Ever wonder why you feel so gassy and bloated before a period? The premenstrual phase of your cycle can be accompanied by a whole raft of unpleasant symptoms like feeling gassy. But what does Aunt Flo have against your gut? Let’s look at the links between periods and problems like flatulence – plus you can do about it.
Is bloating and gas before periods normal?
Flatulence (in other words, fart) happens when your gas builds up in the intestines and escapes through the anus. This is a normal part of the digestive process, and happens as a result of swallowing air and the breakdown of foods in your intestines. Although many people tend to think that flatulence is a sign of too much gas in your digestive system, this is actually rare.
What causes gas before periods?
Before and during a period, changes in the levels of the hormone progesterone can lead to more gas building up in your digestive system. Progesterone levels rise during the premenstrual phase of your cycle, after your body releases an egg cell at ovulation. This gets your body ready to support a hypothetical pregnancy – just in case that egg cell happens to get fertilized.
Part of the way your body gets ready to support a pregnancy is to slow digestion. Progesterone does this by relaxing the muscular walls of the gastrointestinal tract, keeping food in your digestive system for longer allowing your body to extract more nutrients and water from the food you eat. The side effect of this that digestive gas tends to build up, and you may experience constipation.
Why is gas before periods so bad?
It’s an open secret among girls that gas before and during a menstrual period tends to be particularly evil-smelling. There’s a hormonal cause for this, as well.
The hormonal fluctuations over the second half of the menstrual cycle can affect the balance of bacteria in your gut. Combined with a slowdown of digestion, this means your food gets fermented differently – resulting in particularly nasty farts.
Prevention of gas before periods
There’s not much you can do about the normal hormone fluctuations of the menstrual cycle, but there are steps you can take to prevent gas when you’re coming up to a period.
- Stick to easily digestible foods,
- Avoid large greasy meals, carbonated beverages and strong-smelling ingredients like onion and garlic
- Try activated charcoal
- Try probiotic foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi
- Get regular moderate exercise to promote good blood flow through your abdomen
Gas before periods won’t harm you
If you feel gassy before your period arrives, you’re definitely not alone. It’s just one of the ways your body responds to the changing hormone balance of the menstrual cycle. It might be a little unpleasant, but try not to let it worry you too much. Supporting a healthy balance of gut bacteria and eating easily digestible foods could reduce gas before periods and help you feel better.