Bloating is another one of the common side effects of hormonal change, with lots of women reporting feeling full or tight around the stomach, increased gas levels and changes to bowel habits.
While it’s always good to check with a doctor if bloating persists, just to rule out any other causes, as your body changes there are things you can do to help it adjust and relieve or avoid symptoms. It all starts with understanding what’s happening and why.
What causes bloating in menopause?
Changing hormone levels affect how your gut works, its general health and water retention, while fluctuations in other hormones, like cortisol, due to anxiety or stress have an impact on digestion as well. The net result is more bloating. Women also often find that their shape changes a bit as they get older - body fat tends to shift to the abdomen and metabolism typically slows down.
How does bloating manifest?
Some women experience persistent bloating through menopause, while for others it comes and goes at different times of the day, if they eat too quickly or if they eat certain foods. As with so many things, it’s different for different people.
What can you do to help?
There are a number of ways you can help limit bloating during menopause by adjusting diet and lifestyle factors to support your body.
Adapt your diet
Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for helping to handle bloating and supporting gut health. For gut health fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are excellent, as is a probiotic. Foods that can help prevent bloating including those that are high in water, like cucumber, nutritious avocados, and ginger. Peppermint is also good for soothing the stomach.
Regular exercise is good for everything, including bloating. It’s important to be consistent, and use a combination of cardio and strength-building exercises. Whether you go for a long walk or do a yoga session, it helps to expel gas and move the digestion along - aim for at least 30 minutes each time.
Dehydration can also contribute to bloating, and if you’re experiencing hot flashes you’re more likely to dehydrate. Drink plenty of water (still, not carbonated), as well as foods containing high levels of water, like watermelon.
Things to avoid
Chewing gum and carbonated drinks can make bloating worse, while alcohol and smoking can lead to irritation of your gastrointestinal tract which can cause bloating. Meanwhile, sugar can draw water into the large intestine or at least prevent it from being absorbed properly.
Speak to your doctor
There are also medications that you can take to help ease painful bloating or prevent it. You can speak to your doctor about support through things like diuretics, anti-bloating medication and HRT, as well as making sure it’s not being caused by anything other than hormonal change.