Most people know the feeling of being bloated after eating a big meal or drinking a large beverage. However, sometimes bloating occurs that doesn’t have a clear cause. Many people don’t realize that hormones can be a major cause of bloating. Changes in the hormones tend to cause bloating in women experiencing menopause, menstruation, or any type of hormonal change.
Keep reading to discover the signs and causes of hormonal bloating, how to treat and prevent it, and when hormonal testing may be needed.
What is hormonal bloating?
Hormonal bloating is a sensation in which the stomach sticks out more than usual. Your pants may feel tight, or you may feel like your abdomen is filled with air. Hormonal bloating is bloating that is specifically related to a hormonal change, whether it be menopause, pregnancy, or menstruation. Many women experience hormonal bloating during their menstrual cycle due to changes in estrogen and progesterone levels.
Signs of hormonal bloating
If you think you may be experiencing hormonal bloating, you’ve likely experienced some hormonal change recently. Hormonal changes can occur at all stages of life. Common times when women experience hormonal bloating include at the start of menstruation, early pregnancy, and during menopause. You may experience hormonal bloating outside of these life stages, though, if you are dealing with a different type of hormonal issue. Hormonal issues can occur for various reasons, including lifestyle choices and diet.
Other symptoms that may accompany hormonal bloating include headache, gassiness, belching, and abdominal pain. Many women experience hormonal bloating as a PMS sign. Other PMS signs include moodiness, fatigue, cramps, and acne.
What causes hormonal bloating
Hormonal bloating is typically related to changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormones fluctuate throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle and change significantly during pregnancy and menopause. Changes in progesterone and estrogen levels can cause the body to retain more water and salt, which leads to general swelling and bloating.
How to stop hormonal bloating
Hormonal bloating may not be entirely avoidable, but you can take certain steps to remedy it in the hopes of having it be milder. Some tips to help stop hormonal bloating include:
Cut down on salty foods
Sodium increases your body’s water retention, and by decreasing your salt intake, you may be able to reduce how bloated you become. Try to keep your salt intake modest and avoid foods high in sodium.
Eat foods that are high in potassium
Potassium helps to reduce sodium levels to reduce your body’s water retention. Potassium-rich foods include spinach, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, and tomatoes.
Some individuals may benefit from taking diuretics if swelling and bloating become out of hand. Diuretics are foods and medications that increase urine production, helping the body rid itself of excess fluid. Since hormonal bloating is related to water retention, diuretics can likely help. You may not need a prescription for diuretic medications, but you can talk with your doctor about this option to see if it is right for you. Some foods act as natural diuretics, including asparagus, pineapple, peaches, cucumber, ginger, and garlic.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water helps you stay hydrated and may help with hormonal bloating. Staying adequately hydrated can improve kidney function, helping the body remove retained fluid.
Regular exercise helps to keep the body healthy as a whole and may help with hormonal bloating and other health issues.
When is hormonal testing needed?
If you are experiencing symptoms like hormonal bloating and other hormonal issues that are becoming debilitating, you may require hormonal testing. A hormone test is a simple blood test that can look at any of the many hormones in the body, including estrogen, progesterone, and FSH. Hormonal tests can help you understand any odd symptoms you’ve been having and give you an understanding of your body and your hormonal health.
Many women choose to have their hormones tested when they are hoping to become pregnant to help understand how fertile they are, but this isn’t the only reason to have hormones tested. Some women experience missed periods or irregular periods and may choose to have hormones tested for this reason. Thyroid disorders are another common hormonal issue many women experience that might warrant hormonal testing.
In addition to those named above, many other hormones can be tested, so it is important to talk with your doctor about what hormones you should have tested. Some common hormones that you may want to have tested include:
Progesterone is an important sex hormone. Your doctor may want to test this hormone to see if you are ovulating or to help understand your hormonal health.
Estrogen levels are another important hormone in the female reproductive system. Estrogen levels change throughout pregnancy and the menstrual cycle.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. This hormone plays an important role in fertility because it stimulates the growth of an egg in the ovary. This helps to get the egg ready for fertilization. Understanding FSH levels can give you an idea of how fertile you are and bring understanding to other symptoms that may be related to a pituitary gland issue.
The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in the body. The three main thyroid hormones include stimulating thyroid hormone (TSH), thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3). You may want to have thyroid hormones tested if experiencing symptoms that could indicate a thyroid disorder.
Where to get a hormonal test?
Your doctor may request that you have hormonal testing completed. This can easily be completed at any local clinic near you. Some medical services offer at-home blood tests like hormonal tests. If you plan to use your insurance for your hormonal tests, you’ll want to check with your provider ahead of time to see if the services will be covered.
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