Ugh, here we go again — that uncomfortable bloated feeling. It seems to appear once a month, like clockwork. Bloating during ovulation is pretty common. But, that doesn't make it pleasant.
Along with mood swings, changes to your vaginal discharge and craving processed foods — bloating during ovulation is a sign you've reached the luteal phase of your monthly cycle.
Here's how it works and what you can do to manage symptoms.
Let’s define bloating
In a medical sense, bloating refers to an increase in abdominal pressure without an increase in abdominal size. Common descriptions include a feeling of fullness, heaviness and tightness .
It’s estimated that 20-30% of people experience bloating regularly. For people with underlying conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), this can increase to 9% .
Bloating occurs for many reasons — from chewing gum to constipation, overeating, food intolerances and yes, even your menstrual cycle . That last one is why many women experience bloating during ovulation.
Is bloating a sign of ovulation?
Abdominal bloating can be a sign of ovulation, but it’s not the best one we have. Although your ovaries are working hard all month long, the ovulation period is very short. It only lasts for 16 to 32 hours .
As soon as ovulation ends, you enter the luteal phase which is where your body prepares for the possibility of pregnancy. This lovely luteal phase tends to wreak havoc on your gut and your gut function can slow down, which can lead to bloating .
Other symptoms of ovulation
While ovulation bloating appears around the middle of the month, there are some other symptoms that tend to be more accurate. These include breast tenderness, slippery or egg-white vaginal discharge and changes to your basal body temperature.
Another fairly common sign of ovulation is a sharp pain in your abdomen. Most of the time it’s known as ovulation pain, but it may also be called Mittelschmerz pain — a German word that means ‘middle of the month’.
It’s also common for it to be one-sided abdominal pain — originating from the side which releases a mature egg that month .
Around 40% of women experience ovulation pain, which can last from a few minutes up to 48 hours. Symptoms include a feeling of increased abdominal pressure, twinges, sharp pain or cramps in your lower abdomen.
In most cases, this pain is harmless and will go away on its own. If the pain becomes severe or is not subsiding, you’ll want to have a chat with your doctor as it may be a sign of something else .
Kin's Ovulation Test — with a proven accuracy rate of 99%, will help you to take the guesswork out of knowing when to conceive.
Which hormone causes bloating during ovulation?
You can thank your friends' oestrogen and progesterone for bloating during ovulation and afterwards. As we said before, the luteal phase is a tough one for your digestive tract.
At the time of ovulation, both oestrogen levels and luteinizing hormone are peaking in your system. Straight after ovulation, progesterone reaches its peak — which lasts for a few weeks — until your next period .
High levels of all these hormones can cause slow digestion, which in turn causes that uncomfortable bloated feeling .
Other causes of ovulation bloating
If ovulation only lasts for a short time, then why do you feel bloated for so long? The most likely answer is premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Clinically, there are more than 200 symptoms (!) associated with PMS and up to 85% of women experience them . Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Back pain
- Muscle and joint pain
Doctors and researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes PMS. The main theory so far is linked to hormonal changes throughout your menstrual cycle. This theory is supported a little by the fact that being on the contraceptive pill, which balances your hormones, can minimise unwanted symptoms of PMS .
PMS happens during the luteal phase — the time in your menstrual cycle right after ovulation and before your next period. The hormonal changes you experience during this phase are a direct link to feelings of bloating.
The good news is; PMS can be managed on its own. Women who experience mild symptoms can minimise them with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, limiting salt intake, regular exercise and reducing stress .
If you experience severe bloating during ovulation or additional PMS symptoms that interrupt your daily life, then we suggest a visit to your doctor. It's possible other underlying medical conditions are at play.
What is the difference between ovulation and pregnancy bloating?
It’s quite common to feel bloated during pregnancy — especially at the start. But, like with ovulation, bloating is not the best sign we have to detect pregnancy. Better signs of early pregnancy include a missed period or morning sickness .
Like ovulation bloating, pregnancy bloating is caused by high hormone levels. A peak in progesterone slows down your gastrointestinal tract and can lead to constipation.
Another cause of pregnancy bloating is your beautiful, growing baby. They take up room in your body which puts pressure on the other organs and can lead to feeling bloated .
Technically, these 2 types of bloating are caused by the same thing — hormone levels. But, that’s where the similarity ends. Ovulation bloating is a sign that your body is preparing for pregnancy whereas pregnancy bloating is a sign you’re already conceived.
The differences inside your body are huge, but the feeling of bloating is fairly similar. Telling the difference can be tough. The best sign is your period. If you miss a period, you might be pregnant. If your period arrives, then it was most likely ovulation bloating.
Should I worry about bloating during ovulation?
Is ovulation bloating uncomfortable? Yes. Do we wish it didn’t happen? Absolutely. But, is it a cause for concern? Rarely.
In most cases, the feeling of bloating during ovulation and afterwards will pass on its own. If it’s mild enough not to interrupt your daily life, then it’s nothing to worry about.
As with all health problems, severe bloating during ovulation should be investigated. It’s possible you’re struggling with PMDD, which is a seriously strong type of PMS that requires treatment .
If the bloating is frequent, it might be a sign of another condition — like an intolerance to high FODMAP foods or IBS . You know your body best and we hope you’ll listen to it. If something doesn’t feel right, ask for help from your preferred medical professional.
How long does ovulation bloating last?
While ovulation only lasts for 16-32 hours, the luteal phase that is linked to ovulation bloating can last up to 2 weeks . This is the time when PMS symptoms are most likely .
We wouldn’t expect you to feel bloated for the entire luteal phase, but premenstrual bloating on and off during this time is common.
Managing bloating during and after ovulation
We wish we could help you make ovulation bloating go away for good. But the reality is, bloating is a natural response to your menstrual cycle. What we can do is offer some suggestions to help reduce bloating.
Trust us, we know how bad those food cravings get when the PMS kicks in. All you want is salty snacks, chocolate and junk foods. We’re all about balance so we do think you can reach for a couple of junk foods.
But, we also know that a fresh food diet is better for your health. In particular, avoiding salty foods can help reduce feelings of bloating, fluid retention and breast tenderness .
If your abdominal bloating is persistent, it might be worth checking on any food intolerances. Things like high FODMAP foods and lactose intolerance frequently increase bloating . Have a chat with your doctor about diagnosis options.
Our body needs to stay hydrated and healthy at the best of times and this also aids in reducing bloating.
Kin's Electrolyte Powder is packed with ingredients that work together to keep you hydrated, healthy and energised. Electrolytes and Vitamin C are essential for keeping your water levels up and for providing essential nutrients to support your body’s mineral and fluid balance.
Digestive enzyme supplements
Digestive enzymes are naturally occurring in your gut. Their job is to break down fats, proteins and carbs so that your body digests them and absorbs all the important nutrients.
Fairly new research is looking into how low levels of these enzymes can contribute to digestive disturbances including bloating. Using digestive enzyme supplements, we may be able to correct those levels and improve gut health .
Kin’s Daily Digest is a 4-in-1 supplement for a healthy gut and mind, which includes a special blend of 5 digestive enzymes. Taken daily, it is designed to help you restore digestive health and minimise gut symptoms from bloating to constipation, indigestion and gas.
When your gut bacteria are imbalanced, you are more likely to experience bloating. Probiotics and prebiotics work to support your gut by growing more healthy bacteria .
Taking a daily probiotic or a combined supplement, like The Daily Digest, can help to support your overall gut health, which over time, can minimise gut symptoms like bloating.
Magnesium is one of the vital nutrients our body needs to perform at its best. Some people take magnesium supplements to help with sleep quality, muscle spasms and migraines.
Limited research also suggests that magnesium is helpful for bloating. Around 200-400mg of magnesium a day — through both food and supplements — has been found to help minimise bloating during ovulation .
If you’ve seen the latest research on gut health, you’ll know that our brain and our gut are in constant communication. Researchers call this the brain-gut-axis.
This means that they pass information to each other back and forth. So, when your brain is feeling stressed, your gut can suffer.
On the flip side, having a healthy gut can help protect your brain from feelings of stress . Managing your stress levels through relaxation techniques like meditation and exercise can all help you minimise your gut symptoms, such as bloating.
Kin's Omega-3 DHA is specially formulated to maintain cardiovascular health and healthy cholesterol while supporting cognitive function and mental well-being.
Studies have found that regular exercise can help minimise symptoms of PMS, including bloating during ovulation .
In one study, 65 female students did a program of 8 weeks of aerobic exercise to see how it affected their PMS symptoms. Results showed that bloating was significantly decreased with regular exercise .
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