Missed Period and Gassy Stomach: What You Need to Know

While it may cause your heart to race, missing your period doesn’t always mean you’re pregnant. Lifestyle, age, and health factors can cause your body to “skip” a menstrual cycle.

In addition to keeping track of your missed period, take notice of other symptoms you may be experiencing, like a gassy stomach. If pregnancy is ruled out, other symptoms will help give you and your healthcare provider an accurate diagnosis.

This article will explore two common signs of early pregnancy as well as other causes of a gassy stomach and missed periods.

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Symptoms of Pregnancy

A pregnancy test (blood or urine) or ultrasound are the only ways to find out for sure whether or not you’re pregnant. But there are a few common signs of early pregnancy you can look out for before taking a test.

Missed Period

The average menstrual cycle is about 25 to 30 days long. That marks the time between the first day of your last period to the first day of your current (or supposed to be) period. For some people, cycles can be as short as 21 days or longer than 35 and range from month to month.

A missed period means you’ve gone a full cycle without bleeding. A late period means your period occurred but is off from its usual cycle and does not indicate pregnancy

Consider taking a pregnancy test if you’ve passed the longest menstrual cycle you usually have. For example, if your cycles range from 30 to 35 days, you may consider taking a test on day 36.

Stomach Gas

Abdominal bloating can be caused by a range of things, such as high-fiber foods, eating too fast, as well as more serious conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. Bloating can also point to early pregnancy. 

An uncomfortable or extended belly during early pregnancy is different than showing. Pregnancy hormones can cause changes in your gastrointestinal tract, leading to belching, burping, gas, and constipation

When you're pregnant, a rise in progesterone causes your intestines to slow down. This can create a backup leading to trouble passing bowel movements too. In fact, between 11% and 38% of pregnant people experience constipation.

Exercise, drinking plenty of water, and eating high-fiber foods can be helpful during this time. If none of those provide relief, talk to your healthcare provider for additional measures such as medication.

Pregnancy Symptoms

Besides a missed period and bloating, additional pregnancy symptoms include increased basal body temperature, morning sickness, breast soreness, fatigue, cravings, mood swings, and more.


Additional Causes

If you’ve taken a test and pregnancy is ruled out, there are some medical conditions that are related to a missed period and a gassy stomach. 

Amenorrhea is a medical term for absent periods when there is no pregnancy. It’s defined as missing three periods in a row (if you usually have regular menstrual cycles) or none for more than six months if your periods are irregular.

Here are some lifestyle factors, health issues, medications, and natural causes that can point to a missed period.

Ectopic Pregnancy

In a healthy pregnancy, a fertilized egg travels through a fallopian tube to the uterus, where it implants into the uterine lining. When the egg implants elsewhere, it is called an ectopic pregnancy.

During an ectopic pregnancy, you are considered pregnant and will cease menstruation. (A pregnancy test taken at this time will show a positive result.) But ectopic pregnancies are life-threatening and cannot grow into a healthy baby because of improper implantation of the fertilized egg.

Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are usually similar to a healthy pregnancy, such as missed periods but often come with other symptoms like vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, shoulder pain, dizziness, or fainting.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause is the time of hormonal transition before menopause. Most women begin noticing perimenopausal symptoms in their 40s, with the average age being 47 years old.

Natural symptoms of perimenopause include lighter, heavier, more frequent, or less frequent periods.

Menopause

Menopause is when your ovaries have naturally stopped producing the hormones that drive ovulation and menstruation. 

The average age of menopause is 51 years old and is diagnosed definitively when you have missed your period for 12 consecutive months. But most women begin missing periods well before that.

Intestinal Gas

Gas in the intestinal tract is perfectly normal. Most people will pass gas throughout the day in the form of flatulence or belching.

Excessive gas that leads to bloating, abdominal pain, or feeling full may need further medical attention. Some causes of excessive intestinal gas are diet, food allergies or intolerances, or swallowing excess air.

Anorexia

People who have anorexia (very low caloric intake) or who burn far more calories with exercise than what they consume may experience amenorrhea. After a certain amount of body fat, you may not have the hormone production to sustain your periods. Typically, weight gain will help your periods return.

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder and depression can also cause menstruation to temporarily cease. Amenorrhea caused by chronic stress and depression is called hypothalamic amenorrhea.

As cortisol levels rise in response to stress, the hypothalamus, an organ in the brain that plays an important part in regulating the reproductive system, stops sending signals to the ovaries to do their job.

Ovarian Cysts

Ovarian cysts are common fluid-filled sacs, similar to blisters, that form on the ovaries. Most types of ovarian cysts are harmless and go away without any treatment. Others can cause more serious conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Symptoms of ovarian cysts include delayed, irregular, or unusually painful periods as well as a sense of bloating or pressure in the lower abdomen.

Ovarian Cancer

While far less common than some of the conditions listed above, bloating can be linked to ovarian cancer.

Most people notice abdominal bloating and swelling that occurs on a daily basis, worsening during the premenstrual period or after eating a large meal. This type of bloating may vary in degree from mild to severe and can worsen with time. 

Signs of early-stage ovarian cancer are often subtle and vague, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for.

Other Causes

How to Prevent Irregular Periods and Stomach Gas

Monitoring your cycle with a cycle tracking app, journal, or thermometer will keep you informed of subtle or major changes.

Cycle tracking is especially useful if you’re trying to get pregnant. It can indicate when you are most fertile (ovulating) and if you’re late. It’s also an attractive habit for those looking for an extra layer of security against pregnancy. 

Managing stress and eating a balanced diet can help regulate your cycle and other important functions like digestion. Consider getting a food allergy test to reduce the occurrence of stomach gas.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you miss a period, the first thing to do is take a pregnancy test. If it’s positive, and you were planning to get pregnant, you should visit your healthcare provider to start your preconception health plan.

If it’s negative and you want to be sure, or you’re experiencing other symptoms, seeing a healthcare provider is never a bad idea. They will begin a basic evaluation such as asking you about your medical history, doing a pelvic exam, and taking blood samples to check your hormone levels.

Summary

Missing a period every once in a while is not cause for concern. A pregnancy test can put your mind at ease and help diagnose the cause of your irregular cycle. You should see a healthcare provider if you miss more than one period, or your missed period is accompanied by new or unusual symptoms like stomach gas. In this case, there may be underlying conditions, like ovarian cysts or perimenopause.

A Word From Verywell

It's normal to get butterflies when your period is late, whether you're trying to conceive or trying not to. A missed period can be the first sign that something is out of the ordinary. Seeing your healthcare provider is always a good idea if you notice other unusual symptoms. Menstruation is one of the most powerful ways your body communicates.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many days late can a period be before worrying about pregnancy?

    Don’t start worrying until you’ve passed the longest menstrual cycle you usually have. For example, if your cycles range from 30 to 35 days, you may consider taking a test on day 36.

  • Can skipping a period make you bloated?

    Bloating is a common premenstrual symptom, and usually occurs before mensuration. It's believed to be caused by falling hormone levels leading up to your period. It's unlikely that a missed period would cause bloating.

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