We’ve all experienced episodes of flatulence, also known as passing gas or farting. In fact, people pass gas an average of 5 to 15 times a day. During perimenopause and menopause, however, you may notice an increase in flatulence. Don’t panic; you can handle this!
What is flatulence?
Flatulence is a natural function of the digestive process and involves the release of gas out of the anus. Although it can be embarrassing, it can usually be managed by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Flatulence can occur for various reasons. When you eat or drink, for example, you typically swallow a small amount of air. As the air accumulates in your digestive system, gases can build. Burping and farting are methods the body uses to eliminate the gas. Both can provide relief from feelings of bloating. Flatulence usually is odorless unless it contains sulfur or other gases.
You also may swallow air if you chew gum, smoke, have ill-fitting dentures, don’t chew your food thoroughly, or suck on hard candies. These activities can cause you to swallow excessive air and thus result in more flatulence.
Certain foods are more likely to cause flatulence than others, such as those with carbohydrates that aren’t absorbed, including beans, cruciferous vegetables, onions, raisins, apples, and pulses. Foods containing fructose or sorbitol also can cause farting.
Health conditions that can cause flatulence include constipation, lactose intolerance gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, giardiasis, and indigestion. If you use antifungal medicines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen), statins, or some laxatives, you can experience excessive gas as well.
How is flatulence associated with menopause?
Up to 60 percent of women report experiencing more gas during menopause. Changes in digestion are caused by fluctuating estrogen levels. As levels of the hormone change, it’s common to experience increased episodes of flatulence and bloating.
Menopausal women also have changing levels of bile, which is secreted by the liver and aids in digestion. Fluctuating bile levels can also affect the amount of gas or flatulence produced in the digestive system.
How to treat flatulence naturally?
Adopting a few lifestyle changes can effectively manage flatulence. Here are some tips.
- Chew food thoroughly and eat slowly. Eating fast causes individuals to take in more air, while chewing food until its liquid-like aids digestion.
- Using straws, drinking from bottles, and chewing gum all contribute to swallowing air. It is best to drink directly from a glass and to also avoid chewing gum that contains aspartame or other artificial sweeteners, which may cause gas.
- Take a drop or two of clove oil in water after eating. It can reduce gas and boost digestive enzyme activity.
- Enjoy a variety of teas that may help with digestion and reduce gas. They include anise, chamomile, ginger, and peppermint.
- Chewing on fennel seeds is an old remedy that really works, but avoid it if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- Stir one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into 6 ounces of water and drink it before meals. This can reduce gas and flatulence. Be sure to rinse your mouth with water after taking the vinegar to avoid enamel erosion.
- Avoid foods that can cause an accumulation of gas and thus flatulence. These include carbonated beverages, cruciferous vegetables, fiber drinks and supplements, dairy products, fried foods, onions, garlic, foods high in fat, beans, prunes, and spicy foods.
- Gentle exercise, such as yoga, stretching, and walking can help relieve gas and flatulence.
- Take enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules to help relieve flatulence, bloating, and constipation.
When to see a doctor
If you experience flatulence that affects your daily activities, that gets worse, or that is accompanied by other symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea (as well as alternating of these symptoms), stomach pain, or indigestion, consult your healthcare provider. You may be tested for the possibility of irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.