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 women notice a slight fluctuation in weight and bloating throughout their cycle.
Period bloating and sometimes weight gain are unfortunately just other symptoms of PMS. This usually occurs just before you start your period and may extend a few days into it. But remember that around 70% of women experience bloating as a PMS symptom, so there’s no need to panic as it’s just part of the natural cycle of the womb that many people tend to experience.1
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 you may gain weight just before or during your period, along with some tips to help relieve and control 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 GP for a medical opinion.
How oestrogen causes 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.
How progesterone causes bloating
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, so it’s really just a matter of knowing and understanding your own body!
What are some remedies to help relieve the bloating?
Avoid salty food
Salty foods can increase the amount of water your body retains. Try opting for non-processed foods, or even cooking at home so you can control the amount of salt you add.
Avoid refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates 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.
Eat foods rich in potassium
Potassium-rich foods such as spinach, avocados and lentils help counterbalance the amount of sodium in your body, so are useful to relieve period bloating.
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.
Even though exercising when you’re feeling bloated or on your period may be the last thing you want to do, it will really help to get your digestive system moving and prevent bloating. Why not try a low intensity activity such as a long walk 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!
Take a diuretic
In some cases, you may want to take a diuretic. A diuretic 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 GP.
So there we have it, everything you need to know about period bloating and weight gain. 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 very common, and the feeling should subside after a few days.