Have you ever had that feeling when your stomach seems to be full of air, and you frequently pass gas? Or, you feel like your face is a lot bigger than yesterday? Bloating and water retention are less known symptoms of menopause. However, they also happen to some women.
Learn how bloating and water retention affects women in menopause, why they happen, and how you can get rid of the excess baggage!
What are Bloating and Water Retention?
Bloating occurs when a person feels the abdomen to be really tight. Most of the time, this tightness is associated with flatulence of frequent passing of gas. Usually, the bloating period lasts from several minutes to a few days, depending on the management.
Water retention, on the other hand, is the pooling of water in the body. Instead of letting the water out of our system, the body tends to keep it inside. Normally, water has to pass through the kidneys to be filtered, and water that is not absorbed and used by the body is excreted.
With water retention, the water remains in other parts of the body and does not pass through the kidneys. This often results in having very concentrated urine, manifested by dark yellow to amber-colored urine.
Although these two symptoms may sound and work differently, they often come together. In fact, they are highly related and could come from a single cause, especially during menopause.
Why Do They Happen in Menopause?
Many reasons can cause bloating and water retention in menopause. From aging itself, physical inactivity and hormonal imbalance. Our female hormones estrogen and progesterone play a great role in fluid regulation and excretion, so some organs in the body are affected when they decline. Here are some causes why bloating and fluid retention occur in menopause:
As a result of low estrogen, the liver gets affected by this change, and it causes fewer or irregular bile releases. Bile is responsible for the breakdown of fats, the balance of fluids, and intestinal lining protection. When the release of bile from the liver is very irregular, this could affect other parts of the body in a domino effect.
Water will start to pool, the small intestines lose their lubrication, and the fat becomes difficult to break down. The pooling of water in the body actually causes edema or swelling of certain parts of the body. Usually, the swelling is highly evident in the feet, legs and arms. This water retention can also cause a bloated abdomen.
When fat is not properly digested, this could actually cause an airy stomach. This is when bloating happens. There is just too much air that the abdomen feels distended or tight. The bloating could be worsened when there is too little lubrication in the lining of the small intestine. This causes the food inside the intestine to become compact and difficult to push down to the rectum and out of the body. In return, the food you eat actually gets stuck for a long period, which adds more to the stomach’s fullness.
The Lymphatic System
As we age, we tend to become inactive. As a result, our systems will slow down – including the lymphatic system — the lymphatic system is responsible for draining fluids in the body and excreting excess water.
If it is slowed down, it will not function well, and with increasing amounts of water, it can get overwhelmed. Its inability to drain water fast enough will cause fluid to accumulate around the tissues causing swelling in various parts of the body, including the abdomen, ankles, legs and feet. Read the importance of the lymphatic system!
According to a study by the American Journal of Physiology, hormonal imbalance can affect the water balance in the body. Research was tested on rats and it was found that low levels of estrogen can cause water retention.
Low levels of estrogen during menopause can negatively affect the water-absorbing channels of the kidneys. When this happens, it will mess up the amount of water reabsorbed by the kidneys, thus causing water retention.
For people who do not have any health concerns, bloating is most often caused by stress and diet. Water retention is mainly caused by imbalanced diet and existing medical condition that affects the kidneys.
How do I Prevent Bloating and Water Retention?
If you have already experienced water retention and bloating, you don’t have to go straight to a doctor for help. Be wise and knowledgeable enough to manage your menopausal symptoms. Yes! You have the power over your menopause years, and you can actually do it!
There are several things you can do to prevent bloating and water retention, especially during menopause. Check them out below!
Watch what you eat
One great way to address bloating is to allow your digestive tract to move. What you can do is to eat fibrous food items like fruits and vegetables. Some Superfoods like Chia Seeds are also helpful for better digestion! Vegetables are not only good for the prevention of bloating, but they are great for your overall menopause health. They can give you vitamins and minerals that you need! Want to know their magic? Learn more about vitamins and minerals.
It is also important to avoid food items that are gas-formers, just like potatoes, sweet potatoes and beans, to avoid bloating. For water retention, it could help if you choose foods that are natural diuretics, just like broccoli and cauliflower! Some good natural diuretics include cranberry, parsley, nettle, dandelion and fennel seeds. They allow you to pee naturally.
Keep a low salt diet. Salt contains sodium, which can increase water retention. Avoid fast and junk foods as well. You also need to be careful about what you drink. Most caffeinated drinks can cause bloating. Experts suggest that you eat small but frequent meals. In this way, your intestines and stomach will not get too full, and they will have enough time for proper digestion.
As cliche as it may sound, exercise can pump up your body, promote excretion of excess fluids, and improve blood circulation. If tweaking your diet is not enough, try some exercise, yoga poses, and body positioning. Yes! It sounds unreal, right? But, proper body positioning can actually help relieve bloating. The right body positions would help you pass out as much gas as possible to get rid of the bloated feeling.
Imagine the path of your large intestine. It is actually in the form of an inverted letter “U” with a little inverted “L” at the end leading the way to the anus. Now, what you want to do is for the air to pass through the large intestine and go outside from the anus.
To do this, lay yourself flat on your back for 3 minutes to allow normal bowel movement. After that, raise your upper body by laying on 2 to 3 pillows. Do this for a minute or two. Then, lay on your right for another minute. For the next minute, remove the pillows behind your head. Lay on your back, fold your knees and bring them slightly apart for balance and raise your buttocks. You can support your buttocks with your hands to keep it raised or put a pillow under it. Now, bring your buttocks down and lay on your left. Allow the gas to pass, and your distended abdomen will feel better.
You can see that it is really very easy to do! If the positioning is not enough you can resort to some good yoga techniques. Here’s a video by Sarah Beth that can help [2:59].
To avoid bloating and water retention, maintain proper hydration. Although it may seem to contradict, drinking more water is actually very effective in relieving those symptoms. The salt in the body attracts water. However, when there is more water in the body, the amount of salt will be regulated. In this case, the water will not pool in many parts of the body but will now be absorbed well, pass through the kidneys and get excreted out.
Another natural and good way for you to manage bloating and retention is to drink coconut juice. Coconut is rich in potassium , which is a good regulator of salt. When you drink coconut water, it will help neutralize the amount of salt in your body and lessen water pooling in return.
Fermented food may also help with the management of both bloating and water retention. This could include items like Sauerkraut, Natto, Kefir, and Yogurt. Some good probiotic drinks may also be helpful.
You may also want to get a good treatment for your bloating and water retention. You can check out some good whey drink like Molkosan Vitality and some Chia Seeds to help you improve your digestion! Both are herbal treatments for bloating and they could help you as well. Senokot is also a great treatment for digestion and bloating. Since the cause of bloating and water retention in menopause is usually related to hormonal changes, the right BHRT and HRT methods may be able to help you as well.
If all else fails, then you can resort to getting medical help. If the symptoms persist for two weeks or more, you may want to talk to your doctor about it. The doctor may prescribe you the right medication or exercise techniques to help you get rid of bloating and water retention.
Do you like to share your experiences and ideas about bloating and water retention? Be one with us in our empowerment against menopausal symptoms! Let us know your thoughts. Share in the comment box below!