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Menopause bloating: the real reason you get bloated

Uncover the causes, symptoms, and solutions for this common issue. Learn about hormonal changes, water retention, and body composition shifts. Discover practical tips like hydration, exercise, and probiotics. Distinguish between bloating and weight gain, empowering you to navigate menopause with confidence.

Beth Tripp
Beth Tripp
Menopause bloating: the real reason you get bloated

Menopause can be a complex and emotional journey for many women. Along with a mix of physical and emotional shifts, there's also a lot of misleading information out there.

Bloating is a common issue, especially during menopause, and it's often tied to the drop in estrogen levels. The hormonal shifts that come with menopause bring several changes that can trigger bloating, including water retention, changes in body composition, and disturbances in digestion.

In this article, we'll explore the root causes of bloating during menopause, explain why it's a common issue for women, and point out the key factors that contribute to bloating during this time

What are the causes of bloating during menopause?

Symptoms of menopause can begin during the pre-menopause phase, with bloating being a prevalent symptom throughout the menopausal transition. There are numerous factors that contribute to bloating during menopause. Let's delve into three of the most common causes.

1. Hormonal changes and weight gain

Menopause brings major hormonal shifts for women, and this can often lead to bloating.

One of the major changes is in estrogen levels. Since estrogen helps control the body's water balance, a drop in estrogen during menopause can lead to holding onto more water, making you feel bloated. Also, it's common to gain weight during menopause, particularly around the stomach, which can add to the bloated feeling.

2. Water retention and gas retention

Holding onto extra water, especially around the stomach, can make you feel bloated. Menopause often brings more water retention, and this is usually linked to lower estrogen levels. But, it can also happen because of higher progesterone levels during menopause.

Menopause can also lead to more gas being trapped in your digestive system. This is because hormone changes can slow down how fast your food is digested, causing gas to build up. If you're feeling too tired to cook, you might end up eating more quick and easy processed foods. This kind of diet, along with other things like smoking or stress, can make gas and bloating worse.

3. Shift in body mass

During menopause, it's common for women to see changes in their body shape, especially with more stomach fat. This happens due to shifts in hormones, like when estrogen goes down. These hormone changes can lead to more fat being stored around the stomach. At the same time, you might lose some muscle and your metabolism could slow down. These changes together can make you feel bloated during menopause.

What does menopause bloat feel like?

Bloating can come in many forms, but the main overarching theme is uncomfortableness. Typically someone who is feeling bloated may experience feelings of extreme fullness, stomach tightness/ feeling like their stomach has been stretched, and pain or just some mild discomfort.

Extreme fullness:

It's common for individuals to feel extremely full after eating even small amounts, leading to a sense of discomfort and bloating. This sensation of being overfull differs significantly from the satisfaction of a well-sized meal.

Stomach tightness

Bloating often brings a feeling of tightness or swelling in the stomach, making it seem larger than usual. This uncomfortable sensation is frequently linked to water retention during menopause, as previously discussed.

Pain and discomfort

If you are feeling bloated you are likely either experiencing some pain or in great discomfort, and this can lead to stomach aches or cramps. This is not only likely to cause further pain but also can get in the way of you carrying out your day-to-day activities and reduce your quality of life, especially when coupled with the increased likelihood of poor mental health during menopause.

6 ways to get rid of a bloated stomach during menopause

Dealing with a bloated stomach during menopause can be uncomfortable, but there are lifestyle changes and habits that we can introduce to help beat the bloating.

1. Drink lots of water

We all need to make sure we drink plenty of water throughout the day for our overall functioning, but it can also help to reduce bloating. Drinking plenty of water not only flushes out excess fluids from the body but also can reduce water retention, which as we know now can cause bloating. To maintain good hydration and support your body's needs, it's recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, whether you're experiencing bloating or not

2. Regular exercise

The advantages of regular physical activity extend far beyond general health; they also include reducing symptoms of bloating. Regular exercise can activate your digestive system, helping to reduce gas buildup that leads to bloating and promoting consistent bowel movements vital for digestive health. We recommend regularly taking part in activities like walking, jogging, or yoga into your daily routine to help reduce your bloating.

3. Probiotics

Probiotics are everywhere these days and there is lots of emerging evidence to show how they can be beneficial to promote a healthy gut microbiome, improve digestion, and reduce bloating. That’s why we recommend having lots of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, or taking a probiotic supplement. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains are beneficial for maintaining a balanced gut environment.

4. Eat slowly

In a fast-paced world, it can be hard to remember to take time to eat slowly. But eating slowly really does help you to digest your food properly and reduce the chances of you swallowing air while eating. Both of these factors can contribute to bloating, so by simply taking that little bit longer to chew your food can help you achieve healthy digestion and minimise bloating.

5. Limit salt intake

Salt, which is made up of sodium and chloride, can contribute to water retention when consumed in high amounts. As we've discussed, water retention is a significant factor in menopausal bloating. By reducing salt intake, we can also lessen bloating.

The NHS recommends having no more than 6g of salt a day, which can be harder to achieve than you might first think. Salt is in many foods on the shop floors, so it's not just a case of what you are adding to the plate. Opt for lower salt products by reading labels and cooking from scratch with herbs and spices,  rather than salt, to enhance flavour.

6. Keep a food diary

It might seem tiresome, but keeping a record of the foods you eat and your bloating symptoms may indicate foods that trigger your bloating. 

This is great when speaking to a healthcare professional as you already have evidence of what foods might cause the bloating. 

Remember to always seek medical guidance before cutting out any food groups. Sometimes, you might think a food is causing bloating, but it's not good to guess you're intolerant to it. We all need a mix of foods to stay healthy, and cutting out a whole group could mean you miss out on important nutrients. Be cautious about food intolerance tests too. They can be expensive and might not give you the answers you need. If bloating is a problem for you, it's best to get advice from a healthcare professional.

Is it Bloating or Weight Gain?

Figuring out if you've gained weight can be challenging, especially during menopause when the body tends to store more fat around the stomach.

This can be confusing because bloating also causes the stomach to swell, and you might mistake this for weight gain. However, bloating usually comes and goes, often after meals, and can cause discomfort or pain. Weight gain, on the other hand, doesn't change as quickly throughout the day and doesn't usually cause the same type of pain as bloating. Weight gain is typically due to an increase in body fat..

Menopause brings many changes, making it hard to tell if you're gaining weight or just experiencing bloating. But leading a healthy lifestyle can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce bloating.

If you're worried about managing your weight during menopause, consider reaching out to Embla. Our team of doctors, nurses, and nutritionists can provide personalised support and advice, whether you're navigating menopause, aiming for a healthier weight, or looking for sustainable weight loss solutions.


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Beth Tripp
Beth Tripp

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