“Fluid balance: Dr. Karen Pike’s tips for easing menopausal bloating” is a collaborative post.
Uncomfortable bloating at the menopausal stage is a common condition experienced by so many of my older women patients. However, most of them fail to make sense of it. 9 out of 10 women have no awareness or idea about how to deal with post-menopausal health problems. One of them is bloating!
It may not be a huge issue for some women. However, different women experience menopausal symptoms differently.
Let me tell you that your bodies produce about 0.40 gallons of gas at menopause. This can trigger a great deal of bloating and weight gain visible around your mid-torso region. So, it is just not physical discomfort that you are troubled with when you are plagued by menopausal bloating, it is way beyond that. And I will not deny that it is embarrassing, ladies, isn’t it?
It is pesky and painful, but thankfully, it can be resolved! Do not let your self-esteem take a hit; I am going to help you out with this. Today’s topic is fluid balance, and I will guide you on how to ease abdominal menopausal bloating. But before we get started, here is a little bit about myself.
I am Dr. Karen Pike, and I am a board-certified emergency medicine doctor specialising in advice for menopause care for women. My insights are inspired by my relentless curiosity about menopause since the early 2000s and my own menopause journey later on.
Also, here is a fun fact about me in case you find my regular introduction a bit boring. Have you watched ABC TV’s series Grey’s Anatomy? You would see me there as a doctor and the chief medical consultant of the show right from the first episode. If you have not seen the show yet, go watch it now 🙂
Reasons for bloating at menopause
There could be various reasons for bloating during menopause, let us discuss some of them below:
#1 Fluid and gas retention
Before we get to the solutions on how to address menopausal bloating, you must understand the root causes. Water/fluid retention is one of the major reasons triggering this condition.
For more details, you can refer to my article, in which I have already discussed the various reasons for fluid retention in menopause. Gas retention, as mentioned before, is another key cause of bloating at menopause. In some cases, these triggers can happen a few years before the menopause strikes.
#2 Hormonal changes
The human body is magically complex as it is. What further elevates the complexity is the work of hormones in a woman’s body. It can be unpredictable and, oftentimes, unexplainable, to say the least. My team of doctors can confirm this, given how baffled they are sometimes with how the menopausal body works.
So, constantly fluctuating hormones causing a spike in oestrogen levels is another reason for menopausal bloating. The hormone naturally traps body fluid, and an increase in its levels causes the adrenal glands to synthesise aldosterone.
Spiked aldosterone levels decrease the potassium content in your body and simultaneously trigger an increase in sodium. This process is eventually responsible for excessive water retention and blood pressure, causing bloating.
#3 Stress and other issues
Menopausal stress and gas bloating in the gastrointestinal tract due to appetite changes are some other reasons that can cumulatively trigger menopausal bloating. Gastrointestinal upset at menopause can also be caused by high-sugar and high-gluten foods. It can up your gluten sensitivity despite not having celiac disease and triggering a swollen belly.
Tips for easing menopausal bloating
Most of my patients report unmanageable abdominal pain as a result of menopausal bloating. So, I am now going to share effective tips with you that I recommend to my patients so they can easily manage physical discomfort and pain at home.
You can try these to ease some of that pain and get gradual relief.
#1 Revisit your diet plan
Organising and improving your diet may be the hardest part. However, this one-time evaluation of all the foods to eat and avoid to alleviate menopausal bloating is worth it for a lifetime of healthy, sustainable living.
So, be sure to make your be-all-end-all grocery list, which you can effortlessly follow for the rest of your life. Now, what is an ideal grocery shopping list that prepares you to ease bloating due to various reasons at menopause?
You first want to avoid as many nutritional deficiencies as possible. But most importantly, you need to ensure you are eating enough magnesium, calcium, and iron-rich foods. My team and I found that most younger women and even those approaching menopause were deficient in magnesium. The deficiency gets worse with increasing age.
Magnesium is crucial for your gut muscles to function without spasms to avoid constipation, and for your hormones to work properly. It also plays an important role in efficient brain chemistry. So, the idea is to not mess up your gastrointestinal tract and prevent the trapping of air due to stiff gut muscles by consuming magnesium-rich foods or oral supplements.
I am listing some foods loaded with magnesium, iron, and calcium here. Check them off your grocery list once you buy them.
Also, moderation is key, so I would suggest you get the food portions for consumption verified by a doctor. Just because the food is healthy does not mean you overeat it. Therefore, portion control will promote skilful eating in the right amounts for weight loss.
- Leafy vegetables like spinach
- Dairy products
- Beans and legumes
- Dark chocolate (it is a great stress buster, too)
- Sardines and tuna
- Whey protein
- Sesame, pumpkin, and chia seeds
- Quinoa and brown rice
- Red meat and shellfish
#2 Stay hydrated and improve your lifestyle
Adequate hydration is necessary for optimal gut functioning. You must consume three to five litres of water a day to expel excessive sodium and other toxins from the body, keeping menopausal bloating at bay.
If you forget your water breaks, I would recommend setting timely water intake reminders on your phone, just like your wake-up alarms, so your water consumption is always regulated.
Also, try not to consume carbonated beverages and alcohol. Alcohol and caffeine can be severely dehydrating, which creates the opposite effect. They can cause gas retention and affect your digestive tract, worsening your menopausal bloating.
If you have been smoking for quite a while, it is time to quit the habit as soon as you can. Smoking causes you to swallow a lot of air, trapping wind in your gut and triggering bloating.
Your habit of smoking may not have been that big a deal during your pre-menopause days. However, gastrointestinal tract issues can happen more frequently with the onset of menopause without any warning, as your body works a bit differently. So, quitting smoking will be a great step towards improving your lifestyle and preventing menopausal bloating.
#3 Burn some extra calories
When it comes to easing menopausal bloating, I cannot emphasise the importance of regular exercise enough. Regular physical activity is key to stabilising your hormones, specifically your oestrogen levels.
I urge all my patients to engage in light cardio and resistance training at least four times a week. When oestrogen levels are disturbed, your metabolism is negatively impacted. Regular aerobic exercises can help reduce metabolic risks and create smooth passageways for the food to pass.
According to a 2019 study by Swedish researchers, a dedicated 15-week resistance training program decreased the frequency of hot flashes at menopause by 50 percent.
So, make sure to get moving to shed some calories for better heart health, good sleep quality, and weight loss, reducing instances of constipation and menopausal bloating to a great extent.
#4 Consume probiotics and soothing herbs
A happy gut means a happy you. Probiotics or good/gut-friendly bacteria are great for improving gut health and providing immense relief from menopausal bloating. However, do not just impulse-buy them off the supermarket shelves, as different probiotics are recommended for different patients depending on their symptoms.
So, a thorough health evaluation by your general physician will help you find the right probiotic. Your doctor will also help you eliminate other possibilities of abdominal bloating, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and lactose intolerance.
You can also try some home remedies to alleviate mild to moderate menopausal bloating. Green tea is a natural diuretic that can effectively address fluid retention and reduce bloating. Similarly, consumption of fennel, black cohosh, peppermint, ginger, and Korean ginseng helps fight off menopausal bloating triggered by gas retention.
Final thoughts on easing menopausal bloating
The above tips are non-negotiable when it comes to maintaining your body’s fluid balance and controlling and easing menopausal bloating. Think of these tips as the frontline response, and you must be consistent to see the results you want.
However, severe cases might need prompt medical assistance. To rule out any other medical complications and confirm the diagnosis for holistic treatment, I would always recommend a quick consultation with your general physician.
I hope my insights were helpful. You can read more articles written by me to live a stress-free post-menopausal life. Take care!