Can Nausea Be a Symptom of Menopause?

The words “female” and "woman" are used throughout this article to refer to people who identify as female and have the typical reproductive organs of a cisgender female. We recognize that some people who identify as female do not have the same anatomy as that depicted in this article.

Nausea is a symptom of menopause. If you are a woman in your 40s or 50s and feeling queasy, menopause or perimenopause (the transitional stage into menopause) is a possible, but uncommon, cause.

Menopause-related nausea occurs because of changing hormone levels. In some women, nausea may accompany hot flashes. It can also be a side effect of medications, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT) used to treat menopausal symptoms.

This article explains how menopause can cause nausea and the treatments to help prevent symptoms. It discusses some factors that can lead to nausea, as well as information about how a healthcare provider can help.

Senior woman having stomachache while running outdoors.

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What Is Nausea?

Nausea is the sense of an uneasy stomach. It may be mild or severe. In many cases, nausea is accompanied by vomiting or the feeling that you need to vomit. You also may not feel like eating.

Nausea occurs as a response to signals sent from the brain and nervous system to the digestive tract.These signals target multiple organs in the body.

Many conditions, some of them serious, can lead to nausea symptoms. They include:

Nausea is not a very common menopause symptom, but some women are affected by it.

Is Nausea a Symptom of Menopause?

Nausea can be a symptom of menopause and may occur along with hot flashes. Up to 75% of women experiencing menopause report a pattern of menopause symptoms that include hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, and insomnia (trouble sleeping).

The causes of nausea during menopause include:

  • A decrease in certain hormone levels
  • Hot flashes in your body
  • Medication side effects

In the United States, the average age at menopause is 51 years but it can occur earlier or later. Some people will experience nausea and other menopause symptoms earlier because of another medical condition, such as chemotherapy treatment for cancer or a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus).

Decreased Hormone Levels

Menopause is marked by a decrease in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Both hormones play a role in reproductive health by regulating the menstrual cycle.

By the time a woman approaches menopausal age, those hormones begin to drop. This signals the beginning of menopause. During that time, the decrease in hormone levels can lead to nausea in some people.

Hot Flashes

One of the most common symptoms of menopause is hot flashes. Hot flashes are caused by decreased estrogen levels sending mixed signals to the hypothalamus, the body's thermostat.

Hot flashes are sensations of excessive warmth that come and go throughout the day. The areas of the body typically affected are the head, neck, and chest. Hot flashes can be accompanied by red and blotchy skin, prickly skin, and sweating.

Not all people will develop hot flash–induced nausea, but research has found that as many as 5% will experience this particular side effect.

Are Hot Flashes Dangerous?

Hot flashes, as a symptom of menopause, are not dangerous. Nor is menopause itself. That being said, some research has found that people who experience more severe hot flashes may be at an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or cardiovascular disease in the future.

Menopause Medications

Medications used to treat the symptoms of menopause can sometimes cause nausea. Examples include hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and some antidepressants.

HRT is a type of therapy used to reintroduce synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone into the body to help combat symptoms of menopause. One of the side effects of HRT is nausea. This is especially true with estrogen therapy.

Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat mood changes that come with menopause. Nausea can be a side effect of antidepressants.

Nausea is among the most common side effects of medications, associated with more than 50% of a wide range of drugs. If you take certain drugs for other health conditions, be sure to tell your healthcare provider about your nausea. It may not be related to your menopause or its treatment.

Treatments and Management of Nausea

There are various treatments available for nausea associated with menopause. Treatment often will depend on the symptoms that you've experienced.

Medications

The most widely used medication to treat menopause is HRT. Hormone replacement is very effective in managing menopause symptoms but it can also cause nausea. It works by restoring hormone levels using synthetic forms. Oral birth control pills may also be given in low doses to alleviate nausea and other menopause symptoms.

Antiemetic medications also are used to treat nausea. Over-the-counter treatments include:

  • Kaopectate and Pepto Bismol (both bismuth subsalicylate)
  • Dramamine (dimenhydrinate)

Prescription medications used to treat severe nausea include:

  • Zofran (ondansetron)
  • Reglan (metoclopramide)
  • Promethegan and Phenergan (both promethazine)

Nausea, Menopause, and Depression

In people experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders associated with menopause, a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed. These include Paxil (paroxetine) and Prozac (fluoxetine). SSRIs also alleviate sleep disturbances as well as symptoms of anxiety.

Dietary Changes

Certain foods and beverages may make nausea worse. Common nausea triggers include:

  • Spicy or hot foods
  • Alcohol
  • Hot and caffeinated drinks such as tea or coffee 

In addition, nausea is sometimes worse on an empty stomach. Eating something bland, like toast or a banana, can sometimes help to relieve nausea caused by hunger.

  • Foods that may help to relieve nausea include:
  • Ginger as tea, ginger ale, or candied ginger
  • Peppermint tea or candies
  • Sour flavors, such as lemon or sour candy
  • Salty foods, like broth

How Can You Increase Your Hormone Levels Naturally?

To increase estrogen naturally, you can introduce certain foods into your diet such as soybeans and soybean-based products, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds. Certain nutrient supplements, including B vitamins, vitamin D, and boron, may also be effective at increasing estrogen.

Manage Hot Flashes

To help alleviate nausea tied to hot flashes, you can manage your hot flashes by:

  • Wearing layers that can be removed when a hot flash starts
  • Carrying a portable fan, ice pack, or other cooling tools with you wherever you go
  • Quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Practicing mind-body techniques, such as meditation, to help manage the hot flashes 

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

While menopause-induced nausea isn’t dangerous, it can significantly affect quality of life.

In some cases, treating nausea at home can work. But if it interferes with your ability to participate in your day-to-day life, you should see your healthcare provider. They will work with you to determine the best course of action to alleviate your nausea and other symptoms of menopause as well.

When Nausea Needs Immediate Medical Care

Nausea can be a symptom of a heart attack or other life-threatening condition, such as a stroke. If you experience nausea accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms, seek emergency medical help or call 911 immediately.

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Recent head injury  
  • Severe headache 
  • Severe abdominal pain  
  • Vomiting blood  
  • Extreme weakness  
  • High fever (over 101 F) 
  • Blurred vision or eye pain  
  • Confusion or stiff neck 

For nausea lasting for more than one week unrelated to the above conditions, you should consult a healthcare provider. They may order blood tests to measure hormone levels, or additional tests to rule out other causes such as a thyroid disorder or, in younger people, a pregnancy.

Summary

Nausea is an uncommon but possible symptom of menopause. It can be caused by hot flashes, hormone replacement therapy, or natural hormone reductions that occur with menopause.

While not everyone will experience nausea because of menopause, some will. Fortunately, it can be managed effectively with either over-the-counter or natural remedies.

Lifestyle changes also can help to reduce nausea symptoms during menopause. Talk to your healthcare provider about steps you can take, and be sure to contact them if your nausea persists or interferes with your daily life.

A Word From Verywell

Menopause can be an uncomfortable and difficult process, especially if you have nausea as a symptom. But keep in mind that your nausea may be due to another condition, some of them potentially life-threatening. It's important to make sure you have an accurate diagnosis for your nausea symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

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By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.