Irregular periods and bloating are two separate issues, but can sometimes co-occur, leaving some people wondering if there is a link between them. While it is true that there is a link, it is reasonably weak. Keep reading to find out more about irregular periods and bloating and how they can be connected.
Irregular periods are defined as periods as either outside the normal range for a particular woman, or markedly different from the average regularity of a woman's menstrual cycle. On average, a period lasts for five days, but for many women, they can be shorter or longer. With most women, their period will last the same amount of days every month, or there will not be a huge difference in the amount of days. However, a woman with irregular periods might never know how long her period is going to be.
The major reason for irregular periods is due to hormonal levels. In most women, the estrogen and progesterone levels will be more or less stable, leading to regular periods within an average frame. However, women with irregular periods will normally have an erratic hormone schedule, which causes the differences from cycle to cycle.
What Is Bloating?
Bloating is a feeling of tightness or fullness in the abdomen and can be very uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. In some cases, there is even a visible temporary expansion of the abdominal area. The bloating does not usually last long, but for some people, it can occur often. It can be a slow process that takes all day to develop or can be experienced directly after eating. There are a few reasons for bloating, including eating habits and unbalanced hormone levels.
There are a number of symptoms associated with the problem, and a person can experience all or just one of these. They are:
- A feeling of fullness in the abdominal area
- A feeling of tightness near the stomach
- Swelling of the abdomen
- Increased flatulence
- Increased burping
As mentioned above, both irregular periods and bloating can be caused by hormonal factors, and this explains why they can occur together. However, this link is not strong as bloating is equally, if not more, likely to be a result of eating habits, which are not connected with irregular periods. However, a woman who has the hormonal fluctuations necessary to disrupt the menstrual cycle also disrupt other systems in the body, sometimes leading to bloating.
Irregular periods and bloating can also be linked through illness, namely endometriosis. Endometriosis is a chronic condition that means the normal functioning of the uterus is affected - the endometrial cells migrate to other parts of the body, but still behave as if they are in the womb. Therefore, they still build up and break down and bleed on a monthly basis, but have no means of escape, causing pain and other problems. Irregular periods and bloating are common symptoms of this condition.
In general, irregular periods and bloating can be connected, both are harmless and do not require medical attention. However, women suffer from hormonal fluctuations, which disrupt the menstrual cycle and the digestive system. In some circumstances, having both of them severely and chronically can be indicative of something more serious, so it is safer to visit a doctor. Read more about menopausal irregular periods or bloating during menopause.
- Endometriosis UK. (n.d). Understanding Endometriosis. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from http://endometriosis-uk.org/understanding-endometriosis
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Beat the bloat. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/digestive-health/Pages/beat-the-bloat.aspx
- National Health Service UK. (2013). Causes of irregular periods. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Periods-irregular/Pages/Causes.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2012). Gas - flatulence. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ ency/article/003124.htm