First things first – having a flat stomach may be impossible for you if you have a uterus. This is because the uterus tilts forward slightly in most people. No matter how much you work out or how carefully you eat – your uterus may still make a bit of a bump on your abdomen. Embrace this! Occasionally, throughout fashion history, this has been adored and even enhanced! Let’s work on being more accepting of our own bodies and honouring everyone’s natural shapes.
Flat Stomachs: Achievable Goal?
Now, what this blog is actually about is stomach bloating. Stomach bloating is (typically) a short-term/occasional occurrence that anyone can experience. Eating certain foods can make your stomach bloated temporarily. Sometimes people experience stomach bloating as a side effect of their period. You can keep track of when you bloat to help you figure out if it’s connected to what you eat, your activity level, or your menstrual cycle.
Period bloating is a fairly common occurrence that can affect any gender and any age. But what makes it something that people with periods notice is that it can become a regular sign that your period is about to start, has started, or at some other point in your cycle. Hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle can affect eating habits (think: cravings) and digestion (think: constipation), which can lead to stomach bloating.
Period Bloating: Causes
Bloating before your period may be due to indulging in some cravings. These could be cravings for unhealthy foods (think: fast food/greasy food), too many of one kind of food (think: carbs), or eating something you know you’re sensitive to (think: gluten or lactose). Make sure you’re sticking to a healthy, balanced diet all cycle-round!
Bloating during your period could be caused by hormonal fluctuations. In previous articles, we’ve talked about how prostaglandins are released to help the uterus contract and expel blood. Sometimes, our body makes too many prostaglandins and they can affect our digestion, leading to constipation or diarrhea. Changes to regular digestion can lead to stomach bloating.
Habit-wise, consider if you’re less active during your period. Being less active affects digestion too. This means you could have multiple things going on that are slowing down or interrupting your normal digestion which can lead to stomach bloating.
Ok, so we’ve talked about what can cause your stomach to bloat around your period, but how long does it last and what can we do about it?
Stomach bloating could last a few hours (think: gas) or a few days (think: slowed digestion). If stomach bloating is severe, meaning painful or uncomfortable enough to stop you from doing normal activities, then you should seek professional help. This might help you discover if you have a food intolerance or something else going on that needs medical care. Bloating connected with constipation that lasts for more than 3 days also needs professional medical help. If you aren’t able to poop, your intestines could get too full which can lead to serious medical problems.
How long and how bad?
The best and easiest thing to do to help get rid of bloating is to drink more water! Drinking extra water will help your body digest food more efficiently and comfortably. The next thing to do to prevent or get rid of bloating is to stay (or get) active! When you’re active, you’re engaging abdominal muscles that help your digestive tract to push food through. You’re also encouraging good blood flow which helps your digestive tract too. Healthy eating, staying well hydrated, and keeping active will help hormone cycles to remain balanced (only to a degree, but still helpful!).
Drink Water and Stay Active
While we aren’t aiming for a totally flat stomach, we can aim to have minimal to no bloating. Again, having a little bump is probably just your uterus in a healthy position (though some people have a uterus that tilts back, and this can also be a healthy position). We also need a layer of fat on our abdomen to keep all of our organs warm and protected. Down with the bloat and up with embracing our natural, healthy shapes!
“No Bloat”, not “Totally Flat”
Hill, M. (2019). Period Power. Green Tree.
Beat the bloat – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Written by Morgan Ludington
May 16th, 2021
Edited by Lilypads