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What’s Causing My Abdominal Bloating and Missed Period?

Overview

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 doesn’t occur when you thought it would (and is not just late). This happens when your menstrual cycle doesn’t follow its customary rhythm. While it can be a common occurrence for many women, a missed period may signal an underlying medical condition.

Here are eight possible causes for abdominal bloating and missed periods.

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Pregnancy

Pregnancy

Some of the most notable signs of early pregnancy include fatigue, nausea (also called morning sickness), swollen or tender breasts, and constipation. Read more about signs of pregnancy.

Menopause

Menopause

A woman enters menopause when it has been 12 months since her last period. At this point, her ovaries have stopped releasing eggs. Read more about menopause.

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Ovarian cysts

Ovarian cysts

Women have two ovaries that produce eggs, as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Sometimes, a fluid-filled sac called a cyst will develop on one of the ovaries. Symptoms of an ovarian cyst include nausea, vomiting, bloating, painful bowel movements, and pain during sex. Read more about ovarian cysts.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which a woman’s levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are out of balance. PCOS can affect a women’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance. Read more about polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy

In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the fertilized egg does not attach to the uterus. Instead, it may attach to the fallopian tube, abdominal cavity, or cervix. Read more about ectopic pregnancy.

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Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer

The ovaries are small, almond-shaped organs located on either side of the uterus. They are where eggs are produced. Ovarian cancer can occur in several different parts of the ovary. Read more about ovarian cancer.

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Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that can result in severe weight loss. A person with anorexia is preoccupied with calorie intake and weight. Read more about anorexia nervosa.

Anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorder

It’s common to feel anxious about the things happening in your life — such as your finances — every once in a while. A person who has GAD may worry uncontrollably about their finances several times per day for months on end. Read more about anxiety disorder.

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Causes of abdominal bloating

What causes abdominal bloating?

Bloating is often caused by foods, such as broccoli, beans, and cabbage. These kinds of foods release gas in the intestines when they are digested. Indigestion and other temporary digestive issues also cause bloating.

Other causes

Other possible causes

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 may also upset the body’s hormone balance and lead to missed periods and/or abdominal bloating.

Conditions that may cause abdominal bloating and missed periods at the same time are:

See your doctor

When to seek medical help

A missed period and abdominal bloating may occur for many reasons that are not cause for concern. But if your missed periods continue or your bloating worsens, talk to your doctor to help you determine the 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
  • vaginal bleeding

This information is a summary. Seek medical attention if you suspect you need urgent care.

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Treatment

How are abdominal bloating and missed periods treated?

Medical treatment

Your doctor has a number of medications that can help treat abdominal bloating and missed periods. These treatments will address most underlying causes. Birth control pills, thyroid hormones, and pituitary hormones are just some of the medications your doctor may prescribe. It all depends on the root cause of your abdominal bloating and missed period.

Home care

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. They should be avoided if possible.

Exercising can help to reduce stress and bloating. Also know that excessive exercising can contribute to missed periods.

Prevention

How to prevent abdominal bloating and missed periods

Stress can trigger missed periods, so make an attempt to keep your stress level down. Engage in activities you enjoy; exercise and listen to calm music. All of this can help you relax and minimize stress.

Eat several small meals throughout the day, instead of larger ones. Taking your time while eating can also help prevent abdominal bloating.

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