Coloproctologia (2008); 28 (1): 046-049. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Fabio_Kawaguti/publication/262506862_Constipation_in_pregnancy/links/5448ec220cf2f14fb814526a/Constipation-in-pregnancy.pdf.
5 – Oliveira, SCM, Pinto-Neto AM; Count, DM; et al. Intestinal Constipation in Postmenopausal Women. Brazilian Medical Association Magazine (2005); 51 (6), 334: 41. https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-42302005000600017.
6 – Brazilian Federation of Gastroenterology. The Important Role of Diets for Digestive Health. Available at: http://www.hospitalsantalucinda.com.br/downloads/saude-digestiva.pdf. Accessed on November 29, 2019.
7 – Dulcolax® (Product package insert). Sanofi-Aventis Farmacêutica Ltda. Available at: https://www.dulco.com.br/static_resources/bulas/bula-dulcolax-paciente.pdf. Accessed on February 10, 2020 .