Unlocking comfort and relief during your period journey requires navigating through an array of challenges, and one of the most unwelcome guests is bloating. That feeling of your clothes fitting a bit too snug or that subtle discomfort can cast a shadow over your days.
In this article, we're giving you all the information you need to know to stop period bloating immediately and to adopt better habits to keep consistency throughout your entire cycle to better not only your period bloating, but your overall health.
In this article we’ll cover the following:
What is period bloating
How long does period bloating last
How to get rid of period bloating immediately
Understanding period bloating before, during, and after your period
Knowing when it’s time to consult a doctor
What Is Period Bloating?
Period bloating may seem like some kind of dark magic that makes you gain 2 to 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. For example, you may find that you consistently feel bloated after eating certain foods like ice cream, broccoli, or beans.
But period bloating is 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.
The Science Behind Bloating During Your Period
To get more technical, PMS bloating, which also can be categorized as hormonal bloating, is a common symptom women experience leading up to and during their menstrual cycle. It turns out the same primary culprits that are responsible for your menstrual bloating are also to blame for period cramps, headaches, mood swings, and other common symptoms that accompany your monthly cycle.
Period bloating is primarily attributed to hormonal fluctuations, particularly changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, which influence fluid balance and digestion within the body.
How Estrogen Rises Affect Period Bloating
Hormones function like messengers from our endocrine system, working hard to regulate many of our body's functions. As estrogen levels rise prior to menstruation, they can lead to water retention and sodium retention, resulting in a feeling of bloating and swelling. Fluid retention can also make you gain weight, which is why you shouldn't be alarmed at all if you weigh yourself frequently and see variations around the week of your period. While it may not be a welcome change, bloating weight gain is normal and will resolve in time as part of your natural cycle.
How Progesterone Levels Affect Period Bloating
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.
While the severity of period bloating varies among individuals, understanding its physiological basis can help manage its effects and provide insights into how to stop period bloating. That’s why you probably feel a boost in mood, confidence, and energy after your period ends.
How long does period bloating last?
Period bloating typically lasts for a few days to a week, corresponding to the premenstrual phase and the early days of menstruation itself. This timeframe correlates to the hormonal changes occurring during the menstrual cycle, particularly the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone levels.
The menstrual cycle can be divided into phases: the follicular phase and the luteal phase. The follicular phase begins with the start of menstruation and lasts until ovulation, characterized by rising estrogen levels that prompt the thickening of the uterine lining. This hormonal shift can trigger fluid retention and bloating. Subsequently, during the luteal phase, which spans from ovulation to the onset of menstruation, estrogen levels decline, and progesterone levels rise. Progesterone exerts its effects on smooth muscle relaxation, which can slow down the movement of food through the digestive tract, leading to feelings of fullness and bloating.
It's important to note that the duration and intensity of period bloating can vary widely among individuals and may be influenced by factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, and overall health. While the discomfort of period bloating is temporary, recognizing its underlying hormonal basis can guide individuals in adopting strategies to alleviate its effects and enhance well-being during this phase of the menstrual cycle.
How to Get Rid of Period Bloating Immediately
Now that we know what causes us bloating during your period, it’s time to talk about how to reduce bloating during period. Here are effective remedies you can try to stop period bloating:
Practice Light Exercise
Engaging in gentle physical activity like walking can help stimulate digestion and alleviate bloating.Yoga and stretching is also a great way to move the body and relieve tension in the abdominal area and improve blood circulation, potentially reducing bloating.
Eat and Chew Slowly
Eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly can help prevent swallowing excess air, which can lead to bloating.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day rather than large meals can aid digestion and prevent excessive bloating.
Massage Your Abdomen
Here’s how you can massage your abdomen when bloating is getting the best of you:
Breathing: Take a few deep breaths to help relax your body and mind. Deep, slow breaths can also aid in releasing tension and promoting relaxation.
Starting Position: Place your hands on your abdomen, just below your ribcage. Your fingers should be pointing toward your pelvis, and your palms should be flat against your abdomen.
Gentle Pressure: Apply gentle pressure with your hands and begin to make small circular motions. Use a light touch and let your fingertips move in a clockwise direction. The clockwise motion follows the natural movement of the digestive tract.
Gradual Movement: As you massage, move your hands down your abdomen in a slow and deliberate manner. Keep your movements gentle and comfortable.
Focus on Bloating Areas: If you're feeling particularly bloated in specific areas, spend a bit more time gently massaging those regions. This can help stimulate blood flow and encourage the movement of trapped gas.
Stay Relaxed: Throughout the massage, continue taking deep breaths and focus on relaxing your muscles. The more relaxed you are, the more effective the massage can be in reducing bloating.
Duration: Aim for about 5 to 10 minutes of massage. You can repeat this process a few times a day if needed.
Finish: Once you're done, take a moment to rest and take a few more deep breaths. You can also use this time to apply a warm compress or heating pad to your abdomen for added relaxation.
Remember, an abdominal massage is meant to be gentle and soothing. If you experience any discomfort or pain during the massage, stop immediately. If your bloating persists or is accompanied by severe pain or other concerning symptoms, it's important to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.
Gentle abdominal massages can stimulate the digestive system and provide relief from bloating.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol can contribute to dehydration and exacerbate bloating, so moderating their intake might be helpful.
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.
Sip raspberry leaf, peppermint, chamomile, or ginger tea. These ingredients can all help minimize period bloating and other period symptoms. This organic, plant-based PMS supplement can be mixed with hot water to make a tea and specifically helps ease bloating and other PMS symptoms, such as menstrual cramps and mood swings. There are also a variety of yummy flavors that are great even if you’re not a tea drinker: juicy peach, pom mango, peach passion, coconut lime, strawberry lemonade, and raspberry refresher.
Incorporating a daily organic supplement is a great way to ensure you’re addressing the root cause of PMS-related symptoms — hormone imbalance — rather than just putting a bandaid on them each month.
Avoid Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated beverages can contribute to gas buildup and bloating, so it's best to opt for non-carbonated options, especially since a lot of women report being gassy before their period.
Avoid Salty Food and Refined Carbohydrates
Avoid salty foods and refined carbohydrates in the days leading up to your period. Excess salt intake can lead to water retention and bloating, and refined carbohydrates — including foods made from white flour and added sugars — have a high glycemic index. This means they cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a quick drop, leading to fluctuations in energy and mood.
Here’s a list of salty foods and refined carbohydrates to avoid:
Eat Natural Diuretic Foods
Try natural diuretics to help you maintain normal bowel movements before and during your period. Natural diuretic foods are great for fiber content, digestive health, and hydration.
Fiber Content: Many natural diuretic foods are also rich in dietary fiber. Fiber plays a crucial role in promoting healthy digestion by adding bulk to the stool and preventing constipation. When you consume foods high in fiber, they help soften the stool, making it easier to pass through the intestines and reducing the likelihood of constipation.
Digestive Health: Natural diuretic foods can provide essential nutrients and antioxidants that support digestive health. They can help regulate the gut environment and encourage the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn can contribute to regular bowel movements.
Hydration: Diuretic foods often have a high water content, which can help keep you hydrated. Proper hydration is essential for maintaining healthy bowel movements. When the body is adequately hydrated, it supports the movement of food through the digestive tract, preventing stool from becoming hard and difficult to pass.
Here’s a list of natural diuretic foods to add to your diet:
Consume Enough Potassium
Eating potassium-rich foods during your period can be particularly beneficial due to the physiological changes that occur in your body during this time. Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance, muscle function, and overall health.
Here's how potassium helps your body specifically during your period:
Fluid Balance: Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate the balance of fluids in and out of cells. Adequate potassium intake can help counteract the effects of sodium (salt) and reduce water retention, which is a common concern during the menstrual cycle. By maintaining proper fluid balance, potassium-rich foods can help alleviate bloating and swelling.
Muscle Relaxation: Potassium is essential for proper muscle function, including the muscles of the uterus. Menstrual cramps are caused by the contraction of uterine muscles. Adequate potassium levels can contribute to smooth muscle relaxation, potentially reducing the severity of cramps and discomfort.
Potassium is essential for proper muscle function, including the muscles of the uterus. Menstrual cramps are caused by the contraction of uterine muscles. Adequate potassium levels can contribute to smooth muscle relaxation, potentially reducing the severity of cramps and discomfort.
Blood Pressure Regulation: Potassium plays a role in regulating blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium. High sodium intake can lead to elevated blood pressure, which may exacerbate bloating and discomfort during menstruation. Consuming potassium-rich foods can help mitigate the impact of sodium on blood pressure, contributing to a healthier cardiovascular system.
Energy Levels: During your period, hormonal changes can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and energy fluctuations. Potassium supports proper nerve function and helps maintain the body's electrolyte balance, which can have a positive impact on energy levels and overall mood.
Here’s a list of potassium-rich foods you can add to your diet, especially during your period.
Consider Birth Control if Necessary
Take birth control if it makes sense for you. Birth control can help stabilize irregular periods and minimize bloating and other period-related symptoms. However, while birth control methods offer various benefits, they also come with potential drawbacks that individuals should consider. It's important for individuals to have informed discussions with healthcare providers to choose if birth control aligns with their health needs and lifestyle.
Address the Root Cause of PMS Symptoms by Balancing Your Hormones
Balance your hormones with natural, earth-grown supplements. Organic plant-based supplements like Hertime are made for just this. When addressing period bloating and other PMS symptoms, the most important action to take is balancing your hormones. There are a slew of remedies to get rid of period bloating fast, but if you’re not addressing the root cause, these symptoms will keep coming back.
With supplements like Hertime, you’re addressing the root cause of hormone imbalance instead of putting a temporary fix on a more serious body function. Hertime specifically provides the essential micronutrients our bodies may be missing, even when eating a well-balanced diet. The nutrients include white peony root, Chinese licorice, Siberian ginseng, dong quai root, and giant kelp leaf. Hertime’s holistic herbal supplement was created by Cody Sanders, the Co-Founder of Mixhers who has a background in Chinese Medicine.
Understanding Period Bloating Before, During, and After Your Period
Period bloating will fluctuate based on where you’re at in your cycle. Believe it or not, bloating doesn’t only happen during your period; depending on the person, bloating before, during, and after your period can take place. We’ll go through each one so you can determine which one affects you the most and what you can do to help.
Period Bloating Before Your Period
The days leading up to your period can often bring about a sense of bloating and discomfort, commonly known as premenstrual bloating. This phenomenon is closely tied to the intricate hormonal dance that characterizes the menstrual cycle. In this phase, estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall, triggering a cascade of changes within your body.
Estrogen, which surges in the first half of your cycle, can lead to water retention and sodium buildup, causing your body to hold onto fluids and resulting in a bloated feeling. Simultaneously, progesterone, which reaches its peak in the second half of the cycle, can slow down digestive processes, leading to a sense of fullness and even constipation. The combination of hormonal influences often leads to symptoms like a swollen abdomen, breast tenderness, and a general sensation of being inflated, creating an uncomfortable prelude to your period.
Period Bloating During Your Period
As your period begins, the hormonal fluctuations continue to play a role in the way your body feels, and this is particularly true in terms of bloating. While some individuals might experience a slight reduction in bloating as their period commences due to the shedding of the uterine lining, others might find that bloating persists. The hormonal changes that take place during menstruation can affect fluid balance and digestion.
Prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds released from the uterine lining, can contribute to uterine contractions and inflammation. These contractions might affect the nearby digestive organs, potentially exacerbating bloating and discomfort. Staying hydrated, eating nourishing foods, and engaging in light physical activity can help manage bloating during your period.
Period Bloating After Your Period
Following the conclusion of your period, you might notice a gradual reduction in bloating and discomfort. As your hormonal levels begin to normalize, the fluid balance in your body stabilizes, leading to a decrease in water retention. The digestive processes, which might have been sluggish due to the effects of progesterone, start to regain their regular rhythm, aiding in alleviating the sense of fullness and constipation.
It's important to remember that individual responses can vary, and some people might experience lingering bloating post-period until hormone levels completely settle. Engaging in mindful eating, prioritizing hydration, and incorporating gentle exercise can aid in managing post-period bloating. Understanding the ebb and flow of these sensations throughout your menstrual cycle can empower you to navigate the discomfort and make adjustments that enhance your overall well-being.
Knowing 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.
As you can see from the above information, there are quick fixes for period bloating, but there are also lifestyle changes you can make all month long to ensure you’re taking care of your body, which will in turn help with period bloating on a larger scale. This may be eating healthier to minimize inflammation in our bodies, exercising regularly to keep our cardiovascular system strong and our mental health even stronger, and taking a daily hormone-balancing supplement.
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 balance our hormones, our bodies will love us back by giving us gentler periods and increased energy throughout the month.
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