Have you ever been blindsided by period bloating that seemed to pop up out of the blue? Many of us ladies know how it feels to sail through the month feeling pretty great physically, then WHAM! We’re suddenly hit with bloating, cramps, and crazy weight gain. We look down in dismay to see that we’re spilling over the tops of our jeans like a tube of biscuit dough that’s partially popped open.
By now, most of us have figured out that these symptoms seem to coincide with our periods. Period bloating is an unfortunate reality for many of us ladies. It’s often accompanied by temporary weight gain, breast tenderness, and menstrual cramps. The good news is that bloating during period time doesn’t usually last longer than a week. The even better news is that there are things we can do to minimize our period bloating symptoms! Here’s what every woman should know about period bloat, what causes it, and what you can do when you experience bloating.
Understanding What Bloating During Period Really Is
Period bloating may seem like some kind of dark magic that makes you gain 2-5 pounds of weight overnight. But once you understand the mechanisms behind it, you’ll realize it isn’t as mysterious or sinister as you think. Occasional bloating (not related to your menstrual cycle) often occurs as a result of excess gas and disturbances in digestion. Some people find that certain foods always cause them to become bloated afterward.
But period bloating is a little bit different from regular diet-related bloating. For most women, that unmistakable period-related bloated feeling usually happens a few days before menstruation. It is a common PMS symptom that can sometimes cause discomfort and embarrassment. Some women only experience minimal bloating, while others may get so bloated that they find themselves wearing sweats and yoga pants because they can’t fit into their jeans until the bloating subsides.
So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of what causes period weight gain and bloating. It turns out the same primary culprits are responsible for your menstrual bloating, period cramps, menstrual bleeding, and other fun monthly symptoms. That’s right, your hormones (including estrogen and progesterone) are primarily to blame for that sloshy way your belly feels right before and at the beginning of your period.
Estrogen can cause bloating in the days leading up to your period by telling your body to retain more salt and water than usual. As your body holds onto more water, it can make you feel a little bit like the Stay Puft marshmallow guy. Fluid retention can also make you gain weight, which is why you may want to avoid stepping on the scale for a week or so. In fact, just hide that scale in the closet or garage until bloating season is officially over. You’ll be glad you did.
As busy as estrogen is before your period, she doesn’t like to work alone. That’s why she has her trusty sidekick, progesterone, to help her beef up your belly bloat. In the days before your period, progesterone levels decrease sharply. This can cause your digestive system to slow down, which can cause food to get backed up in your digestive tract and contribute to abdominal bloating. Incidentally, the drop in progesterone can also cause constipation and cramps. Good times. A few days into your cycle and afterward, your body continues to go through progesterone and estrogen hormonal changes that eventually cause bloating, period pain, and other monthly cycle symptoms to subside. That’s why you probably feel a boost in mood, confidence, and energy after your period ends.
When It’s Time to Consult a Doctor
While premenstrual bloating is nothing to be too concerned about, it’s important to be able to differentiate between normal bloating as a premenstrual symptom and potentially serious causes of bloating. Here are a few indications that you should consult a doctor about your period bloating.
- Your bloating is accompanied by severe abdominal cramps, gas, diarrhea, constipation (or a mixture of the two). If you experience these symptoms regularly, not just as part of your premenstrual syndrome symptoms, then you may be dealing with irritable bowel syndrome.
- You have monthly bloating, but you also experience an abnormally heavy menstrual flow, very painful cramps that spread throughout the abdomen and lower back, pain during intercourse or bowel movements, and painful urination when you’re on your period. These are all common symptoms of endometriosis.
- You experience painful period and bloating symptoms, but you also feel a burning sensation when you urinate or have pink or red-tinged urine. These are symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
These are all potentially serious conditions that can cause bloating, abdominal pain, and other unpleasant symptoms. For those of us who experience these symptoms, it’s wise to talk to a doctor right away.
Beat the Bloat
Now that we know what causes us to puff up every month, it’s time to talk about what we can do to beat the bloat. Here are a few effective remedies you can try for relieving the bloating:
- Avoid salty foods and refined carbohydrates in the days leading up to your period
- Try natural diuretics (such as watermelon, spinach, garlic, and cucumber) to help you maintain normal bowel movements before and during menses.
- Eat potassium rich foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, mushrooms, oranges, and cooked broccoli before and during your period. Birth control can help stabilize irregular periods and minimize bloating and other period-related symptoms.
- Drink lots of water (yes, water retention contributes to period bloat, but your body is more likely to flush the water out when you’re drinking a lot of it). Dehydrating yourself in an attempt to get rid of bloating is unhealthy, dangerous, and will only make your body hold onto water even longer.
- Use a birth control pill if it makes sense for you. Birth control can help minimize many monthly symptoms, including bloating.
- Sip raspberry leaf, peppermint, chamomile, or ginger tea. These ingredients can all help minimize period bloating and other period symptoms.
- Balance your hormones. When hormones get completely unruly, they can cause all your period symptoms to get worse. Eating a balanced diet is essential, but that may not be enough if we don’t know which foods target our hormones’ natural release. For those of us who need to take back control and get our hormones back into balance, supplements such as Hertime Daily and Hertime Complete Care can help us feel like our normal selves again. Think of Mixhers like your fairy Godmother; we wave our nutritional magic wand and zap your hormone levels into place. The supplements provide the essential micronutrients our bodies may be missing, even when eating a well-balanced diet. These carefully crafted formulas use nature’s most female-loving ingredients to alleviate period symptoms and give us all the benefits of balanced hormones.
In addition to these remedies, it’s also important to take care of our bodies all month long. This may mean making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier to minimize inflammation in our bodies and exercising regularly to keep our cardiovascular system strong and our mental health even stronger. While changing our lifestyles can seem daunting at first, it becomes easier over time. The key is consistency and self-love.
When we love and care for our bodies by living as healthily as we can and balancing our hormones, our bodies will love us back by giving us gentler periods and increased energy throughout the month. Hertime Daily can help all of us women on our missions to treat our bodies right and reduce bloating, cramps, and other common symptoms associated with our menstrual cycles.