For many women, one of the least-talked about but most persistent symptoms of hormonal imbalance is abdominal bloating. This is a common complaint for both men and women, since it can be caused by a variety of reasons; however, for women of reproductive age it is mostly related to hormonal imbalance.
Bloating can vary in its severity, ranging from a mild discomfort and feeling of “fullness” to a strong swelling accompanied by growling and passing wind. Continue reading to learn more about bloating, its causes, how it is connected to times of hormonal transitions, and the treatment options available.
Bloating is the buildup of gas in the stomach, which causes its swelling or enlargement. It provokes an uncomfortable feeling of fullness and may be accompanied by abdominal pain and the urge to expel some gas.
For some people, abdominal bloating is merely an occasional nuisance than can easily be avoided or that doesn't cause much discomfort. Other people experience it regularly and must always look for a way to avoid the pain and the social embarrassment.
It is difficult to accurately establish the different types of abdominal bloating. However, there are three criteria that can help identify ways in which this symptom may vary: frequency, durations and intensity.
In order to understand the processes behind abdominal bloating, continue on to the next section to read about their hormonal and non-hormonal causes.
Learning about the causes of bloating provides the key to understanding how to prevent and treat these troublesome attacks. While the exact causes of abdominal bloating are complex and diverse, most doctors and researchers believe hormonal changes are the primary cause in women of reproductive age. In addition to these completely normal hormonal causes, other factors and medical conditions can, in more rare instances, cause abdominal bloating.
Continue reading to learn more about both hormonal and other causes of bloating.
Hormones are chemical messengers that control every organ in the body. Therefore, when changes in these hormone levels occur, certain health disorders can arise. Medical researchers have found that fluctuating levels of hormones, especially estrogen, make women more susceptible to symptoms of abdominal bloating and digestive problems. This is because estrogen and progesterone influence the body's level of sodium retention as well as the function of peristalsis, or intestinal movements, designed to make food pass smoothly through the digestive tract.
This is the reason why more women experience bloating and digestive distress during times of significant hormonal imbalance - puberty, PMS, menstruation, pregnancy, post-partum, and menopause. The fluctuation in progesterone levels during these stages causes abdominal bloating to increase.
Furthermore, there are also specific hormonal causes and typical environmental factors which can explain the occurrence of abdominal bloating according to the stage of a woman's reproductive life in which this disorder appears, such as around PMS and during puberty, pregnancy, post-partum, and menopause.
Puberty is the stage in which a girl's body begins to produce reproductive hormones; these and other factors, such as drastic body changes, contribute to abdominal bloating during puberty.
Pregnancy leads to extreme changes in the production of reproductive hormones, which along with other factors, like fatigue or food cravings, can lead to abdominal bloating.
Post-partum and breastfeeding is another stage where reproductive hormones are imbalanced, leading to symptoms like abdominal bloating- Also, other factors contribute to abdominal bloating in postpartum, like diastesis recti.
Menopause is the stage in a woman's life when production of reproductive hormones naturally declines, signaling the end of a woman's fertility. As well as hormonal imbalance, other factors that can affect abdominal bloating are menopausal weight fluctuations and the problems with assimilation that are a natural part of aging.
While hormonal imbalance is the major underlying cause of abdominal bloating during a woman's life, experts also point out digestive disturbances may be caused by other, less common, underlying conditions including thyroid conditions, sleep disorders, and as a side effect of certain types of medication.
Some women are more likely than others to suffer from symptoms of abdominal bloating because of inherent psychological, behavioral, and health reasons - such as obesity, stress, or a specific family history. These predisposing factors can affects a woman's hormone levels and increase the chances of developing abdominal bloating during and after her reproductive life.
In addition to long-term risk factors, abdominal bloating can also be triggered by certain environmental factors and behavioral habits. Avoiding these unhealthy environments or habits as much as possible may help to avoid the onset of mood-related symptoms. These include habits like drinking carbonated beverages and keeping a stomach-irritating diet, as well as other external triggers.
Because each woman has her own individual way of managing her diet and judges the amount of discomfort she is experiencing under a different standard, each one will experience abdominal bloating to a different degree. However, many symptoms of abdominal bloating are very similar in nature, especially among women undergoing hormonal imbalance.
As opposed to more noticeable symptoms, medical signs are measurable criteria that are usually assessed by a physician. The following medical signs will most likely be taken into account by a physician when diagnosing the disorder:
To diagnose and identify the symptoms of abdominal bloating, a doctor must typically perform three procedures. First, he or she should review the patient's medical history, then conduct a physical exam, and finally order additional tests, if necessary.
Women who experience frequent problems with abdominal bloating that are interfering with their daily lives may wish to treat or learn how to prevent them. Keep reading below to learn useful techniques and habits that will prevent abdominal bloating or make it more manageable.
While there is no single way to completely prevent abdominal bloating, just as there is no way to stave off natural hormonal processes, there are a few steps that a woman can take to reduce her chances of experiencing it, or to minimize the frequency and intensity of its episodes.
Lifestyle changes for prevention are extremely important, especially in regard to diet, exercise, and healthy habits. Moreover, women may seek ways to complement these lifestyle approaches with the use of supplements that help enhance the endocrine system and, therefore, help prevent or ease symptoms of hormonal imbalance, such as abdominal bloating.
For women who are already experiencing abdominal bloating, prevention may not be possible if the symptoms have already appeared. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage them in order to prevent these “flare-ups” or to lessen the intensity of the symptoms. Keep reading to learn about the different ways to manage abdominal bloating.
Wherever a woman happens to be when experiencing abdominal bloating or other types of digestive problems, there are effective ways to instantly manage the symptom. Making minor daily changes and avoiding triggers can make huge different for women who are trying to manage abdominal bloating.
There are certain tips and tricks available that can help improve the experience of abdominal bloating, giving women the tools they need to cope with the uncomfortable feeling of abdominal fullness or the urge to pass some wind. There are general tips that women of all ages can use, including foods to avoid, or keeping more careful track of symptoms.
Alternative treatments are also a great way to manage frequent abdominal bloating. These treatments will not tackle the hormonal cause behind most women's mood swings, but they are effective in reducing stress in the short and medium term. Alternative treatments include massage and acupuncture.
If you notice yourself getting bloated on your period, it's most likely because of changes in estrogen. Estrogen affects water retention as well as the body's ability to digest fats, which means that changes in your estrogen level during the menstrual cycle can affect bloating.
Many times, abdominal bloating may become inevitable at some point of a woman's life. While there is no magical fix, it is more than possible to find an effective treatment for abdominal bloating.
Three levels of approaches can be considered for treating bloating. These are categorized as: (1) Lifestyle Changes, (2) Alternative Medicine and (3) Pharmaceutical Options.
It is recommended that a woman begins with the least risky option to abdominal bloating treatment, lifestyle changes, before progressing to the next stage of care. While medical intervention is not usually necessary to treat abdominal bloating, some women who are unable to find relief from lifestyle changes and alternative medicine may wish to consider pharmaceutical options, after properly assessing the risks associated with such a treatment.
This primary level of treatment involves the least amount of risk, though conversely it requires the highest amount of self-discipline. Simple changes in lifestyle can reap huge benefits in fighting bloating and achieving a higher overall level of health. Fundamentally, an improved diet, regular exercise, and healthy habits can do a woman great service.
While these changes will help alleviate abdominal bloating, they do not directly address hormonal imbalance, the most common cause of recurrent abdominal bloating in women of reproductive age. So, further treatment may be necessary. Alternative medicine has proven to be an excellent way of treating abdominal bloating related to hormonal imbalance in a safe and natural way.
Alternative medicines and supplements involve little to no risk and can be an extremely effective way to treat abdominal bloating. In the case of herbal supplements, there are two main types that can be used: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating herbal supplements.
These supplements, such as black cohosh or vitex chasteberry, contain estrogenic components produced by plants that complement the low estrogen hormones in a woman's body, helping alleviate abdominal bloating. By introducing plant-based estrogens into the body, these herbs treat the underlying estrogen deficiency behind abdominal bloating.
They are mainly effective for menopausal women who are more likely to have low estrogen levels but are not necessarily effective for women in other stages of life such as puberty.
These supplements, including Macafem stimulate the body's natural hormone production by nourishing the pituitary and endocrine glands, helping the whole hormonal system produce hormones more efficiently. This ultimately results in balancing not only estrogen but other important hormones such as progesterone.
These supplements can be considered the safest and most natural way to treat the underlying hormonal imbalance behind abdominal bloating, and can be taken throughout a woman's life, as they support the body's natural hormone production.
Additionally, there are some other types of supplements that can also alleviate abdominal bloating, or at least make it more manageable, including vitamins and other herbal supplements.
A combination of approaches is usually the most effective route to take. Lifestyle changes combined with alternative medicine will most likely be the best way to alleviate the symptoms of abdominal bloating. However, for some women the symptoms will be so severe that a more drastic treatment is necessary.
Interventions at the third level involve the highest risk and often the highest cost. Not all treatments are suitable for women at every life stage, so it is strongly recommended to speak to a licensed healthcare practitioner before starting any pharmaceutical treatments for abdominal bloating.
There are two main types of pharmaceutical options that can be prescribed to treat abdominal bloating: hormone-regulating medication and digestion-regulating medication.
These three approaches are not mutually exclusive. A woman may use different approaches at different times or any combination of them, depending on the duration and severity of symptoms. Today, more and more women find that dealing with symptoms of hormonal imbalance is best accomplished via a combination of healthy lifestyle and alternative treatments.
A better understanding of how your body works will help you cope with hormonal fluctuations.
Detecting symptoms of hormonal imbalance can prevent you from developing serious conditions.
Implement simple lifestyle changes and natural approaches to prevent, manage, and relieve symptoms.