Gang, forgive us, but we need to talk… Bowels. Sort of. No, we haven’t lost our collective marbles, honest. Do you ever feel a bit bloated before your period or in the second half of your cycle? Well, there’s a reason for that. And you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s hormonal. Welcome to Progesterone and bloating.
What does Progesterone have to do with bloating?
As regular Hormonas will know, Progesterone is one of the female sex hormones. And it’s most famous for its role in the menstrual cycle and coordinating your periods.
Progesterone, though, can also affect other parts of your body. And that’s because it slows the movement of smooth muscles. Smooth muscles are the muscles in your internal organs over which you have no control. Think heartbeat, digestion, and the like.
As your Progesterone levels rise during the luteal phase of your cycle, it can slow down the movement of your gut. And that in turn can lead to feelings of reflux, bloating, constipation, and other gross digestive symptoms.
What if I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, AKA IBS?
IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, affects up to 15% of the population. Not only it is more common in women than men, women are twice as likely to experience it. And perhaps unsurprisingly, symptoms include cramps, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal pain.
And here’s why it’s not-so-surprising that IBS affects more women than men. There’s evidence that the female sex hormones, Estrogen and Progesterone, play a role in the condition. Which might explain why you’re more likely to experience bloating, constipation, or diarrhea during the Luteal phase of your cycle.
Is increased Progesterone normal?
Absolutely. During the second half of your menstrual cycle, your Progesterone level should start to climb. One of its jobs is making sure your uterus is ready should a fertilized egg appear, and it needs higher levels for that. On the flip side, if it doesn’t ebb and flow with your cycle, then you might have trouble with irregular periods or other symptoms.
What can I do about gas and bloating caused by increased Progesterone?
Fear not, gang, there’s plenty you can do to help combat Progesterone-related bloating and such. First and foremost, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. That’s super important if you struggle with constipation before your period.
Next up: Fiber, and lots of it. Luckily, there’s a literal ton of conveniently delicious foodstuff packed with it. Get yourself some wholewheat cereal, porridge, wholemeal bread, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and, of course, vegetables.
Then, make sure you’re tracking your symptoms. The Hormona app is perfect for this, and it’ll help you see any patterns or clusters. But, as always, if your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, please tell someone. You don’t need to suffer, and you certainly don’t need to do any of it alone.