Why do I bloat and gain weight during my cycle?
Do your jeans start to feel a bit tighter in the days leading up to your period? Many of us may notice a slight fluctuation in weight and bloating throughout our cycles – in fact, it’s very common.
Period bloating and sometimes weight gain are unsurprisingly just other symptoms of PMS, to add to what may seem at times like an already long list! This usually occurs just before you start your period and may extend a few days into it. Around 70% of us experience bloating as a PMS symptom, so if you do feel a little more puffy around your cycle, remember that it’s just part of the natural cycle of the womb.
Even though bloating may cause some discomfort, it’s important to realise that this physical change is temporary and tends to ease off during, or as soon as you start your period. In the meantime, read on to find out exactly why it happens, along with some tips to help relieve and reduce bloating.
What causes period weight gain and bloating?
As with most side effects relating to your period, weight gain and/or bloating is caused by a change in hormones which occurs around 5 days before you start your period.
As your hormonal balance varies throughout your menstrual cycle, so does this bloated feeling, meaning that these symptoms usually go away during the first few days of your period. If you are constantly feeling bloated or have a swollen abdomen, you should always check in with your doctor for a medical opinion.
How oestrogen and progesterone can cause bloating and weight gain?
An increase in oestrogen occurs in the days leading up to your period, which causes your body to retain more water and salt. The added water retention swells the cells in your body, and this sometimes results in some minor weight gain along with the feeling of being bloated and slightly puffy. Equally, a decrease in progesterone which occurs just before your period can also slow down your digestive system and cause bloating. Low progesterone can also cause diarrhoea; this is another great example of how everyone’s body reacts differently, so it’s really just a matter of getting to know and understanding your own body!
What are some remedies to help relieve the bloating and weight gain?
Even though the bloating and weight gain around the time of your period is a temporary physical change, it’s also important to realise that any weight gain in general doesn’t change who we are as people. Rather, all our bodies fluctuate throughout our lives and it’s something we should be aware of as opposed to fear. However, if you have been advised by a health professional to watch out for any extra weight gain or if the sensation of bloating makes you feel uncomfortable or affects your self-confidence, here are a few useful tips:
Try to avoid salty food
Even though crisps and other salty foods taste delicious, they can also increase the amount of water your body retains. Try opting for non-processed foods, or even channel your inner chef by making food yourself at home so you can control the amount of salt you add.
Stay away from refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates such as white flour, bread and pastries are not only hard to digest but they also spike your insulin levels, which causes the body to retain more water. Try swapping out refined carbohydrates for unrefined ones such as quinoa, beans and whole grain rice in the days leading up to your period. We know unrefined carbohydrates may seem like the more boring option, but you can always get creative by trying new recipes and cooking techniques!
Go bananas for food rich in potassium
Potassium-rich foods such as bananas, spinach, avocados and lentils help counterbalance the amount of sodium in your body, so are useful to relieve period bloating. So next time your belly may be feeling a bit swollen, why not snack on a banana?
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water aids your body in countless ways and it also helps to prevent period bloating! Water will not only neutralise the amount of sodium in your body, but it will also assist it in flushing out any trapped liquid which could also be contributing to your bloating.
Not a fan of water? How about lemonade?
In some cases, you may want to take a diuretic. A diuretic is basically a substance that will help you to flush out any extra water in your system by increasing the amount you pee. Some foods are natural diuretics such as lemons, cabbage, ginger and garlic, but you can also be prescribed a medical diuretic by your doctor.
Even though exercising when you’re feeling bloated or on your period may be the last thing you want to do, it can really help to get your digestive system moving and prevent bloating. Why not try a low intensity activity such as a long walk with a friend or Pilates?
Wear comfortable clothes
A constrictive waistband can cause discomfort and pain when bloated, so use the time to kick back and relax in your favourite tracksuit. This is also a fabulous excuse to stay in comfortable pyjamas all day!
So, even though some people may feel self-conscious or uncomfortable with these physical changes, it’s really not something to be worried about as it’s a common symptom of PMS, plus the feeling should subside after a few days. Also remember that it’s normal for our bodies to experience physical changes throughout our cycles; it’s sometimes just a way of them adapting to different circumstances.
Now that we’ve learned about period bloating, let’s look at more things to do with your period that you might not know about, such as what causes menstrual cramps.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.