3 Signs You Might Be Dealing With Hormonal Bloating

Everyone has experienced the uncomfortable feeling of bloating at some point in their lives. For some, this can be triggered by a big meal or eating a particular food. However, food isn’t the only culprit when it comes to symptoms like bloating. 

While food is generally the source of digestive issues like bloating and intestinal gas, abdominal bloating can also be caused by hormonal changes. Hormonal bloating, sometimes referred to as period bloating, is a very common premenstrual syndrome or PMS symptom. 

This article explores the connection between hormone imbalances and abdominal bloating, examining some of the most common signs and helpful tips to beat the bloat

A Look at Abdominal Bloating

Abdominal bloating is an uncomfortable condition that is typically linked to digestion. Bloating can cause abdominal discomfort and even pain. It is generally described as a tightness or fullness felt in the belly.

In terms of the digestive system, medical conditions like functional gastrointestinal disorders are the most likely source of bloating symptoms. Up to 96 percent of those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) experience bloating as an associated symptom.

Common Causes of Abdominal Bloating

The symptoms of bloating can vary from person to person, as can the causes. While digestive conditions are a likely cause, they’re not the only source of abdominal bloating. 

Intestinal gas can cause bloating.

Buildup from gas in the digestive tract is one of the most common causes of bloating. Gas is normal during digestion as nutrients like carbohydrates are broken down by gut bacteria (fermentation). Excess gas can also be caused by things as simple as swallowing too much air while eating, chewing gum, or drinking carbonated beverages. 

Bloating can be caused by constipation.

Issues of constipation are another common cause of bloating. Constipation makes bowel movements less frequent and more difficult to pass, causing symptoms of bloating. Constipation can be brought on by dehydration, medications, bowel disorders, or a lack of dietary fiber. 

Food intolerances can cause bloating symptoms.

Food intolerance is another major culprit of bloating. Those with food intolerances, also called food sensitivities, have an issue digesting or breaking down certain foods. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating. Common food intolerances include sensitivities to gluten and dairy (lactose). 

Abdominal Bloating and Hormone Levels

According to the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, bloating symptoms affect nearly one in seven Americans weekly. The data also suggests that women experience symptoms of bloating in greater numbers than men. 

This has to do with hormone fluctuations experienced by women during the menstrual cycle and perimenopause. Bloating during or around menstruation is often referred to as period bloating or hormonal bloating. 

According to data from BCM Women’s Health, around 62 percent of women experience symptoms of premenstrual bloating, while half experience bloating during their period.

3 Signs You Could Have Hormonal Bloating

As a symptom, bloating is a sign and symptom pointing to other issues. In this case, those issues are hormonal changes. So, signs that you could be dealing with hormonal bloating will tend to be associated symptoms along with bloating. Let’s take a look at the most common. 

1. Issues With Bowel Movements and Constipation

Whilst we need hormones to function optimally, they can be quite troublesome when they’re out of whack. For many, hormonal bloating will coincide with other digestive symptoms, such as sluggish bowel movements, constipation, and flatulence. 

This has to do with changes in progesterone, which is one of the female sex hormones used for regulating menstruation. Progesterone levels tend to be high before menstruation, which has a calming effect on things like digestion. However, as the period approaches, these levels fall sharply, leading to issues with digestion — including bloating. 

2. Bloating Occurs Alongside Other PMS Symptoms

One of the tell-tale signs that you could be dealing with hormonal bloating caused by hormone fluctuation is that bloating tends to occur alongside other symptoms of PMS. More than 90 percent of women experience some premenstrual symptoms, including bloating. 

In addition to the abdominal tightness or fullness that comes with hormonal bloating, other associated symptoms could include:

  • Headache
  • Acne
  • Food cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Lower back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Cramping 
  • Swollen or tender breasts

For the most part, PMS symptoms can be alleviated with diet, reduced stress, rest and gentle exercise. 

3. Associated Weight Gain With Bloating

For many, hormonal bloating is also associated with fluctuations in weight, particularly weight gain. This weight gain tends to be slight and occurs during the period. Changes in hormone levels are the likely culprit. In most cases, this type of weight gain is caused by water retention. 

What Causes Hormonal Bloating?

As stated above, most bloating symptoms are linked to digestion issues. While hormonal bloating can certainly be associated with digestive issues, more is likely happening below the surface. 

This type of bloating is caused primarily by fluctuations in hormone levels that occur leading up to and during menstruation. This includes changes to the levels of two sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone. 

Shortly before a period begins (about a week), progesterone levels start to drop. This drop in progesterone levels causes the uterus to shed its lining during ovulation, causing menstrual bleeding. Some women’s health and wellness researchers believe there is also a link between sex hormones and fluid retention in the body. 

The changes in the progesterone and estrogen levels that occur can actually cause the body to retain more water and sodium (salt). This can also contribute to the feeling of bloating as the cells in the body swell with water. 

Some Risk Factors for Hormonal Bloating

Most cases of hormonal bloating coincide with other symptoms that occur during menstruation. But, it is important to know that some common risk factors could increase the chances of experiencing hormonal bloating:

  • Certain digestive disorders can contribute to a higher risk of hormonal bloating and increase symptom severity. These digestive disorders may include issues like IBS, chronic constipation and more. 
  • Age is another risk factor for experiencing symptoms of hormonal bloating. For example, women in their 30s and older are much more likely to experience symptoms of hormonal bloating due to increased hormone activity. This can be due to perimenopause and menopause. 
  • Certain lifestyle factors can increase a person’s risk for hormonal bloating, particularly dietary choices. For example, salty and highly processed foods can worsen symptoms of hormonal bloating by promoting water retention. 

Tips To Reduce Hormonal Bloating

Thankfully, there are some easy ways you can beat the hormonal bloat. Most of these tips simply require lifestyle changes.

We recommend starting with the below. 

1. Make Sure You’re Getting Plenty of Exercise

The numerous benefits of regular exercise are well established. Daily exercise can help you reach weight loss and avoid unnecessary weight gain. But it can also help improve certain period symptoms, including hormonal bloating. 

Most health experts recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly, or 30 minutes daily for five days a week. This can include simple exercises like walking, running, swimming, and strength training. 

Our tip - schedule a gentle walk after dinner to assist digestion. 

2. Making Changes to Your Diet

Along with exercise, you can also make changes to your diet to reduce symptoms of hormonal bloating. For example, try to avoid foods that are high in sodium. While sodium helps keep body fluids in balance, too much can increase fluid retention, adding to bloating symptoms. 

Try to add more potassium-rich foods into your diet as well. Potassium can help balance out the effects of sodium in the body by increasing urine production and reducing water retention. 

Foods high in potassium include:

  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Sweet potatoes

If fluid retention is a source of bloating, you can also try diuretic supplements. However, there are also several natural diuretic foods, such as cucumbers, leeks, celery, and more. Most importantly, ensure you’re still drinking plenty of water. 

3. Using the Right Supplements

Many choose to use OTC treatments to reduce bloating, like anti-gas tablets. Also, minerals like magnesium may help relieve bloating symptoms by reducing water retention. 

For those dealing with hormonal bloating and other digestive issues, probiotics can help support healthy digestion and bowel function. 

If you’re looking for relief from hormonal bloating and are seeing extra support for the body's natural detoxification process, our Bloating + Metabolism kit contains two of our bestselling formulas. 

With proven ingredients like turmeric, milk thistle, and fennel, the formulas help to soothe symptoms of bloating and digestive discomfort while helping you combat unwanted sugar cravings. Perfect all month round!

The Bottom Line

Hormonal bloating is a common symptom associated with premenstrual syndrome. It can be made worse by digestive issues, heightened stress and certain lifestyle factors. 

Thankfully, there are proven ways to help reduce bloating that comes with hormonal changes, which involve sustainable lifestyle changes alongside high quality supplement formulas to support you.


Understanding Bloating and Distension | IFFGD

Abdominal Bloating in the United States: Results of a Survey of 88,795 Americans Examining Prevalence and Healthcare Seeking | Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women | PMC

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) | Office on Women's Health

Sex Hormone Effects on Body Fluid Regulation | PMC