Feeling often like the sensation of having an inflated balloon in your abdomen? Blame it on menopause. Bloating is often caused by a change in oestrogen levels, and can be hugely uncomfortable causing tightness in the abdominal area.
Anywhere from 30 – 60% of menopausal women report an increase in gas during this time of their life. It can last from a few hours to several days, and during this time it’s not uncommon to experience increased levels of wind or flatulence.
What causes bloating during menopause?
There are a few culprits to menopausal bloating, some hormonal, some lifestyle. Both may cause excess air or excess water.
If it’s true that fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone appear to increase visceral sensitivity or the internal pain of our organs which can cause the sensation of bloating, on the other hand, the wrong diet can trigger bloating and gas, too.
According to dietitian and award-winning gastroenterologist Cristian Costas: “fried, high fat and highly processed foods can all contribute to bloating. Some people may also feel bloated after eating chickpeas, onions and garlic, lentils and beans, or some highly fermentable carbohydrates as they can be more gas-producing“.
Menopausal bloating remedies
To help manage the natural digestive changes that occur during perimenopause and menopause, Cristian Costas advises women to take their time with chewing food, as eating quickly can result in swallowing more air.
“I would also encourage people to not overdo it with portions of food, as filling the stomach up too much can contribute to feeling bloated. Increasing foods with higher amounts of fibre gradually can also help to reduce bloating, mainly by improving gut transit“, he explains. “You can try gradually adding more seeds into your diet (like linseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc) as well as nuts, whole grain sources of fibre and more fruits and vegetables with the skin on them. Oats can also be beneficial.”
Staying hydrated is also very important for digestive health, especially if your digestion or metabolism slows down during perimenopause or menopause. If you aren’t a big fan of drinking plain water, try infusions with cucumber, ginger and lemon or peppermint tea and stay away from fizzy and sugary drinks.
“I would say that keeping well hydrated can really help as this can help prevent constipation and help fibre work better within our gut once it is increased in the diet. People can also make some smoothies with some sources of fibre to help gut transit,” says Costas.
Nonetheless, it’s so important to prioritize daily activity as well as relaxing techniques to keep stress at bay. You don’t have to necessarily spend hours at a gym or do high-intensity training, but at least 30 minutes of daily walking, yoga, or stretching is very important.
Stress can no doubt lead to bloating, body tension, headaches, and many other symptoms. It’s more important than ever to try and practice self-care when you’re experiencing health challenges.
What else could cause the gas?
Bloating will not always be caused by food and sometimes even if it’s caused by food, it is worth investigating things further to see if there is a medical condition contributing to the problem.
Some common causes of bloating can be food intolerances and irritable bowel syndrome. However, bloating can also be caused by other medical conditions like coeliac disease, which is an autoimmune condition where gluten can induce digestive symptoms and cause gut damage. To test for it with accuracy, it is important that gluten is not removed from the diet prior to testing.
“If your bloating is regular and persists for more than 3 weeks it is worth getting it checked with a doctor, especially if it’s accompanied by other digestive symptoms“, advises Costas.
This is why it’s always important to seek advice from an expert with regard to your symptoms before making changes to your diet.