PCOS & Bloating: Why does it happen and how manage it

Everyone can experience bloating on occasions, it can be the result of having too much sugar, a big meal or a bout of anxiety. However, if you find yourself feeling frequently bloated, it might be as a result of PCOS. Ladies with PCOS are more likely to suffer from bloating but many are unaware that it has anything to do with their condition, with many believing that their diet is the cause.

 Why is it that more ladies with PCOS seem to suffer from bloating than others? Diet, of course, plays a role but it is not the only reason why you might be struggling. 

Bloating and hormone imbalances 

The NHS state that PCOS is ‘related to abnormal hormone levels in the body’ and these hormone imbalances play a major role in many of the visible symptoms of PCOS such as hirsutism, acne and weight gain. Many would be surprised to hear that bloating is another symptom directly affected by abnormal hormone levels, this is because Oestrogen and progesterone are both important in fluid balance. When these hormones are not at the normal expected levels they can cause bloating.  Suffering from irregular periods is very common for those with PCOS, which can lead to a build of oestrogen in the body. High oestrogen levels can cause the body to retain water and feel uncomfortable and bloated. As is the case with many symptoms of PCOS, it is important to try and regulate your hormone levels to help manage the condition. 

 

(source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2849969/

 

Bloating, gut microbiome and diet

Women with PCOS have a different balance of gut bacteria that can reduce the absorption of nutrients and can have trouble digesting food properly. This can lead to bloating and abdominal discomfort. 

Lacking in healthy gut bacteria also reduces the effectiveness of supplements. Inofolic Alpha contains the ingredient alpha-lactalbumin, which helps with the absorption of nutrients and promotes a healthy gut.  The product also restores ovulation in 95% of PCOS women. 

Other potential causes of bloating include food intolerances. Recently, we have seen a growing number of people suffering from a wheat or dairy intolerance whereby the primary symptom is bloating. There is some evidence to show that raffinose, a carbohydrate found in many veggies including broccoli and cabbage, can cause an increase in gas production which results in bloating, this is particularly likely to occur in suffers of PCOS due to their abnormal gut microbiome. If you think you have a food intolerance, we recommend speaking to your GP for further evaluation. 

 

Ways to manage your PCOS bloat 

 

  • Use supplements 

As discussed earlier, bloating is often caused by hormone imbalances which become more complicated when you are not ovulating. Inofolic Alpha has been shown to restore ovulation in 95% of ladies with PCOS. Inofolic Alpha also contains alpha-lactalbumin, a protein which helps to promote good gut health and improve the absorption of myo-inositol. Learn more about Inofolic Alpha.  

 

 

  • Regular exercise 

This can be one of the most mentally challenging things to do when your PCOS symptoms are flaring. The idea of working up a sweat whilst feeling bloated and tired is enough to put anyone off. Just remember that by doing it you are going to be giving yourself the best chance to manage your symptoms. The NHS recommend exercise as their first way of managing bloating. This doesn’t have to be overly strenuous; a brisk walk for 20 or 30 minutes can help aid digestion and improve your metabolism. 

 

 

  •  Manage your diet 

If you suffer from PCOS, you are still likely to experience bloating even when being careful with your diet and looking after your body. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to stay active and eat healthily. Avoiding fizzy drinks or other foods high in sugar, or alongside alcohol can help reduce bloating. If you have reason to believe you have a food intolerance it is always important to speak to your GP. 

A simple test you could try to identify food that may cause you to bloat is to keep a food diary of everything you eat for a week or 2 and if you are bloating that day?  Then take a break from those foods you suspect are causing you to bloat for a few weeks to see if you notice any changes, and when introduce it back into your diet, does it cause you any discomfort? This is a great way to see what foods agree with your body and what doesn’t so when you speak to a Doctor or Dietitian about your suspected food intolerances they can help you find a healthy way to manage your discomfort without missing out on essential nutrients to support a your healthy diet.

If your bloating is, alongside other symptoms, causing a strain on your mental health, you might be interested in reading our advice on PCOS & Anxiety: Everything you need to know