Bloating and PCOS
Do you look at the mirror and wonder why your stomach looks like a balloon while you want it to look like a flat tire? Us cysters with PCOS or Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome can attest to the fact that suffering from this condition means an endless battle with bloating. It is a condition where you go through a myriad of symptoms on a day-to-day basis making life more challenging. One such symptom is bloating which leaves behind a feeling of discomfort throughout the day. In this article let’s explore why PCOS-induced bloating happens and navigate through some ways that will help improve this said symptom.
The Whys of PCOS Bloating:
PCOS causes a ripple effect in the body which causes various physiological changes. Which of these changes are responsible for the bloating you suffer from.
Sex hormones and water retention:
One of the most important reasons for bloating is water retention. You might feel heavier than usual and feel lethargic throughout the day when bloating sets in. We know PCOS causes a hormonal imbalance in the body, what we are unaware of is the repercussions the hormones have on water retention. In PCOS, there is an imbalance of sex hormones which are progesterone and estrogen. With an increase in estrogen, you see an increase in water retention in the body which becomes a major cause for bloating to occur.
Imbalance in Gut Flora:
There is a colony of bacteria living in the stomach that pretty much controls the overall quality of our life. There are two types, one is a predominant microflora which brings good benefits to the body and there is a subdominant type that behaves as the troublemakers. Studies have shown that there is an alteration in this colony for one living with PCOS. Due to the reduction of good bacteria in the gut, the digestion process is hampered, as a result, food sits in the stomach for more time, ferments and causes bloating. Therefore when the gut bacteria is compromised there is a proinflammatory reaction that happens which causes a range of gut-related symptoms including bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and more.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS):
If you are suffering from PCOS-related infertility and you are going through a fertility treatment then you might be at risk of OHSS induced bloating. There are several hormone injections involved in a fertility treatment that gets the ovaries to make the egg required for fertilization. Since the ovaries are overstimulated there is a chain reaction of increase in the estrogen leading to water retention and bloating. So, expect a certain amount of bloating if you are trying to conceive through hormone treatments.
There are certain foods that can trigger worsening of your PCOS symptoms like gluten, dairy, mushrooms, soy, peanuts, among others. In these cases, the gut lining gets inflamed by the intake of these food items because of which there is discomfort leading to bloating in the gut. Even certain raffinose (a type of carbohydrate) containing food like beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., can cause fermentation in the gut leading to bloating. Going on an elimination diet will help remove the allergens from the diet and reintroduce them later at a slow pace to ensure as little damage to the stomach lining as possible.
How to deflate your bloat in PCOS:
Here are the top 5 pointers that will help in reducing the bloating that is induced by PCOS.
- Avoid cold foods and drinks: Eating a cold meal or drinking ice-cold water has a negative effect on the stomach acids thereby causing more bloating and acidity.
- Eat well-cooked food. Cooking is a form of digesting as the process softens the nutrients including fiber which is easier for the stomach to digest thereby leading to lesser bloating/ acidity.
- Avoid heavy meals: Ever wondered why your stomach feels big after a big hearty meal? This is because the larger the meal, the longer it takes to be processed in the gut which can cause bloating.
- Less salt and more spices: Salt is one of the biggest culprits to cause bloating but without salt food almost seems tasteless. Replace salt with different varieties of spices which will add flavor as well help in reducing bloating. Alternate between pink salt, black salt and regular salt in the diet.
- Chew well. Chew your food thoroughly which allows the fiber to break down better and thereby lesser bloating/ acidity.
Hopefully, this read helped you understand the causes of your PCOS bloating better so you can be more aware of your system and understand your symptoms clearly. Meet a doctor and nutritionist to help you navigate through this vicious cycle of bloating that your PCOS is going to induce on you. Here at Uvi, we have experts that will give you personalized assistance in managing and reversing your PCOS symptoms.
- Wang, L., Zhou, J., Gober, H. J., Leung, W. T., Huang, Z., Pan, X., … & Wang, L. (2021). Alterations in the intestinal microbiome associated with PCOS affect the clinical phenotype. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 133, 110958.
- Stachenfeld N. S. (2008). Sex hormone effects on body fluid regulation. Exercise and sport sciences reviews, 36(3), 152–159. https://doi.org/10.1097/JES.0b013e31817be928
- Saha, P. K., Goel, P., & Tandon, R. (2013). Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) Presented as Massive Hydrothorax. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 7(12), 2996–2997. https://doi.org/10.7860/JCDR/2013/6623.3824
Written by: UVI Health
Cover Illustration by: Atlas Bloomed