But it could also be a symptom of something far worse, and many women are failing to take it seriously.
Only a third of women (34%) would visit their GP if they were experiencing regular bloating, according to research from Target Ovarian Cancer, a charity campaigning to raise awareness of bloating as a symptom of ovarian cancer.
Of 1,142 women questioned by YouGov on the charity's behalf, just 392 said they would be concerned enough by regular bloating to book a doctor's appointment. A greater proportion (50%) would consider changing their diet, for instance by eating more probiotic yoghurts and fibre-heavy cereal, drinking peppermint tea or cutting out gluten.
Previous research by the charity also highlighted a worrying lack of awareness of the potential seriousness of bloating, with just 20% of women able to identify it as one of the main symptoms. This knowledge gap means women are not being sent for the correct tests quickly enough and are missing out on early diagnoses as a result, the charity said.
“A probiotic yoghurt should not be preventing a woman from visiting the GP promptly if something is worrying her," said Annwen Jones, the charity's chief executive. "Women should not be risking their lives because of the enduring awareness gap around the symptoms of ovarian cancer."
The most common ovarian cancer symptoms
The key symptoms of ovarian cancer, according to Target Ovarian Cancer, are:
• Persistent bloating (the NHS recommends contacting your doctor if you have been bloating most days for the last three weeks)
• Pelvic or abdominal pain (tummy and below)
• Feeling full (early satiety) and/or loss of appetite (always feeling full)
• Increased urgency to pee and/or frequency (needing to pee more)
Other signs include:
• Unexplained weight loss
• Unexplained fatigue
• Unexplained changes in bowel habit
11 women die from ovarian cancer every day in the UK and most women (two thirds) with the disease are only diagnosed once it has reached other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat. The moral of the story? Get to know your body and take any changes seriously.
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