Everything You Need To Know About Bloating and How To Beat It

Do you suffer with bloating? It’s a common but frustrating symptom that many women experience, especially around ovulation and menstruation. Bloating can be super uncomfortable, make you feel irritable and low and stop you doing your favorite activities, too. Understanding what bloating is, why it happens – especially in relation to hormonal imbalances, and how you can manage it is important in order to ease those uncomfortable episodes or know when to see a doctor.

What exactly IS Bloating?

Bloating is the feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen. Typically, it can be caused by a build of wind in the belly, or by sluggish movement in your gut – or a combination of various factors. For a lot of women, it’s part and parcel of their menstrual cycle and they can predict that at ‘that’ time of the month, stretchy pants are a must! The sensation of bloating can range from being mildly uncomfortable to very painful, with a swollen, distended belly, belching and excess gas (that can be hard to pass, too.)

What is the cause of hormonal bloating?

No doubt, there will have been many times when your belly feels super bloated and you wonder what on earth is going on inside to cause it. Firstly, we need to understand how our hormones contribute to bloating.

Hormonal bloating is primarily driven by fluctuations in key hormones that regulate various bodily functions, including digestion and water retention. The primary hormones involved in bloating are estrogen and progesterone, both of which play significant roles in the menstrual cycle.

Estrogen

Estrogen levels rise during the first half of the menstrual cycle, peaking just before ovulation. High levels of estrogen can cause water retention and increase the sensation of bloating. Estrogen also affects the production of bile, which is essential for digestion. An imbalance in bile production can lead to digestive issues and bloating.

Progesterone

Progesterone levels increase after ovulation and are highest during the second half of the cycle. High progesterone levels can slow down the digestive process, leading to constipation and bloating. This hormone relaxes the smooth muscle in the gastrointestinal tract, which can decrease bowel motility and contribute to a build-up of gas and waste.

Other hormones that can cause bloating are:

  • Aldosterone: Aldosterone regulates sodium and water balance in the body. Elevated levels of this hormone during the luteal phase can cause the body to retain water, leading to bloating.
  • Cortisol: Known as the stress hormone, cortisol can affect digestion and water retention. High cortisol levels, often triggered by stress, can exacerbate bloating and digestive discomfort and contribute to inflammation in the body.

MENOPAUSE AND PERIOD SOS

Why do women suffer with bloating more than men?

The primary reason women experience more hormonal bloating than men is due to their menstrual cycles and hormone balance. The cyclical nature of female hormones means that women experience regular fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, which we know to directly affect the digestive system and cause fluid retention.

Additionally, hormonal contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies can also influence hormone levels, potentially leading to bloating. Women may also experience bloating due to pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause, all of which can be periods of hormone imbalance or changes, and this causes bloating to be more common.

Is bloating common for women?

Bloating is extremely common among women, with studies indicating that around 70% of women experience bloating as a premenstrual symptom. It can occur at various stages of life, from adolescence through menopause. While occasional bloating is normal, persistent or severe bloating should be discussed with a healthcare provider, as it can sometimes indicate underlying health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, or other gastrointestinal disorders.

When does bloating occur more in our cycle?

Women are most likely to experience bloating during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle, which occurs after ovulation and before menstruation. This phase typically spans from day 14 to day 28 of a 28-day cycle and will differ for us all if your cycle is shorter, or longer. During this phase, progesterone levels are at their peak, and many women report increased bloating, along with other premenstrual symptoms (PMS) such as mood swings, breast tenderness, and fatigue.

Some women also experience bloating during ovulation due to the spike in estrogen levels. This mid-cycle bloating is usually less severe than the bloating experienced during the luteal phase.

Tips to Ease Hormonal Bloating

Managing hormonal bloating involves a combination of lifestyle changes, dietary adjustments, and sometimes, supplements. Here are three effective tips to help ease bloating:

Consider Topical Supplementation: Supplements that are applied topically can help to balance hormones and can be particularly effective in reducing hormonal bloating. Absorbed via the skin, they are fast acting and much gentler on the gut than their oral equivalent.

Quick tips to try today:

        • Menopause SOS: This supplement is formulated to support women through the hormonal fluctuations of menopause. It contains ingredients that help balance estrogen and progesterone levels, reducing bloating and other menopausal symptoms.
        • Period SOS: Specifically designed for menstrual cycle support, Period SOS helps regulate hormones and alleviate PMS symptoms, including bloating. It contains a blend of natural ingredients known to support hormonal balance and digestive health.

Maintain a Balanced Diet: Eating a diet rich in whole foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, can help reduce bloating. Avoid processed foods, excessive salt, and sugar, which can contribute to water retention and digestive issues.

Quick tips to try today:

    • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps flush out excess sodium from your body, reducing water retention and bloating.
    • Increase Fiber Intake: Fiber helps regulate digestion and prevent constipation. Incorporate high-fiber foods such as beans, lentils, berries, and leafy greens into your diet.
    • Avoid Bloating Triggers: Common food triggers include dairy, carbonated beverages, and high-fat or fried foods. Keep track of your diet and identify any foods that may cause bloating.

Regular Physical Activity: Exercise can help stimulate digestion and reduce bloating. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, most days of the week.

Quick tips to try today:

      • Core Exercises: Strengthening your core muscles can help improve digestion and reduce bloating. Incorporate exercises like planks, bicycle crunches, and leg raises into your routine.
      • Yoga and Stretching: Certain yoga poses, such as the child’s pose, downward dog, and cat-cow stretch, can help relieve bloating by promoting gas release and stimulating digestion.

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