Bloating is a common complaint, and there are a vast number of reasons why it can happen, but some women find it is particularly prominent during the time of their menstrual periods. There is certainly connection between the two, but not everyone knows exactly what that is. Read on to find out more about menstrual periods and bloating and how they are linked.
Menstrual periods occur once a month and are part of a larger menstrual cycle, which generally lasts for about 28 days. Menstrual periods are fairly regular throughout a woman's fertile years, beginning when she is around 12 years old and ending when she in in her 40s or 50s.
The menstrual cycle is regulated by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and changes in their levels are responsible for many of the symptoms a woman might feel during her periods, such as bloating. Women typically experience symptoms a few days before bleeding starts, when a sharp drop in hormone levels triggers the shedding of the uterus lining. The most fertile time for a woman on average is around two weeks before the start of the next period.
Bloating can be uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful, and is caused by intestinal gas or water retention. The bloating itself does not normally last long each time, and it generally disappears on its own after a while. However, sometimes it can occur frequently and become a nuisance.
There are a number of factors that can lead to bloating, including hormonal imbalances, diet, dehydration, and medical conditions. Some people will be more susceptible than others, but on the whole, it can be managed. Symptoms can include:
- A feeling of fullness in the abdominal area
- Tightness around the stomach
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Increased flatulence
- Increased burping
Are They Linked?
Although bloating has many other causes, it is sometimes linked to the menstrual cycle, and many women find they are more likely to experience bloating around the time of their period. The bloating is generally caused when the levels of estrogen suddenly drop; throughout the menstrual cycle they are rising, but when the egg is not fertilized, there is a decrease in estrogen which prompts the lining of the womb to shed. Estrogen affects not only the reproductive cycle, but also many other systems in the body, and this can cause various digestive problems, and an increase in water retention and intestinal gas is one of them.
There is an inextricable link between bloating and menstrual periods, although they do not always go hand-in-hand. The hormonal changes are mostly to blame, but this does not mean bloating has to be inevitable. Working out strategies to deal with bloating pre-emptively or whenever it strikes will make your menstrual periods far more bearable. Read more useful information about bloating.
- Endometriosis UK. (n.d.). Understanding Endometriosis. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://endometriosis-uk.org/understanding-endometriosis
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Beat the Bloat. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/digestive-health/Pages/beat-the-bloat.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (n.d). Periods. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2012). Gas - flatulence. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003124.htm