Why You're Experiencing Menopause Belly Bloat & What To Do About It, According To Experts
Bloating is a tricky (and frustrating) issue that many people struggle with, and although it can stem from a number of dietary causes, hormones may also play a role, specifically for women in the midst of menopause. It's no secret that your body shifts and changes with time, but why exactly does menopause have any impact on bloating?
At mbg, we believe uncovering the root cause is paramount, so we got to the bottom of what exactly menopause bloat is all about, and what you can do to find ease and renew comfort in your body.
What causes menopause belly bloating?
Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary female sex hormones, and these levels fluctuate as you enter into menopause, which may cause some adverse reactions within your body. "Too little, or too much progesterone can definitely cause a woman to feel bloated," explains functional medicine doctor Wendie Trubow, M.D. "Typically, as a woman is transitioning into menopause, it's from too little progesterone, so we recommend checking the levels."
These shifts in hormones can directly affect your well-being. "Initially, the reduction and cessation of ovulation leads to a reduction of progesterone, accompanied by fluctuations in estrogen levels and eventually a reduction of estrogen below the threshold necessary for menstruation," notes holistic OBGYN Eden Fromberg, DO. "Menopause is, by definition, the cessation of menstruation for a full year accompanied by these hormonal shifts."
During this time, the body may retain more fluid than usual, resulting in what is known as menopause bloating. Therefore, in order to ease these changes within your body, it can be useful to target fluid retention, in particular.
Ways to ease menopause belly bloat.
Targeting fluid retention is one of the best ways to cut down on belly bloat during menopause, and there are several methods you can employ that may ease it in a holistic way. If you've been struggling with menopause belly bloat, consider:
Drinking plenty of water.
If your body is holding on to water, this may actually be a sign that you need to drink more, not less. "Drinking adequate fluids is important, and restricting consumption of fluids does not resolve fluid retention," notes Fromberg. "In fact, restricting fluids [affects regularity], which is another contributor to bloating."
Integrating a mindful approach to eating.
As previously mentioned, your diet has a major impact on bloating, even outside of menopause, so keeping an eye on trigger foods can be useful. "Processed foods, cold foods, gas-producing foods, greasy foods, gluten, and foods containing sugar, sweets, and refined carbohydrates can all contribute to bloating," explains Fromberg. "The gut microbiome comprises the immune-sensitive organisms that line our small and large intestines, and these essential microbes are especially sensitive to sugar, sweets, and refined carbohydrates."
That might look like cutting down on sweets and processed snack foods while replacing them with probiotic-rich ingredients such as live culture yogurt, fermented foods like kimchi, and even sauerkraut.
Taking a probiotic.
Managing your stress.
Of course stress can play a role in bloating as well, and managing feelings of overwhelm in the day-to-day will reflect in your overall health. "The ovaries receive their blood and nerve supply from the adrenal glands, and these endocrine structures are sensitive to each other's actions both hormonally and structurally," says Fromberg, explaining how stress and menopause tie together. "With the onset of menopause, the adrenals may become more stress sensitive from the withdrawal of support from the ovaries."
However, regular exercise, good sleep, breathwork, and allowing yourself to rest and recover are all excellent methods for relieving stress and supporting your overall well-being.
When to see a doctor.
While occasional bloating here and there is completely normal, if it's not responding to healthy changes to your lifestyle, then it may be worth checking with a health care professional to see if there's a better route of care, suggests Fromberg.
Menopause is already a major change within your body, so it's understandable to be frustrated about newly occurring bloat as well. However, staying aware of your gut health can support comfort within the body and promote overall well-being. It's important to remember that approaching your health in a holistic way is the best strategy for feeling great.
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career, and formerly worked at SheFinds. Her byline has also appeared in Women’s Health. In her current role, she writes and edits for the health, movement, and food sections of mindbodygreen. Readman currently lives in New York City.