When I open my IG I see so many women sharing photos of their endo belly to reveal a little-known symptom of Endometriosis.
You might think bloating is a normal part of every woman’s cycle, but this is not normal bloating, and endometriosis is not a normal cycle. Endo bloat typically gets worse as the day goes on.
You can look six months pregnant by the end of the day. Since endometriosis can make it difficult to conceive, looking like you’re in your second trimester just because you are sick and you have endometriosis bloated stomach, it can feel like a cruel side effect.
Plus, there can be body image ramifications. Women with Endometriosis are told to eat healthily, exercise frequently, and maintain ideal body weight to help with their symptoms.
But is that enough to manage Endo belly?
Over the past few years I asked myself so many times ‘why does endo belly happen’ and ‘is there a way to manage endo bloat’.
We are calling it endo belly and it’s emotionally and physically painful.
There have been moments when I have literally cried to my boyfriend, complaining about how fat I have gotten but the next day I’m back to having a flat tummy?!
We get asked if we are pregnant all the time! No hunny I’m not pregnant I’ve just been bloated for the past week, but thanks for noticing. That’s ironic….. we get asked if we are pregnant when we are having an endo belly moment, yet one of our symptoms is possible infertility?
Endo Belly is the only visible symptom of Endometriosis
Coincidentally, endometriosis bloat (endo belly) is the only visible symptom of this chronic illness. We can use makeup to mask our fatigue and a smile to hide excruciating pain, but a bloated abdomen demands to be seen unless you move north for the summer or opt to make muumuus a permanent fixture of your wardrobe (neither of which we recommend as real solutions, btw).
And bloating has a knack for affecting intimacy in new relationships when your early morning “normal stomach” suddenly looks as though you’re carrying a bowling ball under your pajamas. Many menstruating women don’t connect the dots when these issues crop up at the same time, and I understand why.
Based on the images we see in magazines and social media, and the diet and exercise advice that’s offered everywhere (which is based largely on research done on cis males), we’re led to believe a flat tummy is the result of deprivation diets and torturous workouts.
I can tell you that bloating typically has less to do with how committed you are to your diet and exercise plan and much more to do with the bacteria in your gut and how efficiently you’re metabolizing estrogen.
Endo Bloat is an everyday occurrence for me
Does that sound familiar to you??? So many times I tried and tried to explain to people how does it feel endo bloat…..It feels more like a monster taking over. Pressing on every organ possible, stabbing you over and over again. Yeah, that sounds more like an endo belly. And, unfortunately, is an everyday occurrence for me. Some days are more tolerable than others, but that monster is always there.
“Endo belly” is a term that we all use often when we are feeling bloated. Actually, ‘feeling bloated’ is not even the correct term to use to describe it.
Why does endo belly happen?
A bloated endo tummy is often misdiagnosed as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and/or is often overlook and dismissed by many medical practitioners.
Sadly it can actually be one of the most emotional and distressing symptoms to many! So I thought about what actually is endo bloat, I know it’s when we swell up like a balloon, but do any of us know what actually causes it?! I had no idea.
So I got thinking and did some research and this is what I came up with – Unfortunately, there are no medical explanations that cause bloating in endometriosis.
But there are two theories:
– endo bloat accompanies a menstrual period. When endometrial tissue growing on other organs thinks it’s time to menstruate, women begin bleeding internally, and the body gets inflamed. Hello, endo belly.
– endometriosis patients can be more sensitive in regards to how their intestines and gut process things. Endo bloat could be a side effect of the intestines working overtime.
The key to beating the endo belly is to understand what’s causing it. There are three main culprits that cause water retention, and once you can identify which is your main root cause, you can start eating to treat it.
Let’s face it:
How many more times can we hear “Eat less salt and drink more water”?
By the time we’re bloated, it’s too late—we’re deep in our cravings for more salt and all the other foods that add to the physical discomfort we feel.
PMS has many symptoms. If bloating is one that you see regularly, there’s a good chance you have a constellation of other annoying symptoms, including migraines, acne, and mood swings.
What kind of period bloat do you have?
Ladies, if you are a chronic endo belly sufferer, perhaps look further into what actually causes the bloating? You could rid yourself of this embarrassing and painful symptom by eliminating a few things or changing your lifestyle a little. Lately, I found an interesting article about period bloat. For me, the information was really useful so I will share some of it with you:
1. Estrogen-overload water weight.
Estrogen can cause salt and water to be retained in the tissues. Many women have too much estrogen relative to deficient levels of progesterone. This is likely your bloating type if you have pre-existing hormonal imbalances like fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, ovarian cysts, PMS, or difficult perimenopause.
You have what is referred to as “estrogen dominance,” and during the luteal phase (PMS week), especially high levels of estrogen are associated with bloating and endo belly.
How to solve it:
Help your body during your luteal phase metabolize excess estrogen—make estrogen-flushing juice from carrot, beet, celery, and lemon; eat dark leafy greens, legumes, flax; reduce animal protein and dairy; and supplement to support liver function with the mother of all antioxidants, glutathione, and vitamin C.
2. Cortisol-stress puffiness.
A few stress-filled days and sleepless nights, and magically you seem to weigh 5 pounds more than you did the day before. That’s the effect of cortisol: It puffs you up by forcing the body to retain sodium. If you’re feeling chronically stressed, overwhelmed, stretched too thin, have low-grade fatigue all day, or rely on caffeine, then this is very likely your bloating type.
How to solve it:
Low- to medium-intensity exercise is a great way to beat stress and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Stress makes all physical symptoms worse, including bloat. Also: self-pleasure! Masturbation is one of the fastest and most fun ways to flush massive amounts of cortisol. And if you haven’t already, reduce or say goodbye to caffeine, which causes the body to produce extra cortisol.
3. Magnesium-deficiency swelling.
The human body runs on electricity derived from four key electrolytes: calcium, sodium, potassium, and, of course, magnesium. If you work out hard, have stress, and drink caffeine, then it’s very easy for your body to become magnesium-deficient.
Signs of deficiency aside from bloating include depression, migraines, insomnia, leg cramps, facial twitches, and/or insomnia. Menstrual cramps are also a sign of low magnesium.
How to solve it:
There are natural strategies for boosting magnesium, including eating key magnesium-rich foods, like sunflower seeds, low-mercury fish, leafy greens, and my personal favorite, dark chocolate! I love recommending dark chocolate as medicine. Just make sure that you choose chocolate that contains 70 percent cacao or more. A 100-gram serving has 176 milligrams of magnesium, which is just over half of the recommended daily intake for adult women. Enjoy!
4. Gut microbiome low-belly bloat.
Scientists are just beginning to understand the profound effect the millions of microbes in your digestive tract have on your overall health—including bloating.
When your microbiome—a fancy word for the flora populating your gut—becomes imbalanced, your gut can start to react to certain foods and have problems absorbing nutrients, both of which fuel a wide range of health problems from acne and weight-loss resistance to brain fog, depression, and bloating. But here’s where things get really interesting:
Digesting food isn’t your gut flora’s only job. A specific set of bacteria known as the astrobleme is responsible for helping metabolize estrogen. When these bacteria are out of balance, your body doesn’t process and eliminate excess estrogen efficiently.
This can lead to estrogen dominance, which contributes to bad PMS, among other health problems—and that includes more bloating.
So microbiome imbalances are a double whammy when it comes to bloating, contributing to both food reactivity and estrogen overload. That’s why the first step in putting a stop to bloat is addressing gut health.
How to solve it:
Healing your gut is the single best thing you can do to help with bloat—and the process starts with food. Reduce or eliminate sugar, dairy, and gluten, and keep inflammatory processed foods to a minimum. Then stock up on hormone-healthy whole foods like organic greens, avocados, pastured eggs, ground flaxseed, and berries. Make probiotics part of your diet. Taking a high-quality probiotic helps nudge your gut flora back into balance. And of course, a great magnesium glycinate supplement is great this week.
How I Deal with Endo Belly?
So basically, to me, I have come to the conclusion that endo belly is just another stupid side effect of either endo itself OR some other weird thing endo causes that then causes bloating, however, its name to me shall still remain as endo belly.
Although every day is a constant struggle, I have found ways to cope with the bloat and pain. I had to get myself out of the ‘I want to disappear’ rut I was in.
I keep fight with endo belly, but these are some really great tips that may help you
Black Seed (cumin) Oil
The black seed oil has been in use for thousands of years for medicine, food, and even cosmetics. Black seeds are carminative, meaning they aid in digestion and may decrease gas, bloating, and stomach pain. Black seed oil is often sometimes used in remedies for intestinal parasites.
Black seed oil was also shown to be helpful in battling candida and fungal infections in the digestive system and on the skin. It is unique in its way of supporting the immune system. And yes, there is a big connection between endometriosis and the immune system, you can check my post about here. It contains the antioxidants, beneficial acids, and B-vitamins you would expect in a natural remedy, but has an additional benefit.
Drinking a lot of water
Not only is this good for inflammation and bloating, but it is also good for your whole entire health. It is always a good idea to drink a glass of water, isn’t it? I find it soothing when I have cramps too. If you struggle to drink a lot of water, make it fun! I have all sorts of cute cups to drink from. And sometimes, I put fresh fruit in it, to give it some color and flavor.
So, I can’t deny. When I exercise, I feel good. I feel alive. I feel vibrant. I get a kick out of feeling muscles grow that I didn’t even know. That not only help with my endo belly and all the disgusting feelings but also help with any ounce of pain I feel. I have a few specific moves that I will bring up another time.
When I feel bloating I’m always going for a walk. That helps not only your body but also your brain. Walking in the park is the best chance to stay close to nature and feel alive. The best way to refresh my brain. Either way, walking is the best medicine for my bloat. I try to switch it up sometimes too. Anything too intense causes more pain for me, so it is important for you to find which sort of activity you can handle.
Bentonite Clay or Green Clay
One of my last posts is about why I chose natural remedies for my Endo where I explain more about the Bentonite and the Green clay. When placed on the skin clay draws out toxins to the outside surface of the clay (adsorption). These toxins then enter into the clay and sit in between its layers (absorption).
If you want to know your body better you need a diary. Trust me, every time I have a flare-up, documenting the day, time, and what it was I did that day or ate right before, helps me better learn what I should probably stay away from.
These are the ways that have worked for me, but look at your symptoms and body and work out what you feel you could benefit and start from there.
Let me know how you experience it!