The Menopause And Bloating
Menopause is when you stop having periods. Its a normal part of ageing, but the hormonal changes in your body can cause various symptoms, including bloating.
Its common to get bloating both during the menopause and the time leading up to it . You may notice a feeling of fullness or tightness in your stomach, a swollen stomach, an increase in burping or gas, or trouble pooing . You can get a bloated stomach every day, or only occasionally.
Read on to learn what causes menopause belly bloat and how you can treat it, as well as when to see a doctor.
Reduce Salt In Your Diet
Salt is a known retainer of water, and eating too much salt will cause your body to hold onto extra water. Most excess salt in the diet comes from packaged or restaurant foods.
So, while you do need some salt in your diet, you may try cutting back on packaged foods or restaurant meals to help your body get rid of any excess water retention.
How To Stop Menopause Bloating
Written by Liz Brown
Menopause bloating can be painful and uncomfortable. Learn how to stop menopause bloating and find quick relief!
Every woman will go through menopause at some point in her life. For some, entering menopause can feel like a sigh of reliefno more PMS, no more menstrual cycle, and no more birth control! Freedom! For others, entering menopause is no cause for celebration because they know what awaitshot flashes , mood swings , night sweats , and even a decreased libido!
The symptoms of menopause can be a huge pain in the ovaries and can be really uncomfortable for a lot of women. If youre currently going through menopause and are experiencing some not-so-thrilling symptoms, like menopause bloating, there are some natural menopause bloating remedies to help you find quick relief. But first, lets take a look at the connection between menopause and bloating so we can fully understand what causes it in the first place.
Heres what well cover about menopause bloating:
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Secondary Causes Of Menopause Bloating
While estrogen may be the chief cause of a bloated stomach during menopause, characteristics stemming from overall aging can play a role as well.
The balance of good and bad bacteria in our digestive tract can impact the presence and severity of bloating as we age.
Estrogen is primarily broken down by a group of balanced bacteria found in the digestive tract.5 If you have an imbalance of stable gut bacteria , your estrogen metabolism may become incomplete or impaired, and excess estrogen is not eliminated efficiently.6 Again, this excess of estrogen in our bodies can create a higher incidence of bloat.
Another factor that can affect the severity of bloating experienced during menopause is the lack of sufficient enzymes in our digestive tracts. Aging naturally causes the production of our digestive enzymes to decline.7 Increased levels of stress can also negatively impact digestion, affecting what nutrients our intestines process and absorb.8 Depending on the nutrients our bodies digests, our digestive system can increase the production of gas, and we may start to feel the effects in the form of bloating.
As mentioned, increased stress levels can cause more stressed digestion. A full schedule of responsibilities, appointments, and a frenetic pace of work and family obligations often means that we eat very quickly. Eating too fast, (combined with reduced activity of the bodys digestive enzymes, means that the feeling of bloat may be on its way.
How Does Menopause Affect Constipation
There is a direct link between hormonal changes and bowel activity. Declining levels of estrogen and progesterone associated with menopause slow GI motility, meaning it takes longer for food to get through your GI tract. The longer food remains in your colon, the more water is reabsorbed back into your bloodstream, and the harder your stools get.
Additionally, during peri-menopause and menopause, lower estrogen levels decrease bile levels. Bile is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It mixes with fats and helps to dissolve and absorb them. Bile salts help to promote bowel movements by softening stool, lubricating your intestines, and speeding up how fast stool moves through your colon. Decreased bile levels associated with menopause can make stools harder and more difficult to pass resulting in constipation, gas and bloating.
Constipation related to menopause may also be exacerbated due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. Your risk for pelvic floor weakness and pelvic floor dysfunction increases with age.
Finally, hypothyroidism and diabetes are more common as we age and with menopause. These conditions can contribute to and exacerbate constipation.
Often post-menopausal women will have multiple risk factors for constipation. Addressing all of these issues thoroughly and comprehensively will help you to experience the best quality of life and alleviate your symptoms to the fullest extent possible.
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Why Am I Bloating During Menopause
Bloating is different from weight gain, though many people mistake the two. The way to tell the difference is bloating often causes sudden changes or fluctuations. For example, you may notice differences throughout the day or after meals. Weight gain generally doesnt cause such quick changes and usually requires diet and exercise to change. There are many things that can cause bloating. For instance, many people bloat from eating or drinking too quickly, chewing gum, or taking certain medications. Additionally, bloating is common for those with gastrointestinal disorders and food intolerances.
However, hormone changes can also cause bloating. This is especially true during perimenopause when your hormone levels begin to fluctuate and often become imbalanced. However, even after menopause, low hormone levels can lead to bloating. Fortunately, hormone imbalance treatment can help keep your hormone levels in healthy ranges and may assist with symptoms like bloating and hot flashes.
For Stress And Anxiety
Managing stress on a daily basis through activities like yoga, meditation, therapy, and whatever else brings you peace can help with bloating.
Reducing anxiety right before mealtime can help, also. Taking deep breaths and sitting down to mindfully eat helps reduce bloating in some people.
The low FODMAP diet may appear quite restrictive, but actually there are many delicious foods that you can enjoy, including fish, berries, several leafy greens, quinoa, and more.
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Fiber For Women During Menopause
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So yes, menopause. Sure there are pluses like no more periods but then there are the minuses like bloating, hot flashes, and weight gain. While there is no secret sauce to magically make all these things disappear, there are ways to manage these minuses. And it all starts with our favorite f-word: fiber.
Fiber is important for any woman of all ages. Fiber is found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and legumes. Think of fiber like a Dyson vacuum that runs through your system. Since it cant be digested by your stomach, it passes through your body and keeps your digestive system in tip-top shape by flushing out all the harmful things in your body, like cholesterol and toxins.
As if fiber isnt fabulous enough, it also helps lower the risk of diseases and helps you feel full, which can help reach your weight management goals. However, fiber is even more vital for women who are going through menopause by aiding with bloating, constipation, and a slowing metabolism.
Speak To Your Gp About Hrt
If bloating is really getting you down, you might want to speak to your doctor about Hormone Replacement Therapy
HRT essentially does what it says on the tin. It replaces the hormones that your body is naturally losing due to the menopause, helping to reduce symptoms.
There are a number of ways you can take HRT medications, including tablets, patches and creams. Most women can take HRT but there are some risks, which your doctor should discuss with you.
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Cut Down On Processed Carbohydrates
Sometimes bloating in this stage of life could be a result of poor carbohydrate metabolism. Your body may lose its ability to process glucose, and that could lead to diabetes.
If you consume too many processed carbohydrates, your body will struggle to keep up since its metabolism is already compromised. One of the side effects may be flatulence.
Consider not taking any carbohydrates for about 3 days and see if the menopause bloating reduces. If it does, then carbs may be the culprit.
Afterward, cut down on pizza, white bread, bagels, and other similar food items.
The Treatments For Bloating Associated With Menopause
The most effective treatments for bloating try to tackle the root cause of hormonal imbalance Below are some simple lifestyle changes to help you ease bloating.
Exercise. Regular exercise can help your body maintain overall health and regulate hormone levels.
- Eat the right food. There are two aspects to this
Eat healthy. Try and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and other healthy foods to make sure you get all the necessary vitamins your body needs to balance its hormones.
Avoid foods that cause gas and bloating. There are a number of foods that can worsen bloating, such as beans, artificial sweeteners, and dairy products. While these may be healthy, they should be eaten in moderation.
Sometimes, something more than simple lifestyle changes is needed. Alternative medicines like estrogenic and non-estrogenic herbs may help you find relief. These herbs may be able to correct hormonal imbalance at the source, either by introducing compounds that mimic estrogen, or by stimulating your body’s natural hormone production.
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Exercise To Get Rid Of Bloating
Moving more instead of lying down after eating may also help limit bloating. A review article published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2014 noted that exercise and staying in an upright position may help limit bloating and help reduce gas. Exercise can also sometimes help with other symptoms of menopause, including mood swings and hot flashes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. A review article published in the Journal of Mid-Life Health in 2010 noted that yoga may help to improve the symptoms of menopause, making this a potentially good form of exercise for women suffering from bloating because of menopause, as it may help with other symptoms as well as the bloating. Exercise also helps with weight loss and can help limit weight gain, which can sometimes occur during menopause.
Can Hrt Help Menopause Bloating
When preventing bloating, I usually put my patients on probiotics for three months as this also seems to assist. However, you may also want to consider hormone replacement therapy to treat the root cause of the problem which are those delightfully fluctuating hormone levels.
Read more from Dr Stephanie Goodwin and find out about her clinic, at www.drstephaniegoodwin.co.uk
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Essentials For Older Women
In older women, common causes of pelvic pain may be different because some disorders that cause pelvic pain become more common as women age, particularly after menopause. Obviously, disorders related to menstrual periods are no longer possible causes.
Common disorders in older women include
Bladder problems, including infections
Many cancers of the reproductive tract, including cancers of the lining of the uterus , fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vagina
After menopause, estrogen levels decrease, weakening many tissues, including bone, muscles , and tissues around the vagina and urethra. As a result, fractures and bladder infections become more common.
Also, this weakening may contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, which may cause symptoms as women become older. In these disorders, weakened or damaged tissues in the pelvis can no longer hold the uterus, vagina, or other organs in the pelvis in place. As a result, one or more of these organs may drop down .
Older women are more likely to take drugs that can cause painful constipation.
In older women, the lining of the vagina thins and dries after menopause. This condition may make sexual intercourse painful, and women may describe or experience this pain as pelvic pain.
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Lowers Risk Of Diseases
There are several diseases like heart disease and diabetes that can all develop in women as a result of menopause. However, fiber can help lower your risk of developing these conditions. Fiber helps reduce the blood glucose levels in your body and slows down the absorption of sugars during digestion. This reduces the amount of sugar absorbed into your bloodstream, which can aid your overall heart health, and help you avoid heart disease, diabetes, and other dangerous conditions.
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Changing Your Eating Habits
Your body can bloat more easily depending on your diet and your food intake. Eating large meals for example can overload the digestive system, as can eating quickly. Try reducing your portion size and eating slower. By breaking your food into more manageable chunks, your stomach has less work to do and will produce less gas as a result.
Move More Once You Hit Midlife Say Experts
Weight gain may feel like its inevitable once youve entered your fourth decade, but the truth is, it doesnt have to be. Natural hormonal changes mean you may start to notice symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, but you dont need to idly accept that the number on the bathroom scale will steadily creep up, too.
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Heres whats going on with your body if elastic-waist pants are now your go-to fashion staple: Weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, with the added pounds accumulating right around your belly. I named the extra fat that collects around your middle the menopot, says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, author of Body for Life for Women.
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What we did when we were 30 and what we do when were 60 is very different, says Kathryn A. Boling, MD, a family medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. We have to adjust our exercise some as we get older. If youve lost some gusto, create incentives for yourself to stay moving. I have an Apple Watch, and I like to see that circle closed, she says. Peeke says you dont have to go to a gym, but you do need to do enough strength training to keep your muscles strong and your metabolism revved. Try activities that have you lifting, pushing, and pulling, she says.
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Reduce Refined Sugar And Processed Foods
A diet high in refined carbs and sugar can cause sharp rises and dips in blood sugar, making you feel tired and irritable.
In fact, one study found that diets high in refined carbs may increase the risk of depression in postmenopausal women .
Diets high in processed foods may also affect bone health.
A large observational study found that among women aged 5059 years, diets high in processed and snack foods were associated with poor bone quality .
Diets high in processed foods and refined carbs are associated with a higher risk of depression and worse bone health in postmenopausal women.
Red Flags For Swollen Stomach And Back Pain
Bloating causes a distended stomach when the abdomen fills up with gas or air. This discomforting sensation can also cause pain that may be felt in the back. Together, a swollen stomach and back pain can make you feel not only distressed but perhaps a bit self-conscious as well.
The two symptoms are tied together because the back provides support and stabilizes the body. However, abdominal bloating causes pressure and pain in the area which can spread to the back. The pain may vary in severity and type from sensations of dull throbbing to sharp and pinching pain.
When the two symptoms are experienced separately they are fairly common and not usually a cause for concern. But in instances where a bloating stomach pain is also accompanied by back pain, they could be indicative of a more serious condition. These should not be taken lightly as they can include the following:
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Prevent Bloating By Avoiding These Foods
About 75 percent of the world’s population have instances when they’re not able to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk. These people are diagnosed to be lactose intolerant. As such, drinking milk can cause major digestive problems such as wind, diarrhea, and bloating.
Menopausal women are also known to have more sensitive digestive tracts than usual, so it’s better not to risk it especially if you know that you are lactose intolerant.
Natural Remedies To Ease Menopause Bloating
Dont consume excessive amounts of vitamin C since its known to increase water output from the kidneys.
The great news is that you dont have to suffer in silence, nor do you have to just wait until the ride is over. There are numerous natural remedies that can provide you the relief you seek and deserve.
If youve determined your bloating is caused by water retention, just a few ways you can remedy the situation include:
- Keep salt intake minimal. This can be done by reading labels and reducing junk foods.
- Dont consume excessive amounts of vitamin C since its known to increase water output from the kidneys.
- Use around 15 drops of tincture of dandelion to decrease water levels.
- Eat plenty of foods like corn, asparagus, watermelon, and grapes.
- Reduce consumption of parsley, black tea, and coffee.
- Use essential oils like lavender and rosemary. You can use in the form of mouthwash, inhalants, or vaporizers.
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What Causes Bloating During Menopause
During early menopause, you will see a significant fluctuation in hormone levels, which can result in a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, weight gain, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. One of the primary shifts that you will experience is a drastic change in your levels of estrogen. Estrogen is the hormone that is responsible for keeping the right levels of bile and water in the body. When these levels begin to fluctuate, your body will respond by storing more water, leading to bloat. When estrogen affects bile production, your body will digest fats differently, which can result in higher levels of flatulence in the digestive tract.
There are other issues that can lead to gas and bloating in your 50s that are not directly related to the level of hormones in your body.