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Menopause Bloating - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Menopause is a period of no menstruation in women after 40 years of age when they experience bloating. Read below to learn more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao

Published At July 27, 2023
Reviewed AtJuly 27, 2023

Introduction

Menopause is the period where a female will not go under menstruation for 12 months. It is the permanent end of menstruation. It marks the end of the reproductive cycle and reproductive years. The time before menopause is called perimenopause. Perimenopause begins eight years before menopause. Natural menopause is the ending of menstruation, and the person can no longer have menstrual periods. The ovaries stop releasing eggs and estrogen at this phase. The person goes without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. The average age for menopause is 51 years, but usually begins in the mid-40s. The estrogen levels go so down that there will be digestive issues and bloating during the menopause period in women.

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is when the menstrual period ends, and the woman loses her childbearing capacity. Perimenopause symptoms begin four years before menopause. There are many ways to relieve discomfort and menopause bloating. After menopause, the ovaries no longer secrete estrogen. A decrease in estrogen can cause vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and night sweats. The estrogen changes from estradiol to estrone during menopause. The normal level of estradiol found in premenopausal women is 30-400 picograms per milliliter, and after menopause, the levels go down to 30 picograms per milliliter.

What Is Menopause Bloating?

Bloating is an unpleasant pressure in the abdominal region caused by extra air or fluid in the gastrointestinal tract. It gives a feeling of tightness and fullness.

Bloating can cause swelling of the stomach. The person also gains weight through bloating. Menopausal bloating has two main causes. They are:

  • Gas retention.

  • Water retention.

Water and gas retention causes bloating during menopause. Estrogen levels fluctuate during menopause and perimenopause periods when a woman’s menstruation decreases. Water retention is caused by high estrogen levels, which can lead to bloating. Estrogen is not the only reason for bloating. During and after menopause, bloating is related to changes in the gastrointestinal tract. The other causes of bloating include:

  • Changes in diet or appetite.

  • Slowed digestion.

  • Stress-related to menopause.

  • Swallowing air.

  • Other health conditions.

What Is Perimenopausal Bloating?

During menopause, there is an imbalance in estrogen. During perimenopause, a common hormone imbalance occurs due to estrogen dominance. The body produces more estrogen and less progesterone during the perimenopause stage. Estrogen hormones encourage water retention. Water retention can cause bloating throughout the body. High estrogen levels lead to bloating. This kind of bloating before menopause is called perimenopausal bloating.

How Do Low Estrogen Levels in Menopause Cause Bloating?

  • During menopause and perimenopause periods, the hormones change rapidly. During perimenopause periods, estrogen levels are very high, and they cause the body to retain more water, which leads to bloating.

  • The estrogen levels go very low during menopause. Low estrogens can also cause bloating. During menopause, women usually have low progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone levels.

  • Bile is made up of bilirubin, bile salts, water, and fats. It is made in the liver and stored in the gall bladder. In response to cholecystokinin, bile is released. The bile aids in digestion by breaking down fats. It removes the excess cholesterol from the body.

  • Since estrogen levels are very low during menopause, there is a decrease in bile acid secretion. Estrogen increases the amount of cholesterol relative to bile salts and lecithin in bile. Low estrogen levels lead to less bile secretion and relatively low digestion.

Bloating occurs frequently during menopause and perimenopause periods. The other symptoms along with bloating are:

  • Weight gain.

  • Mood swings.

  • Vaginal dryness.

  • Insomnia.

  • Hot flashes.

What Is the Treatment for Bloating?

The following methods are used to treat bloating:

1. Antibloating Medications

Over-the-counter medications for bloating are very effective. Both generic versions of brand drugs work the same way.

Some medications include:

  • Bismuth subsalicylate (found in Pepto-Bismol).

  • Simethicone (Found in GasX).

  • Over-the-counter food additives like Lactaid can make foods easier to digest, which helps prevent stomach discomfort.

2. Menopause Hormone Therapy

The treatment regulates the estrogen and progesterone levels of the body.

  • Estrogen Therapy - Estrogen is prescribed as a vaginal ring, spray, or gel.

  • Estrogen Progesterone or Progestin Hormone Therapy (EPT) - It is a combination therapy that combines estrogen and progesterone (progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone).

How to Prevent Bloating?

Bloating is also due to the build-up of gas in the gastrointestinal system. With a range of easy lifestyle changes, bloating can be avoided. The changes are as follows:

  • Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated. Staying hydrated can help prevent symptoms of gas build-up.

  • Regular exercising and physical activities help avoid water retention and move food through the digestive system.

  • Foods that cause gas retention should be avoided. These types of foods include beans, broccoli, and fatty, fried foods. Gas retention is the main cause of bloating.

  • Carbonated beverages should be avoided as they can lead to excess gas in the stomach.

  • Chewing gum makes a person swallow more air which eventually leads to bloating.

  • Smoking must be avoided. Smoking can make a person swallow more air, leading to bloating.

  • Salt can cause water retention and swelling. So reducing the amount of salt and processed foods can help avoid bloating. Higher the concentration of salt, the more the amount of water retention.

  • Yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir are some of the probiotics that improve digestive health.

  • Larger meals are hard to digest as the metabolism slows down during menopause.

If a woman feels she suffers from repeated bloating during menopause, there are several medical treatments to alleviate the discomfort. The ways to relieve bloating during menopause are:

  • Using over-the-counter anti-bloating medications.

  • Taking hormone replacement therapy.

  • Taking prescription water pills and diuretics.

Conclusion

Bloating is a common symptom of menopause. During menopause, hormonal fluctuations are the most common cause of bloating. Other factors can play a role as well. Most bouts of bloating resolve quickly with medicinal therapies and lifestyle changes. Small lifestyle changes help a great deal to prevent bloating, eventually increasing the quality of life after menopause. Bloating is not a serious issue, and it will resolve on its own once the estrogen levels come to normal level.

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Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao
Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao

Obstetrics and Gynecology

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