For some women, ovulation is a complete non-event. It happens without much fanfare. But for others, the release of an egg can wreak havoc on the entire abdomen area. If you're able to identify your ovulation window based on the snugness of your jeans, you're probably all too aware that there can be bloating mid-cycle. But can ovulation cause gas, too? The answer is yes, but the reason why might surprise you.
To understand why you're feeling so uncomfortably bloated and gassy, it's helpful to understand a little something called mittelschmerz, or 'middle pain.' "The release of the egg is actually the rupture of a cyst, and the cyst fluid comes out into the belly cavity, and you often get a bit of blood released, which can really irritate the lining of the body cavity, and give you discomfort," explains Mary Jane Minkin, MD, OB-GYN at Yale University, in an interview with Romper.
For me, understanding that there was actually fluid oozing around in my pelvis was an 'aha' moment. Of course, there would be some bodily responses, like my belly looking swollen and feeling tender. And Dr. Minkin confirms that gas can also be a response: "Some [women] do react to the bit of fluid and blood irritating the abdominal cavity."
In addition to that abdominal irritation, there is another reason why you might be experiencing gas and GI discomfort mid-cycle, and it's thanks to a little hormone called progesterone, which is made during ovulation, explains Dr. Minkin "Some women do not feel well in what's called the "luteal phase" (progesterone present) phase."
Some effects of progesterone can include a "delayed GI transit time," which means that food moves more slowing through the digestive tract, according to Today. So that's yet another reason why you could be feeling bloated and constipated in the days proceeding ovulation.
While all of this can make you curse your cycle, there are fortunately some things you can do to make the mittelschmerz time more tolerable. Drinking plenty of water, limiting your salt intake, and trying a magnesium supplement (if your doctor approves it), may help reduce your bloating symptoms, according to Healthline.
If you're dealing with gas, you can opt to eat more ginger, an herb that helps speed digestion, which means gas can move quickly through your system, according to Everyday Health, citing a study in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Studies.
And if you're ovulation-related flatulence is just downright embarrassing, you can always opt out of ovulating altogether by getting on the pill. "An easy way to avoid ovulation is to take an oral contraceptive pill regularly (one with both estrogen and progestin). They act to prevent you from getting pregnant by suppressing ovulation," explains Dr. Minkin.
I, for one, will be cutting myself a lot more slack around days 11-14 of my cycle. After all, there's a lot going on from the waist down during that time of the month and I'm going to respect that.