Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a chronic condition that causes a hormonal imbalance in women.  It can affect your fertility as well as give you other symptoms such as irregular or no periods, excess hair, acne, and bloating.  Bloating is when your stomach feels fuller than normal, may appear swollen or feel that way, and can be very painful and uncomfortable.  Bloating occurs usually after eating.  Many people deal with bloating, but it can be a very common side effect of someone with PCOS.

Causes Of Bloating

There are a few main causes of bloating in women with PCOS.

The first is the imbalance of hormones.  With your hormones being unbalanced it can cause you to be vulnerable to water retention.  This can lead to bloating.

The second cause of bloating with PCOS is your diet.  A carbohydrate called raffinose doesn’t digest well which can cause either more gas production, or trapped gas which both ends in bloating.  Raffinose is found in asparagus, beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.

Other food triggers that can lead to bloating are dairy foods especially if you are lactose intolerant, whole grains, fruits, carbonated beverages, and artificial sweeteners.  Finding your food triggers is important to help ease pain and discomfort.  If you can’t find your triggers, keep a food diary for a few weeks to see what foods cause you bloating and what don’t.

Women with PCOS have a different gut microbiome.  This can cause a different balance in the gut bacteria which can reduce absorptions of nutrients, and cause trouble digesting foods normally.  This difference in a gut microbiome can cause bloating to happen regularly in women with PCOS.

Medications that are sometimes prescribed for PCOS can cause bloating.  Metformin, one of the most common medications, has a side effect of bloating, and abdominal discomfort.  If you are taking this medication you may be experiencing a side effect.  Other hormonal birth controls can also cause bloating as a side effect.


Tips For Cutting Out The Bloat

Managing your diet seems like the first step in trying to beat the bloat.  The first thing to do is to find out what your bloating triggers are.  Many women who suffer with PCOS also have intolerances to dairy and gluten.  Cutting out these two things first to see if your symptoms are better can be essential in seeing what helps.  If you don’t see any difference with being gluten and dairy free, start a food journal so you can see what foods trigger your bloating.

Stay hydrated.  Hydration can help keep your digestion moving especially if you struggle with constipation too.

Avoid fizzy drinks, and caffeine.

Try to limit how much air you swallow while you eat.  Don’t drink through a straw, and chew with your mouth closed.

Make sure you increase your fiber in your meals to help aid digestion.

Avoid large meals before bed, eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day and don’t lay down immediately after eating.  This can cause a build up of gas to occur.

Taking a good probiotic supplement can help get your gut bacteria balanced.  Foods that are high in prebiotics are asparagus, artichokes, beetroots, cabbage, garlic, and onions.  Foods high in probiotics are coconut yogurt, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi.  Adding more or less of these foods will help you determine which one you need more in your diet.  Finding the right balance for your gut bacteria can be essential in beating the bloat.

Making sure you are doing daily exercise can also be beneficial in stopping bloating.  Your exercise does not have to be high intensity to be effective.  It is more about moving your body intentionally.  Exercises like a walk, pilates, barre, swimming, or yoga can be effective.  Reducing the intensity can help if you suffer from chronic inflammation in your body too.

PCOS can cause major adrenal fatigue, so doing exercises such as yoga and pilates can keep you both mentally and physically engaged which can help.  Yoga specific exercises can help decrease bloating.

Stress can cause bloating especially in people with PCOS.  Yoga moves like seated twist, cat-cow, or child’s pose can help reduce stress and reduce bloating.

Make sure you are prioritizing your sleep.  Getting good quality sleep is essential with PCOS to help you feel rejuvenated the next day.  Doing relaxation techniques before bed can help you sleep better.  Getting daily exercise can also help you feel tired enough to sleep at night.



Not everyone with PCOS will have the same food triggers.  Not everyone with PCOS will have the same response to bloating as everyone else.  Finding your triggers and refining your diet can be a good place to start with PCOS bloat.

If you have other symptoms along with bloating you will want to reach out to your healthcare provider.

PCOS and IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, sometimes are related.  You can have PCOS with symptoms that are similar to IBS without having the condition.  While other people will have both PCOS and IBS.

Usually PCOS bloating can be managed with diet and lifestyle changes.