Why Does Menopause Cause Nausea?

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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) could be to blame.

Similar to morning sickness during pregnancy, 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 hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is sometimes used to treat menopausal symptoms, or other medications you are taking.

This article discusses how menopause can cause nausea. It also explores nausea treatments and other things that could be making you feel nauseous.

Senior woman having stomachache while running outdoors.

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What Causes Nausea During Menopause?

Nausea is not a very common menopause symptom, but some women are affected by it. The primary cause of nausea in menopause is shifting hormone levels. In some women, nausea accompanies hot flashes (which are also caused by shifting hormone levels).

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 reaches menopausal age, generally between ages 40 and 58, levels of 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.

What Menopause Medications Cause Nausea?

Medications used to treat the symptoms of menopause can sometimes cause nausea. In particular, 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.

How to Treat Menopausal Nausea

There are various treatments available for nausea associated with menopause. Treatment often depends on the symptoms being experienced.

Medications

The most widely used medication to treat menopause is HRT. HRT is very effective in managing menopause symptoms. It works by restoring hormone levels using synthetic forms. Oral birth control pills may also be given in low doses to alleviate menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, and nausea. However, HRT can also cause nausea.

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

Antiemetic medications are also used to treat nausea. Over-the-counter treatments include Kaopectate, Pepto Bismol (both bismuth subsalicylate), and Dramamine (dimenhydrinate).

Prescription medications used to treat severe nausea include Zofran (ondansetron), Reglan (metoclopramide), and Promethegan and Phenergan (both promethazine).

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. Supplementing with certain nutrients may also be effective at increasing estrogen. Some supplements that could help include B vitamins, vitamin D, and boron. 

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 

What Tests Are Used To Diagnose Menopausal Nausea?

Blood tests that measure hormone levels are sometimes used to diagnose menopause and related symptoms. These include:

However, healthcare providers often forgo bloodwork and diagnose menopause based on a woman's age and the presence of other menopause symptoms. The age when menopause begins can vary from woman to woman, but it typically starts in the 40s or 50s.

Doctors may be more likely to test hormone levels in women in their 30s who are experiencing changes in their menstrual cycle and other symptoms, like mood changes, hot flashes, and insomnia.

Your healthcare provider may run additional tests to rule out other potential causes for nausea, Common causes for nausea in women include:

  • Thyroid problems
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Migraines
  • Medication side effects

During perimenopause, pregnancy is also a possible cause of nausea that is easy to rule out.

When to See a Provider

While menopause-induced nausea isn’t dangerous, it can significantly affect certain people.

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.

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. It can be treated with medications or lifestyle changes. See your healthcare provider 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. 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. Contact your healthcare provider to find relief for your nausea and related menopausal symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How early does menopause start?

    Menopause can start at varied ages. This is because each person will experience it differently. People may be more likely to begin menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. However, it can start as early as age 40.

  • What are other symptoms of menopause?

    In addition to nausea, other symptoms of menopause include:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Vaginal dryness and sexual dysfunction
    • Painful intercourse
    • Thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls
    • Weakened pelvic muscles
    • Lower sex drive
    • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
    • Fatigue
    • Joint pain
    • Depression and other mood changes
    • Anxiety
    • Changes in memory retention
    • Poor concentration


  • Can menopause cause dizziness?

    Dizziness is quite common in people experiencing menopause. Researchers have found that it could be linked to feelings of anxiety during menopause.

  • What is perimenopause?

    Perimenopause is the transitional period prior to the onset of menopause. During perimenopause, your menstrual cycle begins changing, and physical and emotional symptoms arise. Perimenopause can last anywhere from two to 10 years.

  • How long does menopause last?

    The menopause timeline will vary depending on the person and other lifestyle factors. Roughly speaking, the transitional period typically lasts seven years. In some cases, it can go on for as long as 14 years.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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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.