Bloating commonly occurs as a result of eating or drinking a large amount, having trapped gas, or retaining fluid. However, it can also be a symptom of PCOS.
Bloating is an uncomfortable feeling of tightness or fullness in the abdomen. Some people with bloating may also experience distention, in which the abdomen becomes physically larger alongside the bloated feeling. The most common cause of bloating is excess gas.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes symptoms throughout the body. Research suggests a link between the gut and PCOS development — specifically, changes in gut bacteria and decreased gut bacteria diversity. This may relate to
This article will explore the prevalence of bloating in PCOS, possible causes, and relief options.
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In a typical cycle, a person has more progesterone than estrogen in their body after ovulation. Progesterone is a natural hormonal diuretic, meaning it helps the body release excess fluids.
A common symptom of PCOS is anovulation, or lack of ovulation. If ovulation does not occur, the body may not produce enough progesterone. This may lead to water retention, which is a common cause of bloating.
A 2022 study suggests that hormonal changes may cause bloating in people with PCOS. Researchers theorize that these hormonal changes may affect gut flora and bile acids associated with digestion.
Certain medications commonly prescribed to treat PCOS symptoms can cause bloating as a side effect.
For example, metformin is a medication that doctors commonly prescribe to manage PCOS symptoms, particularly insulin resistance. However, metformin can cause bloating, nausea, and flatulence.
Clomiphene is a medication that doctors prescribe to induce ovulation in women with anovulation. According to 2016 research, clinical trials found bloating to be a common side effect of the medication.
It is important to note that a person should talk with a doctor before starting a diet or trying a new supplement or medication.
FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.” It is a method for identifying foods in a person’s diet that trigger uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Experts recommend following a plan that limits FODMAP-containing foods for 4–6 weeks, gradually introducing foods back to the diet, and taking note of which cause symptoms.
Medications and supplements
Simethicone is one medication a doctor may recommend to help reduce symptoms of gas, such as bloating, abdominal pressure, and a feeling of fullness. It does not typically cause side effects and comes in multiple forms.
Antispasmodics help reduce muscle spasms. Research also suggests that they may help ease bloating. For example, in a 2019 study, the antispasmodic pinaverium bromide significantly eased bloating, and people who took the antispasmodic otilonium bromide experienced less bloating than people who took a placebo.
Prebiotics are a type of fiber that act as food for helpful bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are live microorganisms that come from certain foods and supplements.
A supplement that may help ease bloating is peppermint oil. However, as with all supplements, peppermint oil can cause side effects, and it is not suitable for use by all people.
Gently massaging the abdomen from right to left may help move trapped gas through the gastrointestinal tract.
Physical activity may also help reduce bloating that occurs after eating. Research from 2021 found that a
A person may also wish to avoid certain foods and drinks that have associations with gas and bloating. These include:
- fizzy drinks
- heavily processed foods
Bloating is a common occurrence in people with and without PCOS. It may occur as a symptom of hormonal changes associated with PCOS, or it may be the result of medications used to treat PCOS. In most cases, it is the result of excess gas.
A person who experiences prolonged or bothersome bloating may wish to talk with a doctor about medical interventions and lifestyle changes. These can be effective for people with and without PCOS.