Bloating and PCOS

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can often go under-detected in women as they think their symptoms such as cramping, irregular periods, chin acne and excessive facial or body hair are normal. These symptoms can affect women at a different level, for some they can continue with their daily life as normal whilst for others, it can cause deliberating symptoms. 

One of the common symptoms reported in PCOS is bloating. 

PCOS Bloating

Bloating is completely normal, it is the result of our gut bacteria fermenting (eating) the fibre we eat and producing gas, resulting in bloating. However, those with PCOS can experience this bloating to a greater extent. This bloating is thought to be caused by changes in the gut microbiome.

Those with PCOS show an unbalance in their gut microbiome, meaning they have a higher level of pathogenic bacteria than beneficial bacteria. These changes in their gut microbiome may affect the way they digest food and lead to more gas production. 

How to manage bloating 

One of the ways you can manage this bloating is by keeping a food and symptom diary. This will help you identify foods which might be aggravating the bloating. Try removing/limiting them from the diet and see if your symptoms. Ensure not to cut large groups of food out as this could lead to nutrient deficiencies. 

Gentle movement like yoga, stretching or going for a walk can help relax your muscles and ease bloating. 

Try adding digestive enzymes like bromelain and papain after a big meal or when you’ve eaten something that may trigger your bloating. This can help break down foods and release nutrients. They can be found naturally in things like papaya, pineapple and ginger. Herbs and spices like ginger, camomile, mint and lido rice also have natural stomach soothing properties which can work to ease bloating. 

Improving the diversity of the gut microbiome can also help ease symptoms. Focus on high fibrous, wholegrain carbohydrates like oats, quinoa and lentils. Add some friendly bacteria into your diet either through fermented foods like live yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso and kombucha. Or they can be consumed through supplements. 

Wearing tight clothing can make the feelings of bloating worse, this can also lead to you feeling uncomfortable and stressed, making symptoms worse. When you are feeling bloating, try and avoid high waisted tight clothing and opt for something loose that will allow your stomach to relax. 

Myo-inositol is a supplement that people with PCOS may take to help regulate their cycles. Even though no formal studies have been conducted, anecdotal evidence has suggested that it may also help improve symptoms of bloating by regulating  hormones. 

If you think you have PCOS or are worried about your symptoms, seek advice from your GP. 

Further reading

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