Endo Belly: Symptoms and Management
Many women with endometriosis experience “endo belly”, or severe bloating related to their endometriosis. Endo belly symptoms can vary from person to person, but are often linked to endometriosis flares or the menstrual cycle.
To better understand how endo belly affects the endometriosis community, we asked our Endometriosis.net advocates to share their endo belly experiences, and how they manage this uncomfortable – and often painful – symptom. Check-out their responses below, and comment below to share your own tips!
“While most people associate endo belly with being so swollen that you look six months pregnant or so, it is not always that extreme for everyone. Many doctors do associate part of our struggles with endo belly to some of the gastrointestinal issues that can decide to join endometriosis. Due to this, one thing I try to pay attention to is if I am having proper bowel movements and that the pain medicine is not constipating me. If it is, then I take the proper steps to help handle that situation to alleviate any constipation that is occurring. Another huge help is heat; this includes hot soup, hot teas, hot baths, and heating pads. I also choose to take this time to wear comfortable clothing such as leggings with a loose top; these days those outfits are fashionable and are comfortable for when the endo belly is rearing its ugly head.”
“Endo belly not only makes you self conscious, but it also causes way more pain during flares! I’ve noticed that cutting out dairy has helped me a ton. Other things like a hot bath, a heating pad, and loose fitting clothing can help make things more comfortable!”
“Endo belly was my first symptom and it began around 9 or 10, when I started entering puberty. My endo belly is always linked to food, but my endometriosis is very responsive to the foods I put in my body anyway. I am triggered most by what I eat – inflammatory foods will cause me pain, and often cause me to bloat to the point where I look six months pregnant. I also find certain fruits and vegetables can trigger it, such as sweet potatoes and raw carrots.
I follow an anti-inflammatory diet and also eat for my hormones (Womancode is a great resource), and this keeps my endo bloat to a minimum. I’ve also recently discovered that bloating is a symptom of estrogen dominance, which is very common in people with endometriosis, so I am working on trying to bring my hormones back into balance.”
“I suffer from this a lot. My belly can get so swollen I look pregnant. I manage it by avoiding foods that will worsen the inflammation, like gluten, dairy, and coffee. Eating mostly vegan food has also helped, but I have to choose my vegetables and legumes wisely. Comfortable clothes are key. A warm water bottle or pad, placed over my belly for short periods of time also helps a lot.”
“I get bloated for a few different endo-related reasons. I may or may not have endometriosis on my bowels, but I definitely experience digestive distress. I avoid highly processed soy (think soy ice cream, fake meats, and soy additives), follow a vegan, low-FODMAP diet, and limit sugars and refined carbohydrates. It’s a lot of ingredients to avoid, but it is definitely worth it. When my digestive system isn’t in pain, I have less problems overall. But sometimes I get a sensitive, bloated belly because my period is right around the corner. Sticking to an anti-inflammatory diet religiously is important during this time. I also have to have some ibuprofen at the ready. When I reduce the inflammation, and by default the pain, my belly tends to calm down a bit. When none of that works, I grab my heating pad and put on my jammies until it gets better.”
“I think I experience endo belly at least once a day. It is most definitely one of the worst things ever. My belly bloats out as if I am 9 months pregnant and I have been stopped numerous times by people asking me how far along I was. It hurts. It hurts because I do not know if I can get pregnant. It also hurts pain-wise. It feels as though someone is actually really in there, kicking me. The feeling of the bloat is uncomfortable and that feeling goes throughout my entire body. It isn’t just my stomach that ends up feeling the endo belly bloat. My face ends up feeling it, my legs, my neck – every body part. The only way I can manage endo belly is not eat for a few hours, wear stretchy clothes (nothing tight!), and drink a lot of water. Depending on how hot it is, sometimes walking helps me feel better when bloated. However, if it is 90 degrees, walking just makes it worse because the water weight makes me bloat even more! It’s a never ending process…”
“I find endo belly is helped by relaxation exercises such as breathing, meditation, and gentle movement such as yoga. Inflammatory foods such as sugar and alcohol are often implicated, so I steer clear of these and stay hydrated with water, ginger or turmeric and lemon tea, or mint tea. A heat pack is definitely a great help with endo belly.”