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What Are the Causes of Bloating in Women?

Bloating is often described as a feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdomen that results in a physical swelling or distention of the abdomen. Occasional bloating in women is normal and usually occurs as a result of improper digestion of gas-forming foods or as a regular symptom of the reproductive cycle. Persistent bloating can indicate an underlying chronic digestive disorder or abnormal growth.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome, more commonly referred to as PMS, is the term for a group of mental and physical symptoms that occur approximately 5 to 11 days before the beginning of a woman’s menstrual cycle, according to Medline Plus 1. Other possible symptoms include:

  • confusion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue
  • sadness
  • tension
  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • decreased sex drive
  • change in sleeping patterns

PMS can be controlled with lifestyle changes such as drinking plenty of fluids, taking vitamins, low-salt diet, increased exercise and a regular sleeping habit. Aspirin, pain relievers and regular use of birth control pills may be useful in relieving some symptoms as well.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that is classified by its symptoms, which include:

  • abdominal bloating
  • cramping
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • constipation

Although irritable bowel syndrome causes extreme discomfort, it does not cause any damage to the intestinal tract, as with some inflammatory bowel diseases. Irritable bowel syndrome is believed to occur as a result of either an increase or decrease in strength and frequency of intestinal contractions. There is a medication that is specifically used for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, but most cases require additional medications to treat individual symptoms as well.

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that grow on the surface or inside of the ovaries 2. Ovarian cysts develop as a result of hormonal imbalances in the body involving the luteinizing hormone, which is responsible for signaling the ovary to release an egg 2. Most women have small cysts on their ovaries that do not cause any symptoms. If symptoms are manageable, ovarian cysts are not treated but rather monitored for growth 2. If the cysts grow, surgical removal may be required.