Bloating is a very common symptom experienced by people going through menopause and perimenopause and it can often be mistaken for weight gain. If you're experiencing menopausal bloating, try not worry too much about it! We know you might be asking what you can do about it, so here's our team's best advice on why it happens and how to manage it.
Why does menopausal bloating happen?
- Fluctuation of hormone levels: When your body has higher oestrogen levels than progesterone levels, your body will hold on excess water and this will cause bloating.
- Water retention: Water retention is one of the main causes of bloating and can be caused by a number of different things - hormonal changes, dehydration, too much salt, or lack of exercise.
- Gas retention: Gas retention is another very common cause for menopause bloating. It can be caused by things like gas producing foods (fizzy drinks, swallowing air - for example, when drinking through a straw or chewing gum -, health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and imbalances of friendly bacteria in the gut.
While it may not be possible to completely eliminate this bloated feeling, there are lots of things you can try to help reduce and manage it.
Here are our tips on how to reduce menopausal bloating
1. Eat a balanced diet: Opt for a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit your intake of processed foods, fatty foods, and foods that tend to cause gas, such as beans, cabbage, onions, and carbonated drinks. Eating healthy foods (most of the time!) can also improve some of the other menopause symptoms too, including weight gain and hot flushes (sometimes written hot flashes).
2. Watch your salt intake: Excessive sodium consumption can lead to water retention and bloating. Pay attention to your salt intake and avoid highly processed and packaged foods that are often high in sodium. Opt for fresh, whole foods and try to flavour your meals with herbs and spices instead.
3. Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water in a day helps maintain proper hydration and can prevent water retention. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit your intake of sugary drinks and caffeine (sorry!), as they can contribute to bloating and water or fluid retention for some people.
4. Eat smaller meals and eat slowly: Consuming large meals can cause bloating and discomfort. Instead, try eating smaller, more frequent meals and take your time to chew your food thoroughly. We know it sounds very basic, but eating slowly and mindfully can aid in your digestion and reduce the likelihood of swallowing air, which can contribute to bloating.
5. Identify trigger foods: Keep a food diary to identify any specific foods that seem to exacerbate bloating for you and increase your gas retention. Common culprits of increased production of gas are foods like beans, lentils, broccoli, dairy, refined sugars, and fizzy or carbonated drinks. If you notice a pattern, think about reducing or avoiding these foods to see if it helps with your bloating.
6. Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can support your digestive health. Consuming foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, or taking probiotic supplements, may help promote a healthy gut and reduce menopause bloating for some individuals.
7. Regular physical activity: Regular exercise can help in digestion and reduce bloating too. Choose exercise that you enjoy, and get a friend along too if that helps. Walking, swimming, or yoga are great ways to get moving. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, most days of the week and you'll be on a great track to reduce bloating.
8. Manage stress: Higher stress levels can contribute to digestive issues and bloating. We would recommend trying out stress-management techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. Yoga, pilates, swimming or anything else that helps you relax and unwind (even if it's watching TV on the sofa!)
9. Consult a healthcare professional or a doctor: If bloating persists or it becomes severe, it's definitely a good idea to speak with a doctor. They can evaluate your symptoms and rule out underlying medical conditions or health issues. They can also give you appropriate guidance or treatment options tailored to your specific needs. Some doctors may prescribe you over the counter medications or birth control pills to help regulate hormone levels.
Remember, every individual is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the strategies that work best for you in managing bloating during menopause. Please don't hesitate to reach out to your Fertifa Patient Advisor if you're a Fertifa patient, we are always here to help you with any questions or concerns 💜