In the last 6 months I developed gallbladder disease. In the last 6 months I also started going through menopause. Symptoms of both issues came at me in quite an abrupt almost violent way, just out of the blue. Perhaps there were prior warning signs but I just didn’t notice them? My doctor was very vague about the causes of the gallbladder thing, but did say that most gallbladder disease occurs in middle aged females. I truly believe that me entering into peri-menopause triggered these issues and as my hormones continue to shift, the gallbladder issues are also becoming more problematic.
By definition the gallbladder is a small pouch that sits under the liver. Its function is to store and secret bile, which is a digestive fluid that breaks down fats. Research shows that women are twice as likely than men to develop gallbladder problems. Estrogen dominance in women seems to play a key role. Statistically it is more often middle aged women that have the most problems with gall bladder issues. This clearly points to the possibility that the shifting hormone levels during pre menopause / menopause could be causing or at least aggravating the gallbladder into preforming deficiently.
As women enter pre menopause (peri-menopause) it is during this time that general digestive issues pop up. Increased bloating, food sensitivities, lactose intolerance, etc. can just show up one day even when there was no prior history. Hormones of course regulate the digestive functions. With the gallbladder the hormone cholecystokinin regulates some function as it is expelled by the pancreas and signals the gallbladder to squeeze. When this synchronicity is upset, there is a delay in gallbladder emptying leading to a still empty feeling, which can result in overeating. Therefore, the gallbladder works less efficiently, has more to process and does not discharge completely. The excess residue can form cholesterol crystals, which can then in turn form gallstones. Gallstones will over time cause blockage resulting in painful cramping and spasm. Once this occurs, in most cases the gallbladder will need to be surgically removed.
Women that do not yet have active gallstones, there is a possibility to improve gallbladder function or at least maintain gallbladder status so that no further problems develop. Diet and lifestyle changes are the main option. A low fat, high fiber diet is key with an emphasis on avoiding trigger foods. Foods most likely to cause gallbladder symptoms or aggravate gallbladder problems are eggs, pork, onions, poultry, milk, coffee, oranges, corn, beans and nuts. Following an elimination diet of these foods and then slowly adding them back into the diet can identify specific triggers for each individual person. Also, avoiding large fatty meals is a huge help. Ideally, eating 5 to 6 small meals a day works best. Those meals should all be balanced with a good mix of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates and drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. Physical activity of course is great for many reasons but in this case it will help the digestion system. These proper steps can really help a lot of women avoid any future problems.