Abdominal bloating occurs when the abdomen feels tight or full. This may cause the area to appear larger. The abdomen may feel hard or tight to the touch. The condition can cause discomfort and pain but is usually temporary and not a cause for concern.
A missed period is when your menstrual period does not happen when you thought it would (and is not just late). A missed period occurs when your menstrual cycle does not follow its customary rhythm. While this is a common occurrence for many women, it may signal an underlying medical condition.
Bloating is often caused by foods, such as broccoli, beans, and cabbage, that release gas in intestines when they are digested. Indigestion and other temporary digestive issues also cause bloating.
The hormones estrogen and progesterone control your menstrual cycle. A number of factors can influence your body’s production of these hormones, including lifestyle factors. This can cause missed menstrual periods.
Young women who are just beginning menstruation may not develop a regular cycle right away.
Some medications taken may also upset the body's balance and lead to missed periods and/or abdominal bloating.
Conditions that may cause abdominal bloating and missed periods at the same time are:
- anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders
- stress and anxiety
- early pregnancy
- ovarian cancer
- ovarian cysts
- polycystic ovary syndrome
- medications such as birth control pills, chemotherapy drugs, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications
- thyroid or pituitary gland disorders
- a tumor or structural blockage that affects an egg's release from the fallopian tubes
- ectopic pregnancy
A missed period and abdominal bloating may occur for many reasons that are not cause for concern. However, if your missed periods continue or your bloating worsens, seeking a physician's care can help to determine a root cause. If you miss three periods in a row, see a doctor.
If you experience one of the following symptoms in addition to abdominal pain and bloating, seek emergency care:
- blood in your stool or dark stools that appear tarry in consistency
- diarrhea that does not go away in a day
- severe abdominal pain
- uncontrolled vomiting
- severe or worsening heartburn
(This information is a summary. Seek medical attention if you suspect you need urgent care.)
Medical treatments for abdominal bloating and missed periods will address the underlying cause. To address an irregular menstrual cycle, a doctor might prescribe medications such as birth control pills, thyroid hormones, and/or pituitary hormones.
Eating a healthy diet, avoiding excess fat and salt, and drinking plenty of water can help reduce abdominal bloating. Fluids that contain caffeine, including coffee and tea, may contribute to bloating and should therefore be avoided if possible.
Exercising can help to reduce stress and bloating. However, excessive exercising can contribute to missed periods.
Because stress can trigger missed periods, keep your stress levels as low as possible. Engaging in activities you enjoy, exercising, and listening to calming music can all help you relax you and minimize stress.
Eating several small meals throughout the day, instead of larger ones, and taking your time while eating them can help prevent abdominal bloating.