Many women experience belly bloating during menopause. The hormone changes that occur during menopause can contribute to this. Fortunately, there are things you can do to get relief from the belly bloating you are experiencing.
What is belly bloating
Belly bloating is a temporary distention of the abdominal area. It is usually caused by excess gas or water retention in the belly. It can also be caused by constipation. Sometimes more than one of these is present. Bloating is not the same as an increase in belly fat. Check out this article for more information on belly fat. If you are experiencing an increase in belly fat, your belly size won’t change much throughout the day.
Bloating can be accompanied by discomfort or pain in the abdomen. It usually occurs during or after meals and your belly changes size throughout the day. Bloating can cause weight gain, but this should be temporary.
Causes of belly bloating
Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during menopause can directly contribute to belly bloating. Here are a few ways.
- Changes in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause can lead to water retention. This can cause some bloating throughout the body, including the belly area.
- Hormone changes in menopause can also lead to more food intolerances and more stress. These both can contribute to excess gas and belly bloating.
- These hormone changes can also lead to constipation. Constipation is more common for women who are pregnant, during menstrual cycles and during menopause.
- Estrogen also helps to regulate the stress hormone cortisol. When estrogen levels fell, cortisol levels can rise which can slow the digestive process contributing to constipation and other digestive issues.
Changes in eating patterns
Low energy levels, stress and mood swings are all common symptoms of menopause. These symptoms can contribute to changing of your eating patterns. You may start to eat foods which are high in processed carbohydrates and sugar. Sugar, especially fructose can lead to bloating.
Or perhaps a change in your household (adult children moving out, aging parents moving in, etc) could lead you to change how you were eating.
You may have decided to change to healthier eating patterns that include lots of beans, and cruciferous vegetables. While these are healthy foods they should be introduced to your diet slowly.
New food intolerances
Foods that you had no problem digesting when you were younger can suddenly cause food intolerances as you reach menopause. These food intolerances could be leading to gas and bloating. You may want to revisit your consumption of dairy products, fatty foods, and overly processed foods which you may have developed a sensitivity to.
There are several health conditions that can contribute to belly bloating. These all become more common during and after menopause.
- Thyroid imbalances can cause problems with digestion leading to constipation and bloating.
- IBS can lead to bloating and gas.
- Some gynaecological conditions can lead to bloating.
- Some medications can contribute to belly bloat, especially if they cause constipation
- Celiac disease can lead to belly bloating. Symptoms of celiac disease can contribute to belly bloating
How to get relief from belly bloating
Without using hormone replacement therapy, there is little you can do about the hormone changes. But there is still a lot you can do about belly bloat.
- Rule out food sensitivities. Check out this article to get more information on food sensitivities. There are several foods that you could be sensitive to and most can contribute to bloating. Dairy is one of the most common food sensitivities.
- Avoid chewing gum and smoking which can lead to swallowing excess air.
- Avoid carbonated beverages which can lead to excess gas.
- Limit foods which cause gas like beans and broccoli. It doesn’t mean you have to avoid these completely, just have a smaller serving. Your body will likely adjust to these, but it might take some time.
- Limit high fat foods, especially deep fried foods. You should eat some fat, but too much can make you feel bloated.
- Avoid large meals. Eating too much can cause temporary bloating because your stomach is stretched.
- Limit salt in your diet. Salt can lead to water retention which may already be a concern for women going through menopause.
- Practice a stress reduction technique. This can help reduce the symptoms of IBS and constipation.
- Eat slowly. This gives your body more time to digest your food and also helps to keep you from eating too much. You also swallow less air when you eat slowly.
- Use a probiotic. This may help to improve your gut bacteria.
- Drink enough water. This helps you to avoid constipation.
- Get regular exercise. Regular exercise helps to improve gut health and helps to move food through the gut more easily, preventing constipation. But don’t do intense exercise right after eating. This can lead to gastrointestinal distress.
When to see your physician
Belly bloating can be a sign of a serious illness. Check with your physician if you experience any of these:
- Bloating that doesn’t go away, especially if accompanied by any of these listed below.
- Severe pain
Belly bloating is a common symptom of menopause and is directly related to the hormone changes that occur. Fortunately, you can get relief by making changes to your eating, exercise and lifestyle habits. The Healthy Changes Program helps you to fit those habits into your life.