Bloating

Bloating

What is bloating?

One of the most unpopular yet nevertheless frequently experienced symptoms of menopause is bloating. This is closely related to an increase in intestinal gas and fluid retention caused by fluctuating hormones, and may also be associated with weight gain. A symptom commonly associated with the menstrual cycle, women who have dealt with bloating in the past as it occurs with PMS will most likely recognize the symptom as a part of menopause.

Information on bloating

Bloating is defined as a feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdominal area that can lead to a certain degree of discomfort or even pain. It is mainly experienced during the menopausal transition as a result of either water retention, increased intestinal gas, or a combination of both.

The duration and intensity will vary from woman to woman, with some women experiencing bloating for a few days and then not again for a year, or possibly for several months at a time. A woman can wake up with a flat stomach and then have her stomach distend progressively throughout the day, or the bloating may appear within a matter of minutes and be aggravated by eating.​

What are the symptoms of bloating?

As bloating can vary in duration and intensity, so too can the symptoms vary in between menopausal women. It is important to understand why bloating happens so frequently among women of menopausal age in order to gain a handle of this uncomfortably familiar symptom. Keep reading to learn more about the causes of bloating.

What are the causes of bloating?

Hormonal causes

While bloating can occur as a result of such factors as diet or stress, the most likely cause for menopausal women is a fluctuation in hormones, particularly oestrogen. Oestrogen is important for a couple of reasons. First of all, it has an effect on the retention of water that occurs naturally as part of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Women tend to retain more in the days leading up to menstruation as a result of the rising Oestrogen levels. When oestrogen levels become erratic during perimenopause, so does the incidence of water retention, leading to bloating.

In addition, oestrogen influences the production of bile, a substance produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder that aids in digestion. Bile acts as a lubricant in the intestines. When oestrogen levels decrease as a result of menopause, this in turn leads to a decrease in bile production. Stools in the small intestine can become dry, hard, and accumulate due to the lack of lubrication, leading to the sensation of constipation and bloating. Not including the important role of oestrogen in the phenomenon of bloating, there are other causes that will often have a hand in this.

Other causes

Aside from water retention and decreased bile production, the other most common cause of bloating is the prominence of intestinal gas. Anywhere from 30-60% of menopausal women report an increase in gas during this time period, leading researchers to believe that hormonal fluctuations also play a role in the production of gas.
Intestinal gas can also be caused by changes in diet, irritable bowel syndrome, swallowing air, carbonated beverages, or lactose intolerance.
Other factors that less commonly induce bloating in women include: abdominal surgery, obesity, weakened abdominal muscles due to pregnancy, or other, more rare, medical conditions including gallstones, diabetes, or kidney disease.

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