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Body

menopause and hard bloated stomach

By | Fact Checked By Andrea Donsky |

One of the more uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause and menopause is a hard bloated stomach. Here are some of the reasons why you may experience this symptom and what you can do about it.

What is a hard bloated stomach?

Who among us hasn’t occasionally experienced a bloated stomach? Bloating is the uncomfortable pressure in the abdomen that is caused by excessive fluid or air in the gastrointestinal tract. In some cases, bloating involves swelling of the stomach to the point that it is hard to the touch and even results in temporary weight gain.

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Bloating can be caused by a variety of factors, including but not limited to

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  • Sluggish digestion
  • Indigestion
  • Irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Food intolerances
  • Changes in your diet
  • Stress
  • Swallowed air from chewing gum or other causes
  • Gastroparesis, a disorder that affects how the stomach empties. When the stomach muscles stop working, any food in the digestive tract will move very slowly through the stomach and intestines.

How is a hard bloated stomach associated with menopause?

During perimenopause and menopause, the fluctuations in hormone levels can result in water retention, which can then cause bloating. Similarly, retention of gas can cause the stomach to swell and harden.

This transitional stage of life also can involve gastrointestinal changes, which also may lead to a hard bloated stomach. Stress associated with menopause can lead to uncomfortable bloating as well.

How can you manage a hard bloated stomach in menopause naturally?

If you and your doctor have ruled out anything serious behind your hard bloated stomach, there are a number of natural remedies that can be effective. First let’s look at immediate solutions.

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  • Peppermint oil and peppermint tea are two forms of this gas-reducing herb. Taking the oil capsules can provide more immediate relief, as it helps to relax the intestinal muscles. Drinking peppermint tea also is beneficial.
  • Physical activity stimulates the intestinal tract, which can help to release gas and stool.
  • Yoga poses can help reposition muscles in the abdominal area to encourage gas release. Some effective poses include Happy Baby and Child’s Pose.
  • Heat applied to the abdomen in the form of a heating pad, hot water bottle, or by sitting in a sauna may help you relax and reduce stress that can contribute to bloating.
  • Do-it-yourself abdominal massage may stimulate your bowels to move and release gas. Try this massage or have a partner do it for you.
  • Place your hands just above the right hip bone. Using light pressure, rub in a circular motion up toward the right side of your ribs. Rub straight across your upper belly toward the left side of your ribs. Keep rubbing while moving toward the left hip bone. Repeat the entire sequence as needed.

The following lifestyle changes are long-term remedies to relieve bloating.

  • Avoid carbonated beverages and substitute water, tea, or diluted fruit juice.
  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners and chewing gum, as both can cause bloating.
  • Increase dietary fiber, but do it very gradually. If you suddenly increase fiber intake by more than a few grams over several days, your bloating and gas can get worse. Your goal should be around 25 to 30 grams daily.
  • Eat more consciously. This means eat smaller amounts at regular intervals, chew your food until it is liquid, never overeat, and don’t use a straw.
  • Reduce your salt intake. Too much sodium can cause you to retain fluids.
  • Take probiotics. These beneficial bacteria help balance the microorganisms in your intestinal tract, which I turn reduces bloating and gas. Use probiotic supplements, foods containing probiotics, or both.

when to see your doctor

A hard bloated stomach that lasts for more than a few days should be examined by a doctor. You also should consult a physician if you are experiencing pain, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms causing you concern.

bottom line

Most women experience occasional bloating and gas, and sometimes that includes a hard bloated stomach. Both immediate natural remedies and some lifestyle changes can alleviate this symptom in most cases.

  • Cash BD et al. A novel delivery system of peppermint oil is an effective therapy for irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 2016 Feb; 61(2):560-71
  • Pietrangelo A. Bloating, pain, and gas: when to see a doctor. Healthline 2020 Jul 2
Andrea is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) & Menopause Expert. Andrea is in menopause & has been researching for the last 5 years science-based ingredients and methods to help women manage their symptoms. She’s the Founder of NaturallySavvy.com—a multiple award-winning website. Andrea co-authored the book “Unjunk Your Junk Food” published by Simon and Schuster, as well as “Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart,” and “Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.” Andrea co-hosts the Morphus for Menopause podcast and appears as a Healthy Living Expert on TV across North America. Andrea has more than 20 years of experience in the health & wellness space and is a multiple award-winning Influencer.