PCOS Bloating: Why It Happens and What To Do About It

by Tallene Posted May 20, 2024

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal disorder that affects lots of systems in the body. Yes, PCOS can impact more than just the reproductive system! This is why the symptoms of PCOS are so vast and can encompass the whole body. Things like irregular periods, excess facial hair growth, acne, fatigue, mood swings, infertility, weight gain, sleep issues, and digestive problems are all very common symptoms in people with PCOS. 

Today, I am going to focus on that last one! Digestive issues include food sensitivities, poor nutrient absorption, cramping, bathroom struggles, and BLOATING. Bloating is so common with PCOS, that it even has a name. They call it “PCOS belly” and this describes how a Cyster’s belly is prominent and disproportionately large to the rest of her body. Many times this type of bloating negatively affects our confidence, and it can feel extremely uncomfortable, too! 

Luckily, there are lots of ways to reduce bloating, relieve digestive issues, and reverse your symptoms naturally. So let’s dive into this!

pcos bloating why it happens and what to do about it

PCOS Bloating: Why It Happens and What To Do About It

First of all, what is bloating? Bloating is when your stomach feels full and tight because of excess gas and other digestive issues. Many women experience this pressure during certain parts of their menstrual cycle, but women with PCOS often feel it all the time! It can get extremely uncomfortable and can seriously affect our quality of life. 

how does pcos cause bloating

How Does PCOS Cause Bloating?

There are quite a few ways PCOS can contribute to bloating. PCOS is primarily a hormone condition, and those fluctuations in hormones trigger inflammation and disrupt the digestive process by altering the balance of gut flora and bile acids in your system. Plus, low progesterone can cause fluid retention, which can lead to bloating as well! 

But, that’s not tall. Women with PCOS are more prone to digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), GERD, and chronic constipation. And, if you’re on any common PCOS prescriptions like metformin, clomiphene, or hormonal birth control, that could cause bloating, too. It all plays a role! 

how to get rid of pcos bloating

How To Get Rid of PCOS Bloating

Eat more fiber. 

One of the essential elements of managing PCOS effectively is a balanced diet! And including fiber is a MUST not just for our well-being but for mending our bloating issues. It helps by improving insulin sensitivity, which can worsen hormonal imbalances and inflammation. Additionally, fiber helps promote regular bowel movements and gut health.  

High-fiber foods include legumes, quinoa, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds like chia seeds, fruits, and cruciferous vegetables! (Which include asparagus, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.) Whole grains are also a great source of fiber, just be sure that they’re gluten-free. You can find LOTS of high-fiber meals and snacks on The Cysterhood app! Give it a download for all my favorite PCOS-friendly recipes. 

Cut inflammatory foods. 

Inflammation is a big part of bloating and poor gut health. It can actually contribute to a lot of PCOS issues and perpetuate a cycle of hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance, too. I recommend trying to reduce inflammatory foods like dairy products, gluten, fried foods, processed snacks, and alcohol for 30 days (then reintroducing these back afterward to see how much you can tolerate). The less chronic inflammation in our bodies, the better our gut health can be!  

Manage blood sugar levels. 

Insulin resistance is when your body becomes less reactive to glucose. So, instead of converting it to energy, your cells absorb the sugar as fat and raise your insulin levels. This can trigger inflammation and cause hormone imbalances like hyperandrogenism! Knowing your Carb Tolerance Range and focusing on a healthy, balanced PCOS diet to manage your blood sugar levels, reduce bloating, and find lots more symptom relief! 

Stay hydrated. 

Our bodies can’t carry out its thousands of daily chemical reactions and processes optimally without water! We NEED to stay hydrated to feel our best. When we’re dehydrated, our body retains fluid which can cause constipation. However, when we’re hydrated, it helps everything get flushed out to reduce bloating!

Exercise regularly. 

Regular exercise lowers insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, and inflammation—the three things that contribute the most to PCOS symptoms like boating! Doing slow-weighted workouts can help deflate that bloat and encourage healthy digestion. Just make sure you keep the workouts low-impact, such as lifting weights over high-intensity cardio. Raising your heart rate for long periods of time and pumping your body full of adrenaline (like in a 60 minute cardio kickboxing class) can sometimes worsen symptoms! You can find PCOS-friendly workouts on The Cysterhood app as well! 

Take probiotics and curcumin. 

Probiotics are supplements that help with the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut microbiome. When your gut bacteria is balanced, you’ll likely find relief from most of your GI issues including bloating! 

Another natural supplement that’s super helpful for bloating is curcumin aka turmeric! It has anti-inflammatory health benefits that can help improve your gut health and reduce bloating. Plus, curcumin has plenty of other PCOS benefits too! Just make sure you get high-quality vitamins like my PCOS-friendly supplement line Ovafit

Trade soda for herbal tea or kombucha. 

Carbonation and sugar can both lead to significant bloat. So, if you’re drinking a few sodas every day, this most likely won’t help you reduce bloating. Swap your soda for herbal tea like peppermint tea or chamomile. They both have ingredients that relax the muscles in the digestive tract to relieve gas and bloating. Ginger is also a good choice because it’s anti-inflammatory. If you’re interested in grabbing some tea, try this PCOS relief tea blend!

If you like kombucha, that’s another good alternative for a healthy gut! It’s a fermented drink that naturally contains probiotics, which we’ve already discussed are great for bloating relief! Here are other PCOS benefits of kombucha as well! I like to pour about half a cup and put in a bunch of ice, this makes it super refreshing and low sugar since I’m drinking less than I would if I had the whole bottle.

Hormone Balancing Tea

Strive for quality sleep. 

Sleep is essential for proper hormone balance. Ensuring you get 8 hours of good sleep can help you see big improvements in all your PCOS symptoms, including digestive problems and bloating

Of course, good sleep isn’t always a breeze with PCOS since Cysters are much more likely to experience sleep disorders. Sleep apnea and insomnia are very common! But, with strategies in the post called How to Get Better Sleep with PCOS, we hope we can help you figure out a nightly routine that works for you. 

There are lots of ways to relieve bloating with PCOS! 

There is no reason you should live with any chronic symptoms that reduce your quality of life. Bloating combined with all the other symptoms of PCOS can be really difficult to deal with day after day. However, you can find natural healing from your PCOS and live symptom-free!

Find out more on the blog, on my podcast, and on The Cysterhood app. We can do this together!

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