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Severe Bloating During Ovulation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Does ovulation cause bloating? It certainly can, and can be really unpleasant. But never fear, because Flo is here with handy tips for battling troublesome ovulation bloating.

Ovulation is the release of a mature egg from the ovaries. It travels down the fallopian tubes where it awaits fertilization by a sperm. Typically, ovulation occurs 10 to 16 days before your period, and you may experience symptoms of bloating during or before ovulation.  

Additonally, ovulation sometimes produces a heightened sense of smell, a boost in energy and sex drive, and an overall feeling of wellbeing and optimism. Inversely, some people experience ovulation bloating, breast tenderness, and one-sided abdominal pain.

The term bloating refers to feeling increased abdominal pressure without an accompanying increase in abdominal size. Swelling, on the other hand, is when your body’s tissues retain fluid. Both conditions can make you feel puffy.

Just before the onset of ovulation, your estrogen and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels surge. These hormonal shifts may trigger water retention and swelling, not to mention complications in the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in bloating during ovulation. 

For most, ovulation bloating tends to resolve on its own a few hours to a few days later. But if bloating during ovulation persists or stems from another medical issue (e.g., endometriosis, an ovarian cyst, or polycystic ovary syndrome), make sure to consult a health care provider.

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Bloating during ovulation frequently leads to mild weight gain because of hormone-based water retention and fuller breasts. Occasionally, this accumulation of fluids (brought on by estrogen spikes and a sodium backup) may be noticeable around the time of ovulation, not just during it. 

Major food cravings could also rear their ugly head. High-sodium, processed foods like potato chips, french fries, and cheesy snacks seem especially irresistible at this point. But consuming excess amounts of sodium will only aggravate water retention, ovulation bloating, and weight gain. 

As mentioned, some people observe other symptoms of ovulation, including:

  • Changes in vaginal discharge — Discharge becomes clear, stretchy, wet, and abundant. You may spot it on your underwear or panty liner, or feel it when you’re wiping after using the bathroom.
  • Changes in basal body temperature — Your body temperature often rises slightly after ovulation. If you’re trying to get pregnant, consider tracking it with a thermometer at the same time every morning before getting out of bed to monitor your fertility. 
  • Changes in cervical position — Right now, your cervix might be softer, higher, and more open and wet than usual. Differentiating the position of your cervix during ovulation can be tricky, but it’s possible with a bit of practice. After that, make a habit of checking your cervix regularly to help manage your reproductive health. 
  • Mittelschmerz pain — In certain cases, ovulation contributes to dull or sharp lower abdominal pain on one side, associated with mild vaginal discharge or bleeding. It can last from just a few minutes to one or two days. 

Aside from ovulation bloating and the above symptoms, the secondary signs of ovulation are as follows:

  • Light spotting
  • Breast tenderness 
  • Slight cramping
  • One-sided abdominal or pelvic pain 
  • Heightened sense of taste, vision, or smell
  • Increased sex drive

If you’re trying to conceive, engage in regular sexual intercourse in the five days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation. This should raise your likelihood of getting pregnant. For enhanced accuracy, purchase an ovulation kit, which is designed to measure LH levels in your urine.

The easiest way to distinguish between premenstrual bloating and ovulation bloating is by tracking your monthly cycle. Ovulation bloating appears in the middle of your cycle, several days before actual ovulation. In contrast, PMS bloating begins after ovulation, potentially starting a week before your period and lasting up to a week after. Additional PMS symptoms could include:

  • Breast tenderness or swelling
  • Period-related diarrhea or constipation 
  • Abdominal cramping  
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Period-related nausea
  • Limit your daily sodium intake by avoiding fatty, salty, processed junk foods. 
  • Try adopting a low-FODMAP diet. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polyols. FODMAPs are indigestible carbohydrates that create bloating, stomach pain, and gas. High-FODMAP foods include wheat, onions, broccoli, garlic, cauliflower, cabbage, artichokes, apples, beans, watermelons, and pears. 
  • Do routine aerobic exercise throughout the month to relieve water retention. 
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga to alleviate ovulation bloating arising from digestive disturbances.

For some people, ovulation brings several uncomfortable and unwanted symptoms each month. Ovulation bloating typically occurs either during ovulation or several days before due to hormonal shifts, as well as sodium and water retention. However, it’s relatively mild compared to premenstrual bloating and ought to improve within a couple of days. 

Flatulence and weight gain, along with changes in vaginal discharge, basal body temperature, and cervical position can also be expected. Fight bloating during ovulation by lowering your salt intake, avoiding high-FODMAP foods, exercising, and practicing relaxation strategies. If bloating during ovulation persists, be sure to talk to your health care provider.

“How Can I Tell When I’m Ovulating?” NHS Choices, NHS, 1 May 2019, www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/how-can-i-tell-when-i-am-ovulating/.

Welt, Corrine K. “Evaluation of the Menstrual Cycle and Timing of Ovulation.” UpToDate, 5 May 2019, www.uptodate.com/contents/evaluation-of-the-menstrual-cycle-and-timing-of-ovulation.

Foley, Anna, et al. “Management Strategies for Abdominal Bloating and Distension.” Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Millennium Medical Publishing, Sept. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991532/.

Stachenfeld, Nina S. “Sex Hormone Effects on Body Fluid Regulation.” Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2849969/.

Wenner, Megan M., and Nina S. Stachenfeld. “Blood Pressure and Water Regulation: Understanding Sex Hormone Effects within and between Men and Women.” The Physiological Society, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 5 Nov. 2012, physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1113/jphysiol.2012.236752.

“Beat the Bloat.” NHS Choices, NHS, 28 Aug. 2019, www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/remedies-for-bloating-and-wind/?tabname=food-and-diet.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Mittelschmerz.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 July 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mittelschmerz/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20375126.

White, Colin P, et al. “Fluid Retention over the Menstrual Cycle: 1-Year Data from the Prospective Ovulation Cohort.” Obstetrics and Gynecology International, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3154522.

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