How Can PCOS Cause Bloating? Insights and Explanations

June 6, 2024
Minute Read

This article will provide readers with detailed insights and explanations on how PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) can cause bloating, including the underlying mechanisms, associated symptoms, and effective management strategies.


PCOS is a hormonal disorder, one that cannot be cured but has to be effectively managed. This lifelong condition can cause a series of health issues, particularly infertility and the risk of ovarian cysts, high levels of androgen, and irregular periods related to ovarian health issues. But can PCOS cause bloating?

This article will review PCOS and stomach bloating to determine if there is a relationship between the two and, if so, what insights can be used to manage this particular symptom.

What is PCOS? 

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition where hormones that are supposed to happen during your reproductive phases simply don't. Sometimes, people don't get periods at all, and other times, they have periods that last too long. It's not uncommon for people with polycystic ovary syndrome to struggle with ovarian cysts and too much androgen.

Can PCOS Cause Bloating? 

The primary symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome are irregular periods, excessive androgen, and polycystic ovaries that become enlarged. But what about PCOS symptoms bloating? Can PCOS bloating be another symptom?


The connection between PCOS and bloating

One of the lesser-known symptoms associated with PCOS is PCOS bloating. PCOS and bloating happen because of two things:

  1. Your hormones
  2. Medication for PCOS

How hormonal imbalances in PCOS lead to bloating

Let's look at hormones first. PCOS symptoms of bloating can be a direct cause of hormonal changes that affect your gut health and fluid retention.

A common sign of polycystic ovary syndrome is a lack of ovulation. when your body doesn't ovulate you don't produce enough progesterone. This is a natural diuretic which means it helps your body get rid of unnecessary water. When ovulation doesn't happen, that means you end up with water retention. This water retention can cause PCOS and stomach bloating symptoms.

Tangentially irregular periods are another key symptom of the hormonal imbalances caused by polycystic ovary syndrome. When your body has irregular periods, it leads to a buildup of estrogen. Many women who are diagnosed with PCOS have high estrogen levels, and the high estrogen also increases fluid retention, which makes it more likely that you will have weight gain around the belly and gas and bloating.

The role of inflammation in PCOS and bloating

Women who have PCOS usually have imbalanced gut health. This means that the intestinal wall is more permeable and digestion doesn't happen as quickly or effectively as it should. This means that your gut doesn't empty and process effluence as quickly so you have a buildup of material that can cause constipation and bloating.

Without the right healthy gut flora and bile acids in your digestive tract, your metabolism will change with time, and this can lead to inflammation and imbalances in your digestive tract, which exacerbate the issue of constipation and bloating.

Mechanisms Behind PCOS Bloating

Now, let's look at the scientific mechanisms behind PCOS bloating. 

Digestive system impact

The digestive system plays an important role in controlling gas and bloating. When there's too much water retention it can lead to a buildup of gas and bloating and inhibit your body's metabolism and digestion. This directly influences the amount of inflammation you struggle with. Moreover, when there is an imbalance in your gut microbiome it can cause your gastric system to empty slower than it should which results in constipation, bloating, and gas.

Fluid retention and weight fluctuations

As mentioned, hormonal imbalances, as well as problems with digestion and gut health, can contribute significantly to fluid retention. Fluid retention means that you are more likely to struggle with significant weight gain, especially around the belly, where the majority of that fluid retention will accumulate.

These weight fluctuations can cause problems with PCOS and stomach bloating.

Diet and lifestyle factors contributing to bloating

There are of course diet and lifestyle factors that also contribute to PCOS and bloating. hormonal changes can directly influence your gut health which can lead to inflammation and problems with your digestive tract. It's not uncommon for people with polycystic ovary syndrome to have problems with insulin regulation and that contributes significantly to bloating as well.

Recognizing PCOS-Related Bloating

PCOS-related bloating presents with symptoms like:

  • Tightness or fullness in your abdomen
  • Visible swelling
  • Frequent gas
  • The feeling of a full stomach even if you haven't recently eaten

Managing PCOS and Bloating

So, if you are experiencing these symptoms, what can you do to manage them?

Dietary modifications

The first way is with dietary modifications. Increasing your fiber intake can help with constipation and bloating. This should come from Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Tangentially, you want to increase your fluid intake. 

This might seem contradictory because of the fluid retention and inflammation that can happen as a symptom of bloating but increased fluid helps your body to move the fiber you eat into your bowels in such a way that it can expedite the removal of affluence and subsequent bloating.

You'll also want to avoid foods that are high in sugar or fat as both of these can impact your insulin levels and increase your bloating.

Lifestyle changes

In terms of lifestyle changes, focus on increasing your exercise. In particular, consider a 10-minute walk after each meal to help reduce bloating. Regular exercise should also be used to help you manage your weight and decrease inflammation.

Medical treatments

There are several medications that can be prescribed to help you manage your symptoms, including medication specifically for bloating, like simethicone. 

But there are other medical treatments that you can consider particularly anti-inflammatory supplements, acupuncture, and hormonal tests and gut tests that can help you identify the right types of foods to eat and avoid and the right types of hormonal therapy to consider as a management strategy.

GI tests can help you get personalized plans to balance your microbiome, which is particularly important for women with PCOS whose microbiome is usually unbalanced. With integrative gut treatments, peptides can be used to help restore the gut lining, another issue commonly associated with PCOS bloating. 

Hormonal tests can provide biomarker imbalance information. This information can help inform treatments like supplements, peptides, and bio identical replacement therapy solutions. 

When to Seek Professional Help

There are times when the efforts you are using to change your diet or lifestyle might not be working well. In this situation, it might be time to consult a professional about your PCOS bloating.

When you consult with your healthcare provider or a similar healthcare professional, you have the opportunity to review alternative treatments to help you monitor and manage your symptoms, including bloating. This can include taking diagnostic tests and getting personalized recommendations for diet, hormonal treatments, and other alternative medicines.

Diagnostic tests for PCOS and related symptoms

Diagnostic tests can help confirm your level of hormones. With these types of tests you can get hormonal panels on a regular basis to verify the efficacy of certain management strategies you are employing like dietary modifications or medical treatments. This can go a long way toward helping you make adjustments long-term to manage PCOS and bloating.

Summing up

Can PCOS cause bloating? Yes. While this is not one of the primary symptoms that is talked about, it's something that many women struggle with. Polycystic ovary syndrome can cause bloating as a direct result of hormonal balances or imbalances, gut health, digestion, and medication for treatment. Thankfully, there are things you can do to modify your lifestyle and your diet in order to manage bloating symptoms, and you can always reach out to a professional for additional help.

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