Before and during your period, you may have noticed that you feel bloated and fuller especially in the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, face and breasts. This is referred to as period bloating and quite a common occurrence.
What is bloating?
Bloating in its strictest meaning simply refers to having an accumulation of gas in the abdominal cavity.
- However, during some stages of the menstrual cycle, bloating can be generalized to mean an increase in the amount of gas and fluid not only in the abdominal cavity but the body as a whole.
- In this regard, therefore, bloating shall be taken to mean the general increase in the gas or fluid in various parts of the body.
Even with this, bloating is felt more around the abdomen.
What causes stomach gas during menstruation?
Is it normal to have stomach gas during menstruation? Why do I get bloated on my period?
Bloating during period is normal and shouldn’t worry you unless it becomes intense and causes a lot of discomfort. Otherwise, most cases of stomach gas during period can be done away with using home remedies.
Depending on the cause of the gas and its level of discomfort, the most common causes of period bloating include;
1. Intake of alcohol and caffeine
When you are used to taking alcohol, you will realize that it increases or makes worse the level of bloating as you tend towards your period.
- Alcohol will make most premenstrual symptoms such as breast swelling, bloating and mood swings worse.
- It can also inflame the bowels leading to the overproduction of gas hence bloating.
- Dehydration from alcohol intake is also common and it leads to the retention of water on the body.
On the other hand, caffeinated drinks such as coffee will also dehydrate your body with the result of retaining water and bloating.
Caffeine is also known to overstimulate the bowels and cause irritation leading to production of gas and eventual bloating.
2. Uterine swelling
Uterine swelling is the case whereby your uterus grows larger in size due to the increase in the amount of blood that flows to it before and during a period.
As the body gears itself up to provide the needed conditions for a baby, one of the things done is thickening of the uterine wall. The thickened wall provides the perfect conditions for the attachment of a fertilized egg.
As the wall of the uterus builds up in thickness, you will feel fuller and somewhat bloated compared to normal times.
3. Hormonal changes
The increase in the progesterone hormone during this time will lead to a slower bowel movement. This allows the body to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from the food eaten in preparation for a pregnancy if it occurs.
The slower bowel movement will not only make you feel fuller but also lead to the production of more gas than normal. The gas is the reason for the bloating during period.
4. Water retention
Due to the hormonal changes that take place towards and during your period, your body will retain more water than usual. The increase in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones is the main cause of water retention.
The body retains water as a way of preparing itself for a pregnancy in the case that you conceive during this period. You will this notice some swelling in the legs, face, breasts and abdomen at this time.
During this period, you are likely to have a craving for salty and fatty foods. The sodium contained in the salt will further contribute to the retention of water by the body.
Extreme bloating during menstruation
Having bloating during your period is a normal phenomenon. However, at times, you may have intense bloating which causes a lot of pain and discomfort.
What you need to know is that such cases are a result of external factors that increase the level of bloating.
The factors include:
- Eating salty and fatty foods increases the level water retained in the body.
- Taking alcohol and caffeine.
- The intake of sugary and carbonated drinks.
- Eating some foods such as Brussels sprouts, beans, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli have the enzyme raffinose that breaks them down with a considerable amount of gas being released.
You may also be having a disease or other condition which increases the amount of acid and gas in the stomach such as stomach ulcers. You should thus focus on eating foods and drinks that do not irritate the body in any way.
Bloating during period and weight gain
Gaining weight and bloating before and during your period is mostly contributed by the retention of water and overproduction of gas.
As the body experiences an increase in the levels of progesterone and estrogen hormones, a lot of changes will occur which contribute to gaining weight in preparation for a pregnancy. These changes include;
- Thickening of the endometrium.
- Slowing down the digestive system.
- Retaining water in the body and many other processes.
Most of these processes cause abdominal bloating and bloating in its general meaning.
Cramps and bloating but no period
There are cases when you observe cramps and bloating but without a period. In such a case, the most probable underlying issues include:
If you are under medication such as antidepressants, chemotherapy treatment and birth control pills, you may experience occasional cramps and bloating in the abdomen.
- Ovarian cancer
Cancer of the ovaries will also lead to symptoms such as bloating and cramps in the abdomen even when there is no period to be observed. While ovarian cancer can lead to bleeding, it would not be a period and it would be lighter and more random compared to a period.
- Fallopian tube blockage
Having a blockage in your fallopian tubes can lead to bloating and abdominal cramps. This can be caused by a tumor or ectopic pregnancy. It is a dangerous situation which requires urgent medical attention.
- Ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts are sacs filled with fluid that may develop on the ovaries. These sacs have many symptoms including pain during sex, bloating, nausea and vomiting. At times, you may experience painful bowel movements when you have ovarian cysts.
- Pituitary gland and thyroid problems
When either the pituitary gland or the thyroid glands or both have problems, you may experience some symptoms since they are responsible for a lot of hormones in the body.
When they produce too much or too little of specific hormones, you may experience side effects such as bloating and abdominal cramps.
- Ectopic pregnancy
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg, rather than attaching itself to the walls of the uterus, attaches on other parts of the female reproductive system such as the fallopian tubes, the cervix or the abdominal cavity.
Due to the relatively smaller organs compared to the uterus, you will feel bloated and fuller when having an ectopic pregnancy.
Stress can cause a lot of undesirable effects on the body. For one, stress can cause ulcers which are a source of bloating and gas in the stomach. Stress can also disrupt the normal functioning of the body leading to overproduction of some hormones hence indigestion and bloating.
Menopause is another situation where you will experience cramps and bloating but have no period. If you are above 40 and you have missed your period for the length of a year, then you are in menopause.
In this stage, your body will no longer be having periods although the common symptoms of a period may be felt once in a while.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
The Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a condition in which a person is almost always worried even when they know there is nothing to worry about.
Due to this condition, you may lose sleep, appetite, calmness, alertness and general control over your life. This disorder will also cause indigestion leading to bloating and abdominal cramps.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
The polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal imbalance affecting the main female hormones progesterone and estrogen.
When it occurs, PCOS can cause far-reaching effects including your appearance, fertility, menstrual cycle and even cardiac function.
- Anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which you spend most of your time worrying about gaining too much weight.
This will make you eat so little food and calories that you literally starve. The effects include bloating and malnutrition.
When you are pregnant, you will first of all miss your period then have some bloating in the abdomen with cramps. Other signs that you are pregnant include morning sickness, food cravings and aversions, and constipation.
How to get rid of bloating during period
Whether you are already having a bloated abdomen or are yet to have but expect your period soon, you can take some precautions to get rid of or prevent it. Among the most potent solutions to bloating during period include;
Some anti-inflammatory medicine bought over the counter can really help in getting rid of bloating and cramps during period. Naprosyn and Ibuprofen are some of the most used when it comes to this issue. You can easily find them in shops and other places.
Use oral contraceptives
Oral contraceptives are not only meant to control birth but also play an important role in stabilizing the hormones and reducing the intensity of premenstrual symptoms.
With these contraceptives reducing PMS by more than half, you can be sure that bloating will be effectively dealt with.
Home remedies to stop and reduce bloating during period
Home remedies for bloating during period include the following routines and substances:
Reduce carbonated and sugary drinks
Rather than imbibing liters of Coke, go for lots of water as sugary drinks and carbonated ones only serve to make your bloating and other symptoms of a period worse.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided as much as possible if you want to stay free from bloating during your period.
Alcohol makes worse most types of premenstrual symptoms such as bloating, mood swings and breast tenderness.
Besides that, alcohol will dehydrate you leading to the retention of water by the body with the result that you will be bloated.
On its part, coffee will irritate the bowels and like alcohol, dehydrate you. Keep off from both during this delicate period.
Foods rich in potassium and proteins
When you focus on foods rich in potassium and proteins, you will have less of prostaglandins and more of natural diuretics in the body. This balance is the best when it comes to doing away with bloating in your period.
The foods that you should focus on in this period include the following:
- Lemon juice
Keep off foods on the following list as they cause bloating;:
- Brussels sprouts
While exercising during this period is quite hard, you will need to keep it up as it has great benefits in reducing the effects of some premenstrual symptoms and the period itself.
Be careful, however, that you don’t overwork yourself during this period since intense exercises will only serve to inflame and bloat you further. Rather, go for light exercises such as yoga and aerobics for the best results.
- 8 Ways to De-Bloat When You Have Your Period – Women’s Health
- 5 Tips for Managing Period Bloating – HealthLine
- Uterine Cancer – MedlinePlus