What is gas pain during your period?
Hormones wreak havoc on a woman’s system during menses. Progesterone is a hormone that slows down your digestive system, especially during the latter half of your period. Many women begin to bloat a few days before their period even begins.
During this already painful time, gas can build up in your digestive tract and cause you to hurt even more. This is incredibly common: nearly 55% of women report gastrointestinal pain during their period.
Symptoms of period gas pain
Gas naturally builds up in your intestines, but your period can make your body produce more than usual. Gas symptoms generally accompany period gas pain — but they might be amplified.
Causes of period gas pain
Period gas pain is caused by a buildup of gas in your gastrointestinal tract. The gas produced from the digestive process travels along with the food as it is digested. Since your digestive system has slowed down, the food you eat doesn’t travel as fast as it usually does through your system.
Gas is also the result of swallowing air from eating and drinking.
If you tend to eat or drink more during your period, you might be swallowing more air. This, combined with gas from digesting, can cause pain if too air much accumulates.
Diagnosing period gas pain
Anyone can develop abdominal pain from gas. Women can develop more gas during their period because of the hormonal changes and a tendency to eat gas-causing foods they might not usually eat to help them cope with the pain.
If your period gas pain is bad enough for you to see your doctor, they will inquire about your medical history and ask if it is normal for you to have gas pains during your period. They may conduct a physical examination of the abdominal area to locate where the gas is built up.
If necessary, the doctor may order some tests to find out why gas might be building up. Tests can include:
The doctor uses X-rays to look for signs of any blockages or other abnormalities that might be causing you to have gas pain.
Doctors perform a colonoscopy to look for signs of cancer, narrowing, polyps, tumors, or obstructions.
A sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that uses a light and a camera that is inserted through the anus to look at the lower colon area for inflammation, obstructions, sores, or anything else that is out of the ordinary.
Your doctor may also ask you to keep a food journal so that they can see the kinds of foods you’re eating. Many women tend to eat differently during their period, so the doctor might be able to identify foods that are causing you to produce more gas during your period.
Treatments for period gas pain
You and your doctor can do several things to reduce the gas pain you feel during your period.
Your doctor might discuss some medications that can help reduce your period symptoms. Oral contraceptives work to keep you from becoming pregnant — but they can also help regulate your hormones and period symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe laxatives or stool softeners to help the food and waste move through your system faster.
There are plenty of over-the-counter remedies to choose from to help you get rid of your gas pain. The main ingredient is simethicone, which breaks up gas bubbles in your digestive system. This makes it easier to pass the gas.
To reduce gas pain at home, you can try:
Complications or side effects from period gas pain
A buildup of gas is not generally known to cause any health problems or symptoms other than pain. However, the pain can become excruciating if you aren’t able to release all of the gas that is building in your abdomen.
If you’re taking medication to prevent or treat gas pain, you might develop side-effects specific to the medicine. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the treatment they give you and the potential side effects.
Gas might be a sign of other health concerns as well. Endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome commonly cause more gas to build up during your period, so make sure you ask your doctor about these conditions as well.
Women's Conditions Resources
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Gastroenterology Report: "Symptomatology of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease during the menstrual cycle."
Harvard Health Review: "Can hormonal birth control trigger depression?"
John Hopkins Medicine: "Abdominal X-ray."
John Hopkins Medicine: "Colonoscopy."
John Hopkins Medicine: "Gas in the Digestive Tract."
John Hopkins Medicine: "Sigmoidoscopy."
MayoClinic: "Gas and Gas Pains."