Bloating during menopause is a common symptom. Here are some of the comments made by women about it
I’ve never been fat except when I was pregnant. Now I feel like a blimp.
I cannot believe how disgusting I look. The basketball belly, the bloat, my arm flaps and blimp look.
I have a basketball belly and I hate it. I hate getting dressed now. All of my clothes are so uncomfortable!
I feel like the Good Year Blimp every single day.
I feel like a stuffed pig all the time. I look like I’m pregnant, but I know I’m not.
Bloating is a feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdominal area that is experienced as a result of
- water retention
- increased intestinal gas
Bloating during menopause is caused by any one of the three, or a combination of them.
Bloating actually occurs during perimenopause. It is rarely experienced after menopause. It is caused by changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone from their levels prior to perimenopause.
A recent survey found that over two-thirds of women experience problems with stomach gas during menopause. When asked which menopause symptoms they experienced the most, the survey found the following results:
- gas was 69%
- hot flashes was 66%
- disturbed sleep was 65%
- mood swings was 64%
In this post I will focus on water retention during menopause.
Causes of water retention and bloating during menopause
Like all the other symptoms you are experiencing, bloating during menopause is caused by changes in the levels of the hormones in your body from their levels prior to perimenopause.
The trigger that causes water retention and bloating during menopause is the changing levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body during menopause. Generally speaking, estrogen levels fall during perimenopause. But the levels fluctuate. That means that it goes up and down. Progesterone levels fall consistently and continuously during perimenopause.
During the early phases of perimenopause, estrogen levels, though fluctuating, are generally higher than are prior to perimenopause. In the later phases of perimenopause estrogen levels are fall toward their permanently low levels in postmenopause.
So in the early phases of perimenopause, the fluctuations in the levels of estrogen occur within a range that is higher than the levels of estrogen prior to menopause, alongside falling progesterone levels. This creates the condition of estrogen dominance wherein there is greater percentage of estrogen in your body, relative to progesterone.
The hormones in your body function in an interdependent and interconnected system. Changes in the level of one hormone affects the levels of the other hormones. Estrogen dominance triggers changes in the ratios and levels of all the other hormones in your body, including the hormones insulin and cortisol. Insulin and cortisol play a role in water retention during menopause.
How changing hormone levels cause bloating during menopause
Estrogen regulates water retention in the body. Progesterone has a diuretic effect on the body. Rising estrogen levels cause your body to retain water while falling progesterone levels mean less water is excreted through urination.
The changing levels of estrogen and progesterone trigger all of the symptoms of menopause. The symptoms of menopause increase the levels of stress that you experience. When you feel stress, the level of cortisol in your body rises. High levels of cortisol causes water retention.
The changing levels of estrogen and progesterone also cause insulin levels to rise in almost all women during menopause. Insulin is a hormone produced and released by your body when you eat. It breaks down the food you eat into glucose, which is commonly called blood sugar. Insulin also directs the cells of your body to remove glucose from your blood and store it.
Glucose provides your body with energy, without which it could not function. Think of the relationship between glucose and your body, as being similar to gasoline and your car. With more insulin in your body, your body tries harder to get glucose from your blood into the cells of your body; however, once your cells have received enough glucose, they ignore the call from insulin to receive more glucose. At this point, your body becomes insulin resistant. Insulin resistance causes water retention and bloating during menopause.
How to relieve bloating during menopause
Here are some things you can do to relieve bloating during menopause that is caused by water retention
- Re-balance your hormones
- Eliminate processed food from your diet. Processed food increases the level of insulin in your body. Base your diet on eating real food. Real food does not need labels: ie. unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetable
- Reduce stress by doing one or more stress reduction techniques regularly. This will keep the cortisol level in your body at a lower level
This post is reproduced with the permission of Menopause Matters.
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