Does menopause cause gut issues? The research

Does menopause cause gut issues? The research

In the first study of its kind, research of over 1,500 women going through menopause reveals how significantly gut health changes during perimenopause and menopause. 

The research, conducted by DR.VEGAN®, revealed:

  • 91% of women surveyed experienced changes in their gut health during menopause.
  • Bloating, excessive wind and gas, constipation, acid reflux, and mild or severe IBS are the most common symptoms experienced.
  • Nearly two-thirds of women first noticed their gut health changing during perimenopause, compared to a third during menopause.
  • Two-thirds of women said changing their diet was effective in combating symptoms of changing gut health.
  • The award-winning Gut Works® was shown to be the most effective probiotic for combating gut health issues and symptoms of menopause

The research also revealed 8 of the worst symptoms of menopause that impact women the most, including exhaustion, social anxiety, mild depression, and feelings of worthlessness. Dr Katie Hodgkinson, GP, hormone health expert and lifestyle medicine doctor commented, "This is likely to be one of the first surveys of its kind. It reveals invaluable data on gut health and menopause, and highlights the importance of women investing in their diet at this time". Download Highlights of Menopause & Gut Health Research

Here we share the most common changes in gut health during perimenopause and menopause, how they affect women, the most effective changes in diet, and the most effective probiotic supplements for gut health during menopause. 

8 Gut health changes during menopause

IBS is a common symptom of menopause, and while health professionals have all agreed for a long time that the fluctuations in hormones during perimenopause and menopause affect gut health due to the relationship between oestrogen and the gut microbiome, until now very little was known about how many women are affected by changing gut health, and the impact on women's daily lives. 

The DR.VEGAN® research highlights 8 common gut health changes during perimenopause and menopause, and how many women experience them:

Common gut health symptoms experienced Proportion affected
1 Bloating 63%
2 Excessive wind and gas 48%
3 Constipation 43%
4 Acid reflux 38%
5 Mild or severe IBS 35%
6 Diarrhoea 26%
7 Stomach cramps 24%
8 Changes in the smell or colour of urine or stools 22%

Among women suffering from bloating and excessive wind and gas, more than 75% experienced these symptoms almost every day, and half of women who suffered from acid reflux and constipation, experienced these symptoms almost every day. You may also enjoy learning about the best foods to eat and avoid if you suffer from acid reflux or GERD.

The research also showed that of the 91% of women who experienced changes in gut health, 58% first noticed their gut health changing during perimenopause, while 35% first noticed changes during menopause, and 7% did so during post-menopause.

How menopause affects gut health

Oestrogen plays a vital role in the health and composition of the gut microbiome, and it is fluctuations in oestrogen can lead to changes in gut health. Because the health of the gut microbiome plays an important role in the regulation of oestrogen levels through enzymes called ‘beta-glucuronidase’, changes in gut health can exaggerate symptoms of menopause, including weight gain, mood swings and anxiety, poor sleep and others. As a result, there can be a circular relationship between hormones and gut health, where changes in either hormones or composition of the gut microbiome can have a knock-on effect on symptoms of the other – learn more about why menopause affects gut health.

The DR.VEGAN® research also highlights the 10 most common symptoms of menopause that affect more than 50% of women, and some less common symptoms which can have the most debilitating impact.

Effects of changes in gut health during menopause

The research highlights the often debilitating impact changes in gut health can have during menopause:

  • More than 40% of women say their changes in gut health contributed to weight gain and worsening sleep.
  • A third of women experienced anxiety, fatigue, lower confidence and a desire to be less active as a result of their changing gut health.
  • 20% of women suffered a fall in libido as a result of their changing gut health.

A change in the health of the gut microbiome can also lead to changes in vaginal health, due to the 'Gut-Vagina Axis'. If the gut microbiome is compromised the ripple effect on the vaginal microbiome can lead to issues including yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV), and urinary tract infections (UTIs)

The best changes in diet during menopause

Nutritionists at DR.VEGAN® have written extensively about how making changes to your diet and lifestyle can have a dramatic effect on relieving symptoms of menopause. We also know that a healthy gut and making changes to your diet can also help relieve symptoms of anxiety and stress. It was therefore not a  surprise that the research revealed a majority of women who made changes to their diet, found these changes effective in relieving menopause symptoms. Of the 1,526 women researched, 82% had made changes to their diet to help relieve symptoms of menopause, and 66% found these changes effective.

The four most effective changes in diet during menopause were:

  1. Increasing plants and vegetables
  2. Reducing or avoiding alcohol
  3. Reducing or avoiding dairy or gluten
  4. Increasing fibre intake

Learn more about which changes in diet are most effective and why in 'Best changes in diet during menopause' and advice from Dr Katie Hodgkinson on the foods and drinks to reach for and avoid during menopause

The best supplements for gut health during menopause


Probiotics and prebiotics are the most effective supplements for addressing gut health issues at any stage of life, for men and women. The research highlights how common probiotics are for women going through menopause, and it highlights significant variances in the effectiveness between different probiotic supplements.

61% of the women in our research had taken probiotics, herbal remedies, digestive enzymes, or medication to improve their gut health during menopause. Of all these remedies, the award-winning Gut Works®, a prebiotic and probiotic with 50bn CFU, was shown to be the most effective, and digestive enzymes, herbal remedies and standard probiotics were shown to be less effective.

Gut Works® for menopause

In the research, 311 women had taken Gut Works® and 509 women had taken standard probiotics. 27% of those who had taken Gut Works® said it was 'very effective’, compared to just 12% who said standard probiotics were 'very effective', 13% for digestive enzymes, and 12% for herbal remedies. Overall, 78% of women taking Gut Works® through menopause found it to be effective

Previous research into Gut Works® among both women and men has shown it to be effective for 80% of people who take it, and 3x more effective than standard probiotics for combating IBS, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and fatigue.

Discover the DR.VEGAN® range of award-winning probiotics and supplements for menopause.

Discover The Menopause Hub.

Download Highlights of the DR.VEGAN® Menopause & Gut Health Research.

Want to hear more from our nutritionists? Sign up to our email newsletter for insights and exclusive offers: