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Bloating is a term used to describe a specific set of symptoms that occur in the abdominal cavity. Most people who have experienced bloating describe the sensation as a feeling of fullness or tightness within the abdominal area that can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. Mild bloating is often the result of lifestyle factors, such as a stress and diet, but when the condition is chronic, it could be caused by an underlying hormonal imbalance. This is why many women experience bloating as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Women may also experience more severe bloating during perimenopause and menopause as a result of water retention, intestinal gas, decreased bile production or a combination of the three.
The hormones progesterone and estrogen play a significant role in fluid retention. When estrogen levels are elevated, women tend to retain more water than usual. This is why bloating is common in the days leading up to a woman's menstrual cycle - more estrogen means more water retention. During menopause, estrogen levels erratically fluctuate and bloating becomes more chronic. Also, progesterone is a natural diuretic, so when progesterone levels are below where they should be, women may also experience bloating.
While having too much estrogen can lead to bloating, having too little estrogen can also contribute to abdominal discomfort. That's because estrogen also has an effect on the production of bile - when estrogen levels are low, bile production decreases. Bile is fluid produced by the liver that aids in digestion. Bile helps to emulsify fats from the foods we eat and aids in cholesterol synthesis. It also acts a lubricant for our small intestines. Without proper lubrication, stool can accumulate within the small intestines and cause bloating, as well as constipation.
Fortunately, there's a lot that can be done to prevent bloating. The first approach would be to take a good look at your diet and try cutting out foods that are known to cause gas and bloating. Nutritional testing may also be necessary to pinpoint any sensitivities, intolerances or underlying conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Food allergies and sensitivities have been known to cause a host of symptoms, including gas, indigestion, constipation and, of course, bloating. For some, eliminating dairy products, sodium, and "trigger foods" such as beans and onions might also be a good idea. Additionally, stress reduction and regular exercise have been found to have a positive impact on our digestive health.
Sometimes lifestyle changes aren't enough. If in fact the bloating is being caused by fluctuating hormone levels, then additional intervention may be required to alleviate symptoms. In addition to nutritional support, the highly trained bioidentical hormone doctors at BodyLogicMD specialize in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and have helped countless women just like you overcome symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Whether your estrogen levels are too high and too low, a hormone specialist can help you restore balance naturally with bioidentical hormones.
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