An introduction to bloating and menopause
Bloating is one of the most frequently experienced menopause symptoms. Although it can affect any menopausal woman, it is most common among those who have experienced the symptom when suffering from PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome).
Bloating is characterised by a feeling of tightness in the abdominal area. It can last from a couple of hours to several days. You may also experience increased levels of wind or flatulence.
Bloating can also be a side effect of HRT. If this side-effect is severe enough you may want to consider alternatives to HRT.
Why does menopause cause bloating?
Bloating is most commonly experienced during the peri-menopause. During this stage, fluctuation of hormones causes all sorts of symptoms.
The hormone oestrogen is important for maintaining the correct amount of water and bile in the body. As levels begin to change, the body tends to store more water, making you feel bloated. In addition, the amount of bile produced alters – this affects the way you digest fats, leading to more wind or flatulence being produced in the digestive system.
However, there are other causes of bloating ranging from poor dietary habits to serious health problems such as Crohn’s disease. If bloating persists for more than two weeks you should visit the doctor to eliminate any underlying health issues.
What home remedies are there for bloating?
Looking after your digestive system correctly will help reduce bloating. Certain foods can cause flatulence. Beans and soft cheese are notorious for producing gas. Many menopausal women try to lose weight and eat more healthily. While this isn’t a bad thing, sudden changes in diet or crash diets can also lead to bloating.
You may find that eating small meals regularly will prevent your metabolism from slowing down. This means that you will be able to digest food more efficiently, preventing bloating and weight gain.
Be careful what you drink. Alcohol and caffeine can have an adverse affect on your digestive system, particularly if taken in quantity or regularly. Water, while this can seem boring, can do wonders for your digestive system by flushing out any toxins. A glass of water can be a temporary quick fix for bloating.
It is important to keep exercising. A daily walk or holding some yoga poses can move the gas around the digestive system and prevent it building up and causing bloating. Exercise can also help reduce stress. This is worthwhile as stress can have a negative impact on your digestive system.
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Are there herbal remedies to help me?
If your periods are still more or less regular, and you experience other symptoms such as period pains, try Agnus castus first. This herb is normally used for PMS in younger women, but is also beneficial for women at the early stages of menopause (known as the peri-menopause) when the hormones start to become imbalanced.
TIP: If you are on hormonal contraceptives, Agnus castus may not be suitable for you.
If your periods have more or less stopped, use a supplement containing soy isoflavones, such as A.Vogel Menopause Support. This will also help with other menopausal symptoms which you may experience.
Of course, bloating can come about with other conditions such as digestive problems and unrelated to the menopause. If your symptoms are unexplained, or do not resolve despite your attempts at treating them, seek advice from your doctor.
What about conventional medicine?
If you do not find that home remedies or herbal remedies help with your symptom then it may be worth looking into conventional remedies. There are some over-the-counter treatments for bloating available. It is advised to speak to a pharmacist to establish which of these would be most suitable.
Occasionally bloating can have an underlying health condition. It is advised that if you have continued bloating for more than two weeks you should go to a doctor. This is especially so if your bloating is accompanied by abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting or blood in the stools.