Complete Symptom Guide to Menopause Bloating | Stella

Menopause and bloating


Bloating is a common symptom of menopause and perimenopause. The feeling of having a full or swollen abdomen can be uncomfortable, even painful. It can also make you feel self-conscious about your body when your belly seems swollen. Read on to find out what causes it, how long you can expect it to last, and most importantly, what you can do about it.


Bloating differs from person to person and is an uncomfortable sensation of tightness or heavy pressure usually felt around your abdomen. The severity of this discomfort can vary. For some people, there’s no pain and it’s simply uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing. For others, the pain can range from mild to intense, crippling abdominal cramps.

Although a swollen abdomen is a familiar indication of bloating, it doesn’t happen for everyone and you may instead feel uncomfortably full and heavy in your midsection. In many cases, bloating is caused by the build-up of unwanted substances in your body. The usual culprits include gas, water, air, or even poop. Certain medical conditions can also cause bloating. If this is a new or persistent problem for you, you should see your healthcare provider to be sure of the cause.

See what treatments are right for you

How common is bloating in menopause?

  • Bloating is common, especially in perimenopause, but there is a data gap showing exactly how many people this affects
  • It is also commonly caused by several medical conditions, so it’s important to check in with your healthcare provider

Read more about the stages of menopause.


Swollen or distended abdomen and cramps

A feeling of heaviness or fullness

Puffy eyes and swollen ankles

Passing gas and burping


1. Drink lots of water. Though this may sound contradictory if you’re bloated with water retention, upping your water intake will help to balance your system and flush out the excess fluids. Water also helps to ease constipation which is one of the most common causes of bloating. Make sure you are hydrated because your gastrointestinal tract needs water to function effectively.

2. Regular exercise. Being physically active can ease your bloating discomfort. Studies suggest that mild physical activity prevents gas retention because movement helps in clearing the intestines. If you’re new to regular exercise, start slowly, and build up gradually. Try low-intensity exercise like yoga, walking, jogging, hiking, or any mild exercise whenever you feel bloated.

3. Limit salt intake. Be mindful of the foods you eat to avoid overconsumption of salt and other food ingredients that may make you feel bloated.

4. Find your triggers. Keeping a food diary will help you isolate which foods or drinks are causing you discomfort so you can decide whether or not that soda is worth it. Common triggers include beans, onion, garlic, spicy foods, dairy, carbonated drinks, and caffeine. When you have an idea of which foods affect you, try eliminating them from your diet and see if it makes a difference.

5. Take probiotics. Up your intake of probiotics like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. Probiotics are essentially good bacteria that keep our digestive system healthy.

6. Massage your abdomen. Abdominal massage has been a long-time treatment for constipation. It decreases the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms and aids bowel movements to prevent gas and bloating. To give yourself an abdominal massage, lie on your back and gently massage your stomach. Massage both clockwise and counterclockwise. Apply gentle pressure on the areas you feel any pain.

7. Eat slowly. Try not to rush through your meals. Eat mindfully, being aware of every bite and focusing on the sight, sound, smell, taste, and how the food makes you feel. Eat smaller portions, take small bites, and chew slowly. Remove all distractions, and focus solely on your meal.

Can hormone therapy (HT) help?

Sometimes the best relief for menopause bloating is HT, which can restore your estrogen and progesterone levels. However, bloating alone is not a reason to start HT, and your healthcare provider will want to fully explore any underlying causes for your symptoms in the first instance. For this reason, it’s important to discuss your symptoms with them.

It’s also important to note that bloating can be a side effect of HT, particularly estrogens. This tends to settle after a few months, but you should see your healthcare provider if it persists, is severe, or is associated with any other new symptoms.


Hormonal fluctuations in menopause can cause bloating and your body to retain excess water. You may find that bloating only happens after your meals or that it may have nothing to do with food. Menopause symptoms such as stress and fatigue may contribute to abdominal symptoms like bloating.

1 Water retention

During perimenopause and menopause, your hormones – particularly estrogen, and progesterone – fluctuate dramatically.

Studies show that these hormones can influence how your body retains water.

Estrogen can trigger the production of the hormone aldosterone, responsible for sodium (salt) and water retention. When your body retains excess fluids, you experience bloating symptoms like a distended or swollen abdomen, swollen legs, puffy eyes, etc. 

This is why some report feeling bloated at certain points during their menstrual cycle when estrogen levels are at their highest. On the other hand, progesterone – sometimes known as a ‘natural diuretic’ – blocks the effect of aldosterone and helps you get rid of excess water and salt. This could potentially relieve your bloating symptoms.  

2 Stress

Many find the time around menopause stressful. Not only is your body going through changes, but midlife often brings up its own challenges of increasing work and family pressures. As well as this, hormonal changes at menopause make you more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression.

Your brain responds by releasing stress hormones, particularly cortisol. And because of the brain-gut relationship, the stress hormones slow down the movement in your digestive system and cause a build-up. It’s no coincidence that when this happens, you will feel bloated.

3 Excess gas

You may find that the fatigue and sleep issues caused by menopause have you reaching for sugary snacks and caffeine more regularly to keep your energy levels up. These foods linger in your digestive tract, ferment, and decompose to produce gas – resulting in bloating. If you find yourself persistently bloating, it may be a sign of an underlying condition like irritable bowel syndrome, and you should see your healthcare provider

4 Constipation

Constipation is really common during and after menopause and can lead to bloating and discomfort. It can be especially uncomfortable if you have any pelvic floor issues or prolapses, as these make it more difficult to open your bowels effectively.

To fight constipation, drink plenty of water (aim for 8 cups per day), exercise, and eat a fiber-rich diet.

If you notice any problems with your pelvic floor – including continence problems, pain, or prolapses – speak to your healthcare provider, who may be able to recommend a more definitive treatment.

Bloating is usually temporary and will subside within a few hours to days. Talk to your healthcare provider to rule out possible causes if you have persistent bloating.

Weight gain is common during menopause and is a gradual process taking a few weeks, months, or even years. Menopause bloating happens suddenly. 

Bloating is common but can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Check in with your healthcare provider if this is a new problem for you, or if you notice that:

  • Your stomach remains bloated for a longer time than usual or returns regularly (even if it settles in between)
  • You feel bloated for more than a week
  • You have persistently painful cramps
  • You are constipated or have diarrhea
  • You have unexpectedly lost weight
  • You can’t sleep
  • You have symptoms like nausea or vomiting 
  • You have any bleeding from your bowels or in your poop 
  • You have any irregular periods, bleeding after sex or in between periods
  • You have any pain on intercourse
  • You have any new swelling in your legs

Seek urgent help (the same day) if:

  • You have any severe pain 
  • You are unable to pass wind
  • You have any other symptoms which are severe or worrying

While bloating is usually caused by a minor condition, it can sometimes be a sign of a more serious illness. 

One rarer cause that you may have heard about is ovarian cancer. This can cause some subtle symptoms including bloating, feeling full more quickly after meals, and an increased need to pee. 

These are all things that could be easily dismissed, and highlight the reason that it’s important to check in with your healthcare provider if something isn’t right – even if it isn’t dramatic or painful. If you are worried about ovarian cancer, your healthcare provider can do a few simple tests (which may include examination, blood work, or an ultrasound scan) to investigate further.

Bloating can also be caused by conditions affecting the bowels, liver, and heart among others. Keep a log of your symptoms if possible – this may help your healthcare provider to pinpoint the exact cause.


Oat & Almond Pancakes

Our recipes with the best foods for menopause. Read more

Five reasons to quit sugar during menopause and how to do it. Read more

What are the signs of perimenopause? Read more

See what treatments are right for you

  • App-based personalised lifestyle plan
  • Supportive coaching to motivate you
  • Medical review & online doctor appointments