Many of us have heard women say that they never had a weight problem or issues with bloating--and trying to get their pants zipped--until they went through menopause. Is there an actual reason for this or are these women simply eating too much and blaming it on menopause? The fact is there are several documented reasons why women experience bloating and weight gain during menopause. So, no, it's not in their imagination. Bloating is actually one of the side effects of fluctuating hormones.
Bloating during menopause may be caused by fluctuating hormones, particularly estrogen, according to 34-menopause-symptoms.com. Prior to peri-menopause and menopause, when a woman is about to have her menstrual period, the rising estrogen levels cause females to retain more water, which leads to bloating. When estrogen levels become inconsistent and unpredictable during peri-menopause, water retention and bloating also become erratic. You may wake up feeling fine and then within a matter of hours be bloated and rushing to unzip your pants.
We all have bile in our intestines. Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Its purpose is to aid digestion and to act as a lubrication in the intestines. When estrogen levels plummet during menopause, bile production decreases. Stools can become hard and dry and may remain in the small intestine for longer than normal because there isn't adequate lubrication. This can result in constipation and the attendant bloating, according to Menopause-symptoms.com
Many menopausal women report that they have become quite gassy. This is also due to hormonal fluctuations, which impact the production of gas. Add that to decreased bile production and water retention and bloat is almost inevitable.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
According to Heartspring.net, if a woman opts to undergo hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, during menopause, this may cause bloating along with breast tenderness, mood changes, headaches and bleeding.
Women tend to gain weight when they enter peri-menopause, which can last for several years, according to Bodylogic.md. A woman may gain an average of one pound a year until she reaches full menopause. Women who have surgical menopause--hysterectomies--gain weight even more rapidly. "Menopause weight" is courtesy of the male hormone androgen, and women will tend to gain the weight in their abdomen, which will exasperate the feeling of bloating, rather than in their hips or thighs. The hormone progesterone diminishes when a woman goes through menopause. When this happens, bloating and water retention occur.
When estrogen levels decline, according to Bodylogic.md, your body searches for new sources of estrogen. Fat cells are estrogen sources so your body converts calories into fat to increase estrogen production. When a woman's body mistakenly converts calories into fat, this results in estrogen overcorrection and insulin resistance and weight gain, and bloating can occur.