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What is Fluttering in Stomach and Causes

Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

What is Fluttering in the Stomach?

It is a feeling of spasm or some sort of a palpitation. It leaves you feeling disturbed and uncomfortable, especially if the fluttering is severe. Most of the time, a fluttering of the stomach does not denote any serious health issues.

However, if the fluttering in the stomach is severe and happens periodically, then it could indicate a serious underlying medical condition. (1, 2)

A fluttering in the stomach is a feeling or a sensation of butterflies in the stomach image photo picture

Image 1: A fluttering in the stomach is a feeling or a sensation of butterflies in the stomach.
Picture Source: www.girlschase.com


A fluttering in the stomach is oftentimes a sign of pregnancy image photo picture

Photo 3: A fluttering in the stomach is oftentimes a sign of pregnancy.
Picture Source: cdn.thehealthyapron.com


A fluttering in stomach in early pregnancy usually takes place. In fact, it is one of the presumptive signs of pregnancy. How early can you feel flutters? It is usually felt within six to 12 days post ovulation.

What do flutters feel like when you are pregnant? It feels like a group of butterfly is released in the stomach. From a medical standpoint, a stomach flutter due to pregnancy is called quickening. (1, 2)

Emotional stress

A stomach flutter could indicate that you are under great deal of stress. The body is a sensitive temple. It responds to critical and emotional situations and a stomach flutter is one of the body’s ways of telling you that it is stressed out.

Fluttering in upper stomach is most likely common if you are anxious or afraid. It is the reason why you feel butterflies in your stomach when you are asked to speak in front of many people or when you see the person you love for the very first time. It is the same flutter you feel when you are going out on a date. It is just normal and a temporary feeling. (3, 4)

Gastrointestinal problems

A stomach flutter that occurs periodically could be a sign of gastro-related problems. It could be caused by your diet such as too much intake of fried and greasy/fatty foods, foods high in processed sugar, and intake of spicy foods.

It could also be linked with a more serious gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In layman’s term, the condition is referred as spastic colon. The patient describes a feeling of contraction of muscles of both small and large intestines.

If the stomach flutter is accompanied by fever, gastric upset, nausea, and other alarming symptoms, then it could indicate a more serious health condition such as diverticulitis. It could also be linked with a bowel obstruction. (3, 4, 5)

Poor nutrition

The body needs to be properly nourished for it to function the way it supposed to. Sometimes a stomach flutter is the body’s way of telling you that it lacks nutrition or just simply in a state of dehydration. Anything unusual in the body can be easily felt by the stomach.

An abdominal spasm should not be taken lightly. It could be of a simple cause, but it can also indicate a serious medical condition. A dehydration or malnutrition could increase the possibility of small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

If not handled properly could lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency and electrolyte imbalance. A vitamin deficiency, especially vitamin B12 deficiency is the culprit for pernicious anemia. Lack of vitamin D could lead to metabolic bone disease and lack of vitamin A could lead to night blindness. (5, 6)

Ovarian cancer

A stomach flutter that has been going on for so long and accompanied by other alarming symptoms such as decreased appetite, bloating, and extreme abdominal pain can be a presumptive sign of ovarian cancer. It is not always the case, but could be a potential cause.

Which is why it is important to consult your doctor if you feel anything unusual in your body.

Muscle twitching

A fluttering in the stomach in men, especially the left lower side of the abdomen could indicate a muscle twitching. Most of the time, it is just a normal phenomenon, especially after intense exercise. However, you need to check your pulse rate.

If your pulse rate is more than 100 beats per minutes along with stomach flutter, then you need to consult your doctor.


A stomach flutter can be a result of starvation. There are natural enzymes and gastric juices in the stomach. They aid in the digestion of foods.

However, if there is no food to digest, these enzymes and juices can harm the wall and lining of the stomach thereby causing abdominal flutter.

Bacterial and viral infection

A fluttering in the stomach could be an infection of a bacterial or a viral source. Other confirmatory symptoms include nausea with or without vomiting, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, and chronic diarrhea. The common reason for bacterial infection include drinking and eating contaminated food and water. (5, 6, 7, 8)

Causes of stomach flutter – Location wise

A fluttering in the stomach can also affect men, although it is more common in women image photo picture

Image 3: A fluttering in the stomach can also affect men, although it is more common in women.
Picture Source: userfiles.steadyhealth.com

Lower abdomen

It is commonly caused by muscle spasm, which is pretty common in pregnant women. If you are not pregnant, then it could be due to bowel abnormality.

Upper abdomen

It is often associated with irritable bowel disease, emotional stress, and intense physical workout.

Left/right side of the abdomen

It is caused by twitching of the abdominal muscles secondary to a hyperactive central nervous system, muscle fatigue, and electrolyte imbalance. (7, 8, 9, 10)

What can you do to stop fluttering in the stomach?

Most cases of fluttering in the stomach are temporary and will not require any intervention at all. If you are pregnant, then expect your abdominal flutter to subside in a matter of weeks of months. It depends on individual circumstances as each pregnancy is unique.

If you are not pregnant, but still experiencing constant fluttering in the stomach, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor. If all comes out clear and you still experience fluttering in the stomach every once in a while, then you might want to do some lifestyle and diet modification. You might also want to engage in relaxing activities such as yoga and meditation. (1, 4, 5)


  1. https://www.thehealthyapron.com/fluttering-in-stomach/
  2. https://www.steadyhealth.com/medical-answers/fluttering-in-the-lower-abdomen-early-pregnancy-or-something-else
  3. http://www.tandurust.com/self-help/fluttering-in-stomach-how-to-stop.html
  4. https://www.livestrong.com/article/550128-can-you-feel-swimming-sensations-in-your-stomach-without-being-pregnant/
  5. https://www.brighterpress.com/health/stomach/fluttering-stomach-feeling-left-upper-side-pregnant/
  6. http://medicaltreasure.com/fluttering-in-stomach/
  7. http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety/symptoms/nervous-stomach-anxiety.shtml
  8. https://www.enkimd.com/fluttering-in-lower-abdomen.html
  9. https://www.healthtap.com/topics/causes-of-fluttering-in-stomach
  10. https://www.lansinoh.co.uk/advice-articles/butterflies-or-baby-kicking

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