Does menopause cause bloating?

menopause bloating
Whisper it, but menopause can make you feel a little bit farty. And bloated. Yes, it’s a joy. We asked Dr Stephanie Goodwin, a London-based GP and menopause specialist, what can be done.

With all the talk of generative AI in the news, we thought we’d see how Chat GPT answered the question: does menopause cause bloating? Here’s what it had to say:

“Yes, menopause can cause bloating in some women. Bloating is a common symptom during menopause due to hormonal changes and shifts in the body’s metabolism. Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels can affect fluid balance and lead to water retention, resulting in bloating. Additionally, hormonal changes can slow down digestion, leading to constipation and further bloating. It’s important to note that not all women experience bloating during menopause, and the severity and frequency of symptoms can vary from person to person. If you’re experiencing bothersome bloating or other menopausal symptoms, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management.”

It’s not a bad answer, and it tallies with what our medical advisor, menopause expert Dr Stephanie Goodwin, has to say.

“Oestrogen has an effect on water retention, indeed this is the reason many women experience a higher level of water retention coming up to their period,” explains Dr Steph. “Unfortunately when oestrogen levels become erratic during perimenopause and menopause water retention is often a consequence.”

Like so many menopausal symptoms, bloating isn’t something women feel comfortable talking about, but the reality is bloating does increase at midlife.

Why is my menopause belly so big?

What is the connection between menopause and bloating? “Oestrogen also influences the production of bile and this acts as a lubricant in the intestines,” says Dr Steph. “When this process becomes less efficient, fats are less thoroughly digested and bloating can occur.

“Increased oestrogen levels lead to the adrenal glands producing aldosterone. This affects the kidney function so that there is a water/salt imbalance leading to feelings of bloating and retention of water.

Progesterone usually acts as a natural diuretic which helps to relieve excess fluids from the body. If oestrogen levels become much higher than progesterone this will again lead to bloating and retention of water. However if progesterone is high, food will move more slowly through your intestine which again leads to bloating.”

READ MORE What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause?

What does menopause bloating feel like?

Bloating symptoms vary from woman to woman but typically include a feeling of fullness/tightness in the stomach and abdominal area, a swollen stomach and increased burping or flatulence. You may also experience constipation.

How do I get rid of menopause bloating?

Some women will experience this for a few days and then not again for some months. Others will experience this for much more prolonged periods.

READ MORE What are the 34 menopause symptoms?

So the key is hormone stability?

“Fluctuation is the problem,” says Dr Steph. “Your hormones function in an interdependent and interconnected system so a changed level in one hormone will trigger a change in another. Generally speaking oestrogen levels go up and down and progesterone falls consistently and continually so sometimes oestrogen will dominate.

Can changes in diet help menopause bloating?

“Yes, it’s a good idea to cut out well known trigger foods such as onions, beans and sugary snacks to reduce bloating and help your digestive system. There are food swaps you can make too: Bananas, grapes and eggs are known to minimise gas. You should also opt for low salt foods and cut down on processed foods which are often high in salt. Increased exercise can also help.

READ MORE 11 ways to lose menopause belly fat.

Does HRT help menopause bloating?

“When preventing bloating, I usually put my patients on probiotics for three months as this also seems to assist. However, you may also want to consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat the root cause of the problem which are those delightfully fluctuating hormone levels.”

READ MORE Dr Stephanie Goodwin is a London-based GP and menopause expert.

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