5 Ways to Beat the Bloat with PCOS

Uggghh… There’s nothing worse than feeling bloated. You feel full but have hardly eaten anything. You look about 6 months pregnant and as people know you’re trying to conceive, people ask when your baby is due (not what you want to hear when you’re struggling to conceive anyway). The clothes that you love and normally fit you just don’t feel comfortable anymore. Bloating and PCOS seem to go hand in hand.

I know that I’m not the only one who feels like this on occasion as many of you have asked me to look into how we can beat the bloat with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

What Causes Bloating with PCOS?

Bloating is a common symptom of PCOS and many women with a normal hormonal profile will also experience bloating occasionally. Let’s try and figure out the culprit that is causing us to feel bloated.


Hormone Imbalance

Beat-the-bloat-with-PCOS-hormonesWe know that our hormones are totally imbalanced when it comes to PCOS anyway. But did you know that Estrogen and Progesterone are important in fluid balance? (1)

Estrogen in particular causes us to retain water. One lovely lady asked me recently why she looked thinner or less bloated when she finally had her period after 4 months without it. Well, Estrogen would be the culprit. Before ovulation, estrogen levels are high and drop when progesterone levels rise during menstruation. The dropping Estrogen levels help to relieve the water retention and subsequent bloating.

Gut Flora

We all have bacteria and yeast living in our gut that help with digestion. But sometimes they can get out whack with too much of one kind and not enough of another.

If you’re lacking in some bacterias, your food may not be digested properly. This leads to the food fermenting and you become bloated.

Also, yeasts produce gas which leads to bloating. And, yeasts loved refined sugars and alcohol. So, reducing wheat and refined sugars should help avoid bloating. (2)

Food intolerances

Beat-the-bloat-with-PCOS-wheatI’ve already spoken about Gluten and PCOS but it seems that many women with PCOS are intolerant togluten (3). Many people also have an intolerance to dairy (which we shouldn’t be having anyway. See here for why). People who have food allergies have an autoimmune response to food, with symptoms that include (4):

  • Abdominal pains
  • Acid reflux
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Nausea

In a food intolerance, you can get the same symptoms but you do not have the full autoimmune response.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

This one is particularly important for women with PCOS who are using fertility drugs. OHSS is caused by stimulation of the ovaries to produce eggs. It can be caused by Clomifene or HCG and having PCOS greatly increases your risk of OHSS (5)

Symptoms of OHSS include:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

If you are undergoing fertility treatments and you experience any of these symptoms, you need to be seen by your doctor!

Right, so now that we have looked at the causes of bloating in women with PCOS, let’s look at how we can deal with bloating.

Beat the Bloat

Balance your hormones

I know that this is often easier said than done but it is fundamental to managing your PCOS and is exactly what this whole website is dedicated to. If you can manage your insulin and testosterone levels through diet and exercise in particular (this addresses the underlying pathology of PCOS instead of simply relying on drugs) you should have a return of your cycle. This will normalize your estrogen and progesterone levels and will relieve some of your bloating (6).

There are plenty of articles throughout this site that will help you to make those dietary changes but if you need some more guidance, check out PCOS Foodies for more information on our weekly meal plans…


Movement and exercise helps with the movement of food and air through the digestive tract so it will help to alleviate bloating (7)  – not to mention all of the other benefits of exercise as it specifically relates to polycystic ovarian syndrome).

Drink spearmint tea

Beat-the-bloat-with-PCOS-spearmint-teaWe already know that spearmint tea helps to manage testosterone levels (and if you didn’t, you can find out more here). The other advantage is that it helps with digestive disturbances and bloating (8)  If you haven’t already started drinking spearmint tea, I would highly recommend it. In fact, my kettle has just boiled for my next cup.

I order mine online from Amazon as I struggle to find it in health food stores or my grocery store. Alvita have a highly rated Spearmint tea on Amazon.

Take Probiotics

Probiotics help to balance flora that lives in your gut and will help to alleviate bloating (9). The most common source of probiotics is yoghurt. This leads to a little bit of a dilemma as we’ve already said we should eliminate dairy.

Well, the IGF-1 content (which causes a rise in our testosterone levels and is really problematic for PCOS) is significantly reduced by the fermentation process (10). So, I would suggest that yoghurt with live cultures is a good source of probiotics for women with PCOS. Just be careful of the carbohydrate content and artificially sweetened yoghurts. A plain Greek yoghurt is probably your best bet.

Up your Potassium

Beat-the-bloat-with-PCOS-bananaWe tend to have a lot of salt in our food and salt or sodium chloride promotes water retention. Potassium, on the other hand, counteracts the sodium chloride and helps to regulate the fluid balance in our bodies (11). Foods that are rich in potassium include bananas, cantaloupe, mangoes, spinach, tomatoes, nuts and asparagus. Just be aware of carb content and glycemic loads of these foods. If you are going to have a banana, for example, make sure that you have it with some protein to balance the carbs and prevent a huge spike in your insulin.

Summing it Up

So, we know that bloating is common for so many of us with PCOS and it can leave us feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. It is often caused by:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Gut flora
  • Food intolerance
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome

It can be dealt with, though, and you can manage your bloating by:

  • Balancing your hormones
  • Exercising regularly
  • Drinking spearmint tea (yum!)
  • Taking probiotics
  • Upping your potassium intake

So many of us are trying to lose weight and even just dealing with the bloating is a great start in the right direction. If you have any other tried and tested ways for dealing with bloating, please let me know in the comments below! I always love hearing from you!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

50 Responses

50 Responses

  1. I am so disappointed because I took my child to see an endocrinologist to address my daughter P.C.O.S. and they immediately wanted to place her on Metphormine…NO BUENO. I am not an advocate for medication, but I am certainly troubled when she hasn’t been diagnosed with Diabetes. This website is will definitely help me in guiding her through her stomach pains that she seems to experience and limited bowels or menstrual. In the meantime, I will give her the spearmint tea and look for another doctor.

  2. Great post but I think its important to mention not to up potassium if women are taking spironolactone which is a medication often used to treat PCOS symptoms. its a potassium sparing diuretic so too much potassium on this medication can be very dangerous!

    1. Hi Everyone.
      I hope you are doing well and on speed with to beat PCOS.
      Since 2 months I have been taking 2 glass of celery juice early morning before I eat anything. It helps me to get rid of toxins in my body ,it helps me with swelling body, bloating from previous day and for some reason I feel light and I have more energy. . See if this works for any one if you. It doesn’t taste very good but the advatages outstands it.

      Kind regards

  3. Hi there, I’ve had pcos for 20yrs now. Was always on evra patches and they worked well for me. Sadly 5yrs ago I formed a blood clot in my calf and was taken off all medication due to now being at high risk of forming another. Since then I’ve gained a lot of weight, from size 8 to a 14. It’s now uncontrollable. I’m constantly bloated and constipated and lucky to empty my bowels fort nightly. I’ve had many things to help with the bloating over the years like supplements, lots of fruit and veg diets, yogurts, high fibres diets and laxatives it seems as though nothing works to keep things moving anymore. I exercise at the gym everyday and still no regular movement. Anyone else have this problem worsen like your body is just so immuned to everything that once used to work?

    1. Hello..I have suffered PCOS all my life and have the same issues you described.. I found that stool softeners worked against me.. however, after all the same trials you described.. I found the answer! I take dried apricots!!! They dont go bad and are readily available inexpensively.. they work well and fairly quickly.. one or two a day and you will naturally pass bm and gas .. chew them well.. and that is it!!! No more constipation.. initially if you are backed up.. you may need 2 to 3 till clear.. and then as your personal needs dictate. They saved my life.. and no matter what fruit you eat or hiw much.. only the dried apricots work.
      Also, a naturally occurring in the body, supplement ‘inositol” is an alternative to taking Metformin. I am going to find this and start taking it. I have fluid retention issues and pray that this will be my alternative! Best of luck!! No more constipation!! Just try it.. promise it is much better and tastes great!!❤

  4. My daughter was diagnosed with PCOS last year. She just moved back home and looked like she was 6 months pregnant. I have started her on Simple Organic brand of ginger and green tea. Almost a week later, her stomach is half the size now and she said that she feels so much better. She was extremely bloated.

  5. Hi so I was being treated for candida/ gluten intolerece for the past four months before I finally got the proper diagnosis of pcos last week, and I was doing exactly this minus the spearmint tea and it didn’t change anything for me.. actually experienced worse symptoms for pcos in the end. Not sure what to do next! Hopefully the drugs work…(although I’m anti drugs). Best wishes

  6. Hi i was diagnosed with PCOS last year on May 2015 then my OBy ask me to take metformin and provera for 4 months..it is really hard because it caused too much but it was successful then i came back to my doctor with my TVS result then my right side ovary is normal but the left side still has a cyst but it did get smaller.and now 4 months later i stopped using provera cause my mestrual cycle is not normal again coz’ i take the provera not on the right date so my doctor ask me to wait for my period and take a contraceptive pills after my 3rd day period but then 4 months later i still did not have my period so i didnt take any pill yet then now i feel so bloated and looked lik a 6months pregnant.does bloated tummy moving inside the body?

  7. Hi ladies my name is Jeanette and my problem is I have PCOS and chronic pancreatitis its hereditary. I was wondering if any ladies out there have both of the same things that I have? I actually self-diagnosed myself with PCOS it took me 6 years to do it and 60 doctors!! But I was the one who finally figured it out!!and I was correct with my diagnosis but that is really bad that it took that many doctors to figure out what was wrong with me! so I was hoping to find someone else that had the same problems that I do. I cannot handle the weight issues any longer I’m afraid to eat because of my pancreas and because of PCOS. I would greatly appreciate any advice you might have for me! Good luck to the rest of you ladies out there! You’re all in my thoughts and prayers. Also to all the other advice that any of you ladies have given I will definitely be trying and I appreciate the advice thank you so very much! right now I am very swollen in my hands, leggs & feet. this happens often. Oh & I just got officially diagnosed with PCOS probably 3 months ago she started me on Metformin I’ve been taking that for a month and 1 week. Sorry I m all over the place.Thanks again ladies! & God bless each & everyone one of you!! 🙂

    1. Hello.. Dried apricots will help alleviate gas and constipation for sure.. one to 2 a day.. also inositol is a supplement that is naturally occurring in the body and better than Metformin (should you not do well on Metformin) Cinnamon capsules help regulate blood sugars also!! Skin issues can he helped by using Witchhazel as astringent and epilator or no no type thing for facial hair etc has helped me very much, Bless you!! PCOS has been debilitating.. but not so much now.

  8. hi. i discovered i have a pcos when i was 21yrs old. I experience iregular menstration ever since before. However, im not over weight. all my lab test are okay except of delayed menstration. Does have any posibility i will become pregnant despite of my condition right now?thanks

    1. I have always had PCOS and rarely menstruated but got pregnant once. You can have Doctor assist with clomid or other means if need be. Best

    2. Hi, yes you can still get pregnant as long as your ovulating. I have pcos and was diagnosed after having my second child. I wondered why it took me longer to conceive compared to others. I also have irregular periods and sometimes I don’t get them. My OB ran some test and told Me that even though I don’t get periods sometimes I still ovulate and that’s why I can conceive but it does take a long time. For me I had to lose a lot of weight before I can even get pregnant with each of my kids. So good luck I hope that answers your questions.

      1. Hi am 43 and been trying for two year’s to conceive but no joy.I ovulate as am on my period now am I too old to conceive now x

        1. It’s not too late, Susan. Women with PCOS tend to have a higher ovarian reserve which means that we can be fertile for longer than women without PCOS. Don’t give up!

    3. Yes you can still get pregnant, it may take you longer. Not be overweight helps also. I have 2 children and PCOS. I was a healthy weight each time I became pregnant. I did gain alot while pregnant! Acne was also pretty awful! It did take more time to loose the weight afterwards but its completely possible. I was also 26 for my first 28 for my second. My doctor explained that it was best to have my children in my 20’s because pcos can make conception difficult and you are most fertile in your 20’s. Good luck to you

  9. I have PCOS and known I have for 15 years, 8 of these years I was on metformin which at the time was a fairly new concept in the UK I had three babies in 5 years so it was to me a miracle as I just didn’t ovulate naturally. Once my family was complete I stopped taking it and my hormones went wild and had the heaviest periods imaginable, so I am now back on metformin and it’s just not working for me this time round, I have ovulated i know that much as I felt it and and had all the symptoms but since then I am so bloated regardless of what I eat, I haven’t lost any weight which isn’t the end of the world as my BMI is fine but I would like to get off 1/2 stone. I drink loads of water go the the gym 5 times a week but I look 6 months pregnant, I am scared to eat so I am eating very little incase it bloats me further. I am miserable, do you think I could be not eating enough? I don’t eat carbs generally- salads, chicken, youghurt fruit is my preferred diet I just dont know what else to try 🙁

  10. I’m 19 yrs old I’ve pcod
    n Hypothyroidism I often experience stomach pain is this bcoz of pcod

  11. Hi,
    I diagonized with PCOD 6 months back.
    Im 25 years old and married 2 years back, We are trying for baby from 2 years and its not successful.
    Now doctor suggested me to take Ovacare tablet and even now the result is successful.
    What are the possibilities and what should i do now
    thanks again

    1. My fertility specialist put me on the diabetic drug Metformin. It regulated my periods, I began ovulating and about 7 months later got pregnant. I also dieted and exercised at the Drs recommendation. I cut my carbs and ate lots of vegetables.

    1. My are becoming more on tract after getting on birth control.My dr recommended the pill for estrogen. Its also important to take care of yourself in every aspect such as diet, exercise, sleep well, and manage stress.

    2. Hi Sara, I”m 41 and recently got way over weight and got real sick. I started reading online learning how to balance my hormones and this has worked for me. I’m drinking avocado smoothie in the mornings. Recipe- Avocado, banana, blueberries, walnuts, almonds, spinach, 1% milk and water, I sometimes use skinny syrup or monk fruit.. just a bit though. I’ve seen a huge difference! Prayers!

    1. @baban sidu….i’ve had pcos from a very young age as well. Bloating will not interfere with pregnancy or your chances of you becoming pregnant. It all depends on your hormone levels. I find working out, eating more veggies, and reducing sugar intake helps greatly. Plus, dropping a few pounds helped regulate my cycle.

  12. Hello,my names sophie i have recently found out that i have got pcos, about 5/6 months ago. It is absolutely horrible, ive never been the same since. Im only 19 years old, 20 in January, I haven’t had a period for 3 months and im bloated all the time! I didnt even know pcos caused this but now i know I will definitely be changing my diet. So thank you very much for this article, its made me understand alot more then

  13. hi i am ivjot singh i have constipation problm and gas because this problem i have swollen in my abdomen inthe upper part of the stomach so plse tell me what i do for that i shall b very thankfull to you please reply

    1. I would suggest taking out gluten and dairy, if you already have then try a probiotic maybe. First, go to your Dr. they are the ones that know you best.

  14. Just seems like there is problem after problem with PCOS. I hate it so much! I actually look like I’m 9 months pregnant with how bloated my stomach is 🙁 Definitely going to try spearmint tea from now on though 🙂

    1. Yes I’ve had the awkward moments on the train where people look at my stomach and ask if I want a seat, So embarrassing. Someone asked me if I was pregnant and I said “no I’m just fat!”

    2. I truly know what you mean if it ain’t one thing it’s another I was diagnosed with PCOS I think I was about 3 months ago and before you know I didn’t know what was going on I was just having a really heavy period I actually wouldn’t stop bleeding I’m bleeding stop light 5 minutes to go to the bathroom problem at the problem with it and I cannot take it anymore I wish the doctors come up with something. From what I am reading a lot of women are having a lot of different problems and I don’t know this is sad that they can’t do more research and look into this and you know I think they are doing research on it I hope they are because I’m just like so depressed I don’t feel I just feel so I don’t remember the last time I haven’t wore a pad I’m so sad

  15. I found a delicious, low sugar and low calorie sparkling probiotic drink called Kevita. If you are REALLY trying to avoid dairy or just don’t like yogurt this might be worth a try. So far I like their Mojito flavor and am trying mango coconut next. BTW Kevita is also certified organic, Non-GMO, low Calorie (10 calories per 8oz serving), gluten free, dairy free, vegan and NO SUGAR ADDED 🙂 Yaay for whole foods! Hope this info was helpful and best wishes.

  16. I was told I had PCOS at the age of 19!! i’m 21 now and for the passed year my symptoms have been getting WAY worse. Bloating is one my issues, and I did not know that PCOS caused bloating!! now I know and I will understand when I bloat out like a boat!

  17. It’s been a relief to find this. I have a bloating popping sensation in my ovaries all the time and never even made the connection it was related to PCOS. Finally googled the connection tonight on the off chance. Thank you! Off to buy some spearmint tea…

  18. Is anyone else’s bloat down low like someone is slowly inflating your ovaries until they are about to POP?!

    1. I experienced that today that is how I found this website. The pain was so bad in my lower abdomen I had to leave work. I feel like I am so full of gas I could explode and I had a lot of pressure near my ovaries.

  19. Hi Tarryn,

    Will drinking spearmint tea good for me? I and husband are now trying. ( on our 3rd month after taking off my pills last December ) I’m drinking metformin 3 times a day as well. folic acid and vitamin e once a day each.

    Appreciate your advise.


  20. Hi Tarryn,

    First of all many congratulations on arrival of your second baby…

    From a long time, wanted to ask you this question…from where do you buy a spearmint tea in UK???shop or online? ???

    Appreciate your advice.


  21. Thanks Tarryn for this great information. Does Peppermint tea have the same testosterone regulating properties as spearmint tea? Peppermint tea seems to be more readily available.

  22. This is such a great post! I have taken a probiotic in the past and noticed an HUGE difference. It helped me feel less bloated, and helped ease constipation. I’m sure this is something I could research and ask my OB, but do you know if taking a pribiotic is safe during pregnancy?

  23. Dear Tarryn

    Thank You very . This site was very helpful to me &
    reduced my weight according to your advices.
    thanks again

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