Bloating is one of the most commonly experienced symptoms of menopause. In fact, women are more likely to have gastrointestinal problems than men are, owing to the fact that bloating is often caused by hormonal fluctuations during the menopause transition that negatively affect water retention and digestion, both of which can contribute to bloating.
Because bloating during menopause is often a result of a decline in estrogen and progesterone, this digestive problem can be treated by balancing hormones.
Three Approaches to Treating Bloating
Three approaches to treatment can be taken into consideration to address abdominal bloating. These are classified as: (1) Lifestyle Changes, (2) Alternative Medicine, and (3) Medications.
Women are recommended to start with lifestyle changes, since they carry the least amount of risk, before trying other treatment methods. In general, medications should only be a last resort if no other approach provides relief.
1. Lifestyle Changes
The first stage of treatment requires the greatest self-discipline, but fortunately, it entails no health risk. Simple lifestyle adjustments often help not only to relieve bloating, but they also improve overall health.
Dietary adjustments are the crux of dealing with digestive problems like bloating. Regulating digestion can, in turn, relieve bloated feelings. Consuming enough vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, will benefit the body and the digestive system as a whole. Specifically, foods rich in fiber - like nuts, some cereals, and whole grains - help food pass smoothly through the digestive tract without creating much gas.
Likewise, certain foods should be avoided in the diet. Processed carbohydrates, fried foods, excessive salt, soda, and beans should all be at least temporarily eliminated, since they slow down digestion, cause gas to build up, or result in increased water retention. In addition, some women develop lactose intolerance later in life, so removing dairy from the diet as an experiment may prove helpful. A meal diary may be useful in determining what foods or external conditions trigger bloating, as eating smaller meals at shorter intervals.
There is a link, albeit weak, between obesity and bloating. However, it is for certain that getting in shape will equip the body to function at its best in digestive. For example, walking and jogging could help improve weakened digestive function and gain relief from bloating.
Habits to consider
It is essential to moderate or quit bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, or consuming too much caffeine. These can have a negative effect on digestion and also worsen bloating related to hormonal imbalance.
Habits to Avoid
- Chewing gum
- Eating too fast
- Not chewing thoroughly
While lifestyle changes are a healthy and potentially highly effective way of managing symptoms of bloating, they may be hard to put into practice effectively. Additionally, they do not address the fundamental- hormonal imbalance. However, alternative medicines are a safe and effective way to relieve bloating at the source. Keep reading to find out more about natural treatments for feelings of bloating.
2. Alternative Medicine
Alternative approaches can be an effective way to treat bloating with little risk involved. This level includes several treatment methods, with herbal supplements being the most common, since they are easier to follow and entail less of a time and money commitment. Additionally, some supplements can treat the root hormonal imbalance that causes cases of menopausal bloating.
There are two main kinds of herbal supplements that apply to treatment of hormonal imbalances: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating herbal supplements.
In the case of phytoestrogenic supplements, plant-based compounds called phytoestrogens function like estrogen in the body to compensate for a deficiency of that hormone. This can balance estrogen levels and may relieve bloating, but the prolonged use of these supplements can make the body less able to produce hormones naturally.
In the case of hormone regulating supplements, no hormones are present. Instead, these supplements nourish the endocrine system and thereby promote natural hormone production. This balances hormone levels. Because of their natural mechanism, these supplements are considered to be safe and effective, and they can be used as much as necessary.
From “Nature and Health Magazine”, biologist Gloria Chacon says:
Herbs for Relieving Digestive Problems
A combination of approaches - typically lifestyle adjustments plus herbal supplements - is commonly the most effective form of treatment, but for severe bloating, medical intervention may be necessary. In such cases, it is crucial to evaluate the risks and benefits of any given medication in order to make an informed decision.
The third stage of treatment generally entails the highest risk and is often the most expensive. In the U.S., hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been the most common medication to treat menopause symptoms for many years. While it can be a strong and fasting-acting method of alleviating bloating, it also carries the risk of adverse side effects like stroke and breast cancer, as revealed in the study below.
In 1991, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). The objective of this study was to determine the pros and cons of HRT, but it was cut short 11 years later, at which time it was concluded that the hormones used increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and some types of reproductive cancer. To this date, the results have not been disputed by any subsequent study.
Other medications are available for bloating, such as antacids, but they concentrate more on relieving symptoms than treating the underlying cause. In addition, they may present side effects that outweigh any potential benefit. When considering this approach to treating bloating, it is important to first see a doctor for guidance.
More and more women are finding that a blend of lifestyle adjustments along with herbal supplements is the most effective form of treating bloating during menopause.
A Safe Way of Treating Bloating
Start by changing habits:
- Consuming nuts, cereals, and whole grains
- Exercising regularly
- Keeping hydrated
- Processed foods
- High stress levels
- Alcohol and tobacco
And taking a natural supplement that regulates hormones:
- Does not contain any synthetic hormones
- All-natural, safe, and effective
- BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
- Hutchinson, Susan M.D. "The Stages of a Woman's Life: Menstruation, Pregnancy, Nursing, Perimenopause, Menopause". November 2007.
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.