Signs you might need a probiotic during menopause

Eileen Durward
Ask Eileen

20 September 2021

Today's topic:

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I look at signs that might indicate that you need a probiotic and how they can help you during menopause.

I often recommend probiotics to women in peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause for various things. But I haven't looked at this as a specific topic in detail. So, I thought I would take a closer look at probiotics, explaining what they are, signs that may indicate that you need them, and what you can do to help yourself.

What are probiotics & why are they needed?

We naturally have billions of bacteria lining the length of our digestive tract, and these bacteria support so many different aspects of our health, not just our digestion.

However, during menopause, falling oestrogen can affect the whole digestive tract and that can impact your friendly bacteria.

One of the ways in which you can rectify this is to take a supplement called a probiotic or eat food, which contain these beneficial bacteria.

What are the signs that you need a probiotic?

The key to good health is to achieve an optimal balance of both good and bad bacteria. If the levels of bad bacteria start to overtake the good, you can start to experience certain symptoms and signs.

These symptoms and signs could indicate that you might need to top up your friendly bacteria, to help protect this delicate balance and this is where probiotics come in.

So, some signs to look out for include:

1. You are experiencing digestive troubles

If you find that you're getting a lot of bloating, wind, cramping, maybe a little bit of constipation or a sluggish bowel, that is often a really good indication that something is happening with your friendly bacteria and it needs some help.

2. You are having sugar cravings

Once your digestion gets upset, that will have a real big knock-on effect on other areas of your health, including things like sugar cravings.
For a lot of menopausal women, blood sugar levels can become very unstable, which can cause cravings, but also, lack of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract can be another factor as well.

3. You are getting skin problems

If you get skin issues, such as itchy skin and skin rashes this can be another sign that your friendly bacteria are out of balance. If you're not eliminating particularly well, if you're getting constipation, very often, the toxins that your body is trying to get rid of will be sitting in the gut for quite a while and they can end up being recycled around the body.
Very often, the body will throw these out through the skin. So, if you find that you're getting bloating, constipation, itchy skin, or skin rashes, very often, these are very closely connected.

4. You are experiencing vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness can be a big issue in menopause. And again, you also have friendly bacteria in the vagina. These help to keep the vagina moist. They help with the mucus. But these friendly bacteria also protect the urethra, which is the opening to the bladder.

5. You keep getting UTI's

If you start to have problems with vaginal dryness, this can very often lead to the next symptom which is repeated urinary tract infections. The problem here is when these occur, very often, the first thing you do is take antibiotics. These are going to kill off more friendly bacteria in the vagina. And this can then compound this vicious cycle of urinary tract infections, antibiotics, and then another infection, and so on.

6. You have recently had antibiotics

And lastly, if you have had antibiotics for anything, they can have quite an impact on the friendly bacteria in your digestive tract as well. A lot of women do tell me that after antibiotics, they may get bloating, wind, and cramping, and sometimes, diarrhoea.

Types of probiotics

What you need to look at in any of these situations, if you are looking for a probiotic supplement, make sure you get the right one.

If it's digestive problems, then you would go for a digestive one. If it's vaginal problems or urinary tract infections, then there is a specific probiotic for this type of situation.

You can get probiotics in different forms. You can get capsules. Some of them, you sprinkle into a drink. You can get just a powder that you can sprinkle onto your food as well.

The ones I tend to recommend if you're in the UK and Ireland, are from a lovely company called Optibac. They have a huge range of probiotics, including one for women which contains friendly bacteria strains especially found in the vaginal & urinary tracts.

Probiotics are also available through our diet. They can be found in fermented foods like yoghurt and cheese which are rich in natural bacteria.

So, I hope this has been helpful for you. It's amazing how these little, friendly bacteria that we never see can have such a big impact on our health. If any of you have any questions, or queries, or any tips as well, then we would love to hear about them.

Key things to take away from this blog:

  • Probiotics are live microorganisms that help support the friendly bacteria in your body.
  • Signs your friendly bacteria need a helping hand include; digestive issues such as bloating and constipation, constant sugar cravings, skin problems such as itchy skin and rashes, vaginal dryness, reoccurring UTI's and if you have recently had antibiotics.
  • Probiotics can be found in some foods and taken as a supplement.

Until next week, take care.

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