Healthcare provider with pregnant patient discussing the difference between pregnancy bloating vs. period bloating

Pregnancy Bloating vs. Period Bloating: What's the Difference?

Written on November 25, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Bloating is a common symptom experienced by women during pregnancy and before getting their periods.[1,2] Bloating occurs when your stomach feels full and uncomfortable.[3] There are several common reasons for bloating, such as certain foods and drinks and issues with digestion. Pregnancy and menstruation are also causes of bloating. Continue reading to learn more about the similarities and differences between pregnancy bloating vs period bloating. You will also learn more about tips to help reduce bloating.

Pregnancy Bloating

Pregnancy can be an exciting time, but it often comes with some uncomfortable symptoms.[4] Bloating is often experienced by pregnant women. In early pregnancy, bloating can occur due to an increased level of progesterone.[5] Progesterone can slow down digestion and trap gases in the intestines, contributing to bloating.

During pregnancy, there are physical changes to the body as the uterus grows, adding to the bloating and constipation.[6] Pregnancy can increase fluid retention and gas production. Additionally, it can cause displacement of organs by the growing fetus, which can lead to bloating.

Period Bloating

Bloating is common before and during a period.[5] An estimated 62% of women have bloating before having their periods, and 51% experience bloating during their periods. It is suggested that the changing hormone levels, like estrogen and progesterone, during your menstrual cycle is what leads to bloating. The hormones can cause the body to retain fluids that can lead to bloating.

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Water retention and bloating occur during ovulation and around menstruation. The hormones during menstruation also impact diet, leading to consuming foods high in salt, sugar, or carbohydrates, which causes the body to retain more water and contributes to bloating. Another factor that can add to bloating during menstruation is stress. The cortisol hormone that is released during stressful events contributes to bloating.

Pregnancy Bloating vs. Period Bloating

There are several differences between pregnancy and period bloating.[1,2] With pregnancy bloating, you may experience morning sickness and food cravings. With period bloating, you are more likely to experience headaches, acne, fatigue, and mood swings. Pregnancy bloating can persist for an extended amount of time, while period bloating will go away once the menstrual cycle is done. Pregnancy bloating tends to be caused by hormonal changes that increase blood flow to the uterus, and period bloating is caused by water retention and changing hormone levels. It’s important to note that if bleeding occurs during pregnancy, bloating could indicate something more serious, and you should alert your healthcare provider.

Tips To Help With Bloating During Pregnancy And Menstruation

You can take steps to help resolve the discomfort of bloating during pregnancy and your period.[1-3] Applying warm compresses to the abdomen, taking a nice warm bath, or using a heating pad can help reduce cramps and alleviate abdominal discomfort such as bloating. You can also wear loose-fitting clothes and take breaks throughout the day to help decrease the pressure on the abdomen and relieve some bloating.

Choosing foods and drinks that are low in fats, salts, and sugars can help reduce fluid retention and help ease bloating. Additionally, you can limit foods that are high in carbohydrates and known to cause gas, such as cabbage or beans. You can also consider eating smaller meals instead of large ones. If you notice that you have a food sensitivity, then it is best to avoid eating it. Light exercise can also help with reducing bloating by improving digestion and moving gas. If the bloating continues without any relief, is painful, gets worse, or occurs with fever or vomiting, then it’s important to discuss the bloating with your healthcare provider.

Support For Women's Health Via Everlywell

With Everlywell, you have an option for an at-home women’s fertility lab test (you collect your sample at home and send it to a lab for testing). The test checks five key hormones that can affect your menstrual cycle, ovulation, and ability to become pregnant. This test uses a simple finger prick sample and measures hormones regulating ovarian function. Test results will provide detailed information on the five hormones measured and whether your levels fall within established normal ranges.

The Everlywell test result is reviewed by an independent, board-certified healthcare provider in your state. Everlywell also takes HIPAA privacy seriously. Everlywell uses state-of-the-art technology to ensure your data is stored securely.

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  1. Symptoms of pregnancy. Mayo Clinic. December 3, 2021. Accessed November 21, 2023.
  2. Menstrual cycle (normal menstruation): Overview & Phases. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed November 21, 2023.
  3. Bloating. National Health Services. Accessed November 21, 2023.
  4. During pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 16, 2023. Accessed November 21, 2023.
  5. Am I bloated or pregnant? Medical News Today. Accessed November 21, 2023.
  6. Changes during pregnancy. ACOG. Accessed November 21, 2023.
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