She's Really Bizzy RN with Endo Belly

I have never had a flat stomach. I have always related way more to the massive sea creatures beneath the waves than land-locked sunbathing beauties. Especially on my most recent trip to Morro Bay, CA, I experienced a much more aggressive cycle than I’ve been used to. I cringed at the reflection of myself in my one-piece. Although I was on this incredible trip, I still had to manage my symptoms.

Even at my skinniest, fittest version of myself, I always had issues with a bloated lower abdomen. Alas, my self-confidence wanes due to my sometimes pregnant-looking stomach. I want to say I don’t care but I do. I’ve personally always been self-conscious of it. No matter what I do, bloating haunts me every time I look into my wardrobe. For years, this was a huge point of confusion and discomfort in my life. But I now know it as a symptom.

It’s known as Endometriosis bloat or #EndoBelly - because 2019.

Like many symptoms around Endo, and Endo itself, it cannot be cured. Here are some theories as to why we experience it and a few ideas on how to manage. 

According to health.com, there are two theories about why women with Endometriosis experience bloating worse than women with healthy, “normal” cycles. Because bleeding and cramps every month is super normal and fun! 

One theory is that as endometrial tissue growing on other organs thinks it is time to menstruate, this causes internal bleeding and ultimately causes intense inflammation in the lower abdomen. 

Another theory is that Endo patients can be more sensitive with how our gut and lower intestines process things. This could be a side effect of the intestines working over time. 

Other resources blame SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth which can cause extreme discomfort in your lower abdomen and through digestion. 

Overgrown fibroids and cysts can also lead to bloating and discomfort. 

Gastrointestinal symptoms in women with endometriosis are incredibly common. Many are even misdiagnosed with IBS when it’s truly their Endometriosis that is the true culprit. I experience nausea and other symptoms especially through my cycle or when my body thinks I’m supposed to be going through a cycle. 

Fluid retention is another reason women experience bloating and feel uncomfortable. But unfortunately, there does not seem to be a medical consensus or hard answer for why women experience such physical symptoms.  

Bloating is one of the worst feelings! I feel like it is harder to breathe and I physically move like a rolly-polly ball. Clothing doesn’t fit correctly and wearing any type of form-fitting or revealing bathing suit makes me squirm. 

While I continue to incorporate regular exercise, cut out alcohol and sugars and do other lifestyle upgrades and changes, my diet has still regularly come into question. 

Three diets that have been recommended in a nutritional article from health.com are Paleo, Whole30 and a traditional Mediterranean diet. But finding out what triggers inflammatory responses can be different for everyone and is not an easy journey. 

Thus far, I have almost completely cut out gluten, carbs and sugar. I am currently cutting out red meat again to see if this is causing bloating, too. Then I will cut out any remaining dairy after a month of no red meat. I’ll then see how my cycle is after these next two months.  

It is always a journey with Endo especially because our bodies are always changing, too. Our gut seems to play a much greater role in our everyday health than I ever imagined! I can’t believe how much sugar and crap I was putting into my body. I am absolutely lactose-intolerant, too! 

As always, please consult your doctor, especially if your bloating becomes painful and lasts for more than a few days. This was personally a huge red flag for me right before I found out I needed to go in for surgery. It could indicate a larger issue at hand.

More Resources: 

https://www.endofound.org/endo-belly

https://www.endofound.org/these-fearless-women-show-what-endometriosis-really-looks-like

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20085682

https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/endometriosis-weight-gain#causes

https://www.health.com/nutrition/anti-inflammatory-diet?slide=465285#465285