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You’ve eaten lunch and BAM! Your belly’s puffed up and it’s really, really uncomfortable.

You know you need to unbutton your trousers... but Angela from Accounts is sitting right next to you. 

So what causes bloating in menopause? Well, once again, it's most likely down to pesky oestrogen and progesterone playing the biggest ping-pong match of your life.

It’s during the perimenopause – the run-up to the menopause when our hormones start going berserk – that most women first notice this symptom.

This can then carry on through the menopause, settling down once you’ve completely stopped ovulating. This is because the body then produces a consistently lower level of hormones, which we get used to.

It’s worth noting however that bloating can be caused by lifestyle factors such as your diet, how much exercise you do and if you smoke. You may also be prone to bloating if you’re sensitive to specific foods or have allergies.

Our

Advice and
guidance

Want to know how to reduce bloating in menopause? We’ve got some trusty GenM top tips to help you fight back against swollen tums and trumpy bums.

EAT WITH YOUR MOUTH CLOSED

If you love to talk over lunch or dinner, this might actually be adding to your tummy troubles.

When we eat with our mouths open, we swallow more air, which can become trapped and fill us up like an airbed.

Keep your mouth closed and chew your food properly to start the digestive process off right.

AVOID FIZZY DRINKS AND CHEWING GUM

Both carbonated drinks and gum are sure-fire ways to fill your belly with air.

Stick to water. We know it’s the less exciting option but it’s definitely the safest. Staying hydrated can not only help ward off bloating but help with other menopausal symptoms including food cravings and hot flushes.

GO LOW FODMAP

FODMAP stands for ‘Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols’. Essentially these are short-chain carbs which we struggle to digest. They end up fermenting in the colon, creating excess gas.

Many sufferers of digestive disorders like IBS follow a low FODMAP diet, avoiding high FODMAP foods as much as possible to reduce bloating and trapped wind.

If being a menopausal whoopie-cushion or water bed is leaving you uncomfortable – or worse, in agony – it may be worth giving it a go and keeping a food diary to see what sets you off.

REDUCE YOUR ALCOHOL INTAKE

Alcohol is an inflammatory substance that irritates our digestive system causing, you guessed it, bloating.

It’s also often consumed as part of a carbonated drink. Lager, cider, G&T, fizz… it’s all gassy stuff filling your abdomen with air. Wine and beer contain sulphites too which can aggravate your tum.

Avoid or reduce your intake as much as possible, sticking to spirits with a flat mixer if you do indulge.

SMOKING CAUSES BLOATING

You know that cigarettes affect your entire body, not just your lungs.

But did you know that when smoke is inhaled, it also enters your stomach and intestines? Tobacco then irritates your digestive tract, causing bloating, cramping, gas, and those rampant rumbles.

Living in the UK? You’re four times more likely to quit with help from the NHS. Your local GP surgery can put you in touch with your nearest Stop Smoking clinic.

BE PREPARED

If the thought of releasing gas in front of your colleagues is enough to make you blush, or you’re worried your forehead’s getting sweaty from water weight discomfort, you need to be prepared.

This means dressing in comfortable, loose clothing, keeping wind-settling medication in your handbag, going for a short stroll after lunch, letting hot drinks cool a bit before enjoying them, and chew-chew-chewing your food.

Completing and repeating these steps each day should help reduce office-based episodes.

SPEAK TO YOUR GP ABOUT HRT

If bloating is really getting you down, you might want to speak to your doctor about Hormone Replacement Therapy

HRT essentially does what it says on the tin. It replaces the hormones that your body is naturally losing due to the menopause, helping to reduce symptoms.

There are a number of ways you can take HRT medications, including tablets, patches and creams. Most women can take HRT but there are some risks, which your doctor should discuss with you.

Our Advice
and guidance

to help others

HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE

A bit of bloating and a spot of gas may not feel like the end of the world to you, but they may feel very self-conscious and uncomfortable.

Here’s what you can do to support them manages their symptoms.

OUR ADVICE TO THEM

The advice we’ve shared includes eating with their mouth closed to stop her ingesting too much air, wearing loose clothing, avoiding chewing gum and really hot drinks, and taking a short walk after eating. They may also benefit from Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

CREATE A WEEKLY MEAL PLAN

FODMAP stands for ‘Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols’. Essentially these are short-chain carbs which we struggle to digest. They end up fermenting in the colon, creating excess gas.

Many sufferers of digestive disorders like IBS follow a low FODMAP diet, avoiding high FODMAP foods as much as possible to reduce bloating and trapped wind.

Why not take on this new way of eating with them? Plan meals and shop together (or take it in turns) and share the cooking so she feels completely supported, and ultimately far more comfortable.

STOP SNACK-CIDENTS IN THEIR TRACKS

If you don’t want to join them in their new diet, don’t sabotage their efforts to manage their food intake by flaunting junk food in front of them or ordering everything on the menu from the local chippy.

Can you forgo it for a while to show your support? It’s totally fair that you should eat what you want, but leaving temptations lying around for them to see is probably something they could do without.

GO WITH THE FLOW

The truth is going to social events may feel more stressful than usual, as the pressure of keeping up appearances when your clothes are tight and you feel uncomfortable is hard work.

Be prepared for plans to change at short notice and try not to put them under any pressure, even if it means you are missing out as well.

CUT DOWN ON BOOZE

Alcohol irritates our digestive system and is also often consumed as part of a carbonated drink. Lager, cider, G&T, fizz…. Wine and beer contain sulphites too which can cause more aggro.

Work as a team and help her to avoid alcohol, or reduce your joint intake as much as possible, sticking to spirits with a flat mixer if you do indulge.

STUB OUT SMOKING

While you’re on your health kick, why not do yourself a favour and cut out cigarettes too?

Did you know that if you decide to quit together you are almost six times more likely* to kick nicotine than going it alone?

Help them say goodbye to tobacco forever by ditching the smokes too. You can then keep each other going, avoid temptation and bash those cravings on the nose.

*Research by the Imperial College London

If you’re worried about bloating, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.

If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you:

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