Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women in their reproductive years (usually 15-49 years). PCOS is associated with an imbalance in the level of androgens (male hormones), irregular periods and the presence of up to 12 immature follicles in one or both ovaries.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS include obesity, adult acne, amenorrhea (cessation of periods), PCOS-linked excessive hair growth, PCOS-linked sleep apnea and infertility (read more: Can I still get pregnant if I have PCOS?). Among people living with PCOS, another consistent complaint is bloating.

Bloating is a symptom that is associated with several other health conditions like hypothyroidism and pregnancy. Women can experience bloating even during menses. There is no direct treatment for bloating yet. However, it can be managed by addressing the underlying cause of bloating. Read on to know more:

  1. What causes bloating in PCOS?
  2. How to get rid of bloating with PCOS
Doctors for PCOS and Bloating

Finding the underlying cause is important for the management of this symptom. Here are some of the more common causes for bloating in PCOS:

  • Hormonal imbalance: Normally, healthy follicles mature and produce an egg during ovulation. In PCOS, many follicles do not mature and collect inside the ovary (or both ovaries). This can lead to a hormonal imbalance. For example, levels of estrogen increase and there is a decrease in progesterone in the body. This leads to the retention of fluid in the abdominal area, which leads to bloating or a feeling of fullness.
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation: Some women with PCOS have difficulty conceiving. If these patients opt for in vitro fertilization, they may be prescribed fertility drugs or treatments to stimulate the ovary to release mature eggs. Sometimes, though, these drugs can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which in turn can manifest in the form of abdominal pain and bloating.
  • Food intolerance: Studies have not been able to prove or disprove the link between PCOS and food allergies. However, intolerance to foods like milk and other dairy products (lactose intolerance), wheat (Celiac disease) and gluten intolerance do produce symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain and skin reactions - they may worsen bloating in people with PCOS as well as an allergy to these foods.
  • Unhealthy gut flora: Good bacteria play an important role in the regulation and maintenance of our gut health. If the population of good bacteria decreases due to overeating or unhealthy food habits and harmful bacterial population increases, it might lead to bloating. A woman with PCOS and unhealthy food habits may experience bloating more often.

Once you pinpoint the cause, it can be relatively easy to manage the bloating associated with PCOS. Eating a healthy PCOS diet and doing exercises for PCOS can go a long way to address this symptom as well as others. Here are some more tried and tested remedies for PCOS linked bloating: 

  • Balancing the hormones: There are no specific treatment guidelines for PCOS. Women are often prescribed birth control pills to balance the hormones. In addition to this, lifestyle changes and yoga to achieve hormonal balance can help to an extent.
  • Exercise: Exercising regularly helps to maintain a healthy weight - reducing weight has been shown to reduce symptoms of PCOS significantly.
  • Diet: A low FODMAPS diet helps in reducing symptoms like bloating. Try to avoid easily fermentable foods like dairy, fructose, fructans. You can also ask your doctor for a PCOS diet chart to reduce bloating.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics consist of live bacterial spores like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. They help in improving and maintaining gut health. Adding probiotics in the diet regime helps to ensure better digestion and absorption of nutrients. It can also reduce the bloating associated with PCOS.

These remedies address bloating as well as bloating as a result of PCOS specifically. Though not instantaneous, they should provide some relief over time. If, however, the bloating persists, you should visit a doctor for a thorough check-up.

Dr. Vrinda Khemani

Dr. Vrinda Khemani

Obstetrics & Gynaecology
6 Years of Experience

Dr Megha Apsingekar

Dr Megha Apsingekar

Obstetrics & Gynaecology
4 Years of Experience

Dr. Dyuti Navadia

Dr. Dyuti Navadia

Obstetrics & Gynaecology
1 Years of Experience

Dr. Sheetal Aggarwal

Dr. Sheetal Aggarwal

Obstetrics & Gynaecology
15 Years of Experience

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