Does your stomach feel like a puffer fish or get tight like a bowling ball? Hormone fluctuations during perimenopause and menopause can make you feel discomfort in many places including the digestive system. Women in perimenopause and menopause frequently suffer from stomach bloating. If menopause belly bloat is getting in your way of enjoying or even functioning in your life, there are ways to get rid of perimenopause cramps and bloating. Read on to learn how to get rid of menopause belly bloat.
What is perimenopause bloating and where does it come from?
Women with perimenopause bloating experience intense tightness, fullness, cramping, and even pain in their abdomen. Sometimes, you can even feel bloating elsewhere like in your chest and back.
It is more common for women to suffer from abdominal bloating in perimenopause compared to menopause and postmenopause. This is because estrogen levels behave erratically during perimenopause. Estrogen does many things in your body and one of its roles is to retain water. Thus, when estrogen levels randomly spike in perimenopause, it can cause your digestive system to hold on to water. Consequently, you can feel bloated.
There are other times in a woman’s cycle when she can feel bloated as well. Oftentimes, women report bloating during ovulation. Estrogen levels are high right before ovulation. This is because high levels of estrogen are needed to signal the release of luteinizing hormone which causes the ovary to ovulate. Once a woman ovulates, estrogen levels fall and progesterone increases until you start your period.
Perimenopause bloating can be caused by a number of other factors too. Bloating, in general, is caused by a build-up of air in the digestive tract. The following examples can impact air distribution in your abdomen:
Other health conditions such as airway dysfunctions like sleep apnea
For women who are in menopause bloated and uncomfortable, your bloating is likely caused by factors unrelated to fluctuating hormones. This is because your hormones settle down once you reach menopause.
Perimenopause bloating and remedies
Oftentimes, bloating is caused by a combination of factors. Between work and life stressors, poor diets, rushed meals, being sedentary, and little exercise, our digestive tracts can get sluggish. Combine those factors with hormone fluctuations in perimenopause and it can lead to quite a bit of discomfort.
There are a number of strategies you can try to reduce perimenopause bloating. Most strategies involve making lifestyle changes.
Follow a perimenopause diet - One of the best ways you can reduce bloating is to get rid of foods that create more gas and slow your digestive tract down. Fatty, fried, and sugary foods are major culprits when it comes to creating excess gas in your system. Dairy products and certain vegetables (such as broccoli and legumes) can also cause gas.
Get moving! - You’ve probably been pummeled with the health benefits of exercise but it does wonders for your whole body, including your digestive system. Establish a regular exercise regime so that your body gets used to moving at certain times of the day. Furthermore, try to move after meals. Rather than settling on the couch after dinner, walk around the block or do some light yard/housework to move air.
Hydrate - Water helps facilitate digestion by warding off symptoms such as constipation. Avoid drinking carbonated drinks and alcohol as they can increase the air in your abdomen.
Skip chewing gum - It actually makes you swallow air!
If lifestyle changes do not relieve perimenopause bloating, there are medication options to help you find comfort.
Try anti-bloating over-the-counter medication such as anti-gas medications and antacids.
Hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills may help balance out your hormone levels. Remember, perimenopause bloating is commonly the result of erratic estrogen levels causing your digestive system to retain water.
Diuretics - A doctor may provide medication that helps prevent water retention called a diuretic. These medications are commonly prescribed for people with other health conditions that lead to water retention such as those with kidney or heart disease. Some people try natural diuretic supplements. However, there is little scientific evidence that supports using natural diuretics to help relieve water retention.
Perimenopause is a time of transition that can be met with challenging physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. If you are in perimenopause and are suffering from bloating, among other perimenopause symptoms, this is a great time to connect with your doctor and learn about the best ways to manage your perimenopause season.
If you enjoy learning about perimenopause and connecting with other women going through similar experiences, join us in the Perry community!
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.
Meet The Author
Perry Babe Julia ( RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations.
Much of her education and clinical experience are related to educating women on women’s health topics ranging from lifestyle improvements, disease management, and general health education.
Find Julia's Perry community profile right here.