How To Manage Period Bloating
Uwe Porters - Mid-wife / Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert
Bloating. Bleh. Not only can it make you feel uncomfortable, it can also kill your confidence if you’re feeling like your heavy, swollen belly is the centre of attention. Many women feel body conscious and some also worry that pregnancy rumours will start flying!
Period bloating is one of several PMS symptoms that women often get 1-2 weeks before their period. Some women also experience painful stomach cramps and backaches.
Is bloating something you’re simply destined to live with each month? Is there any hope?
Yes! In this post, we’re going to tell you all about bloating - why it happens and what you can do to alleviate this common PMS symptom.
What Causes Period Bloating?
Period bloating is a common condition that occurs when your belly feels full or tight before or during your period. The culprit? Research shows that bloating can be caused by changes in progesterone and estrogen levels in the lead up to your period that can cause your body to retain more water and salt. Your body’s cells become swollen with water which causes the feeling of bloating. Studies have shown that women retain the most water and feel the most bloated on the first day of their period. The guud news is that that bloat-y feeling will probably subside as you move through your cycle.
How Can You Reduce Period Bloating?
Given that bloating is such a common PMS symptom, it would be easy to assume that this is just something women have to live with each month. But we beg to differ! There are some things you can do to alleviate bloating so you can rock that tight dress with confidence no matter what phase of your cycle you’re in!
Here are a few easy things you can do that are likely to bring some relief.
Change Your Diet
It will come as no surprise that changing your diet a bit could really help alleviate bloating. The first thing to do is to try to avoid extra salt or super salty foods (Buh-bye crisps!). Since you’re already retaining water, the extra salt will only make the problem worse. Try to avoid processed foods too and focus on fuelling your body with as much fresh fruits and veggies as you can. Regarding salt, we know you can’t always avoid it completely but try not to eat any more than 1500mg/day.
Stock up on potassium rich foods like spinach, sweet potatoes, bananas and avocados. These foods can help curb bloating by reducing sodium levels and increasing urine production. You may need to pee more but this can help reduce water retention and improve that not-so-nice bloat-y feeling.
Finally, avoid refined carbs. You should limit your intake of white flour and processed sugar in general, but especially if you’re struggling with period bloating. This is because these foods spike your blood sugar levels. This, in turn, increases the level of insulin in your blood which causes your kidneys to retain more sodium. And when you retain more sodium, guess what? More water retention!
Try Some Natural Diuretics
What’s a natural diuretic we hear you say? They are foods that make you pee more. If you’re looking to alleviate period bloating, you should eat more natural diuretics like asparagus, pineapple, peaches, cucumber, leeks and ginger. These foods will help increase urine production which will help reduce water retention.
When you feel like you have a full, heavy belly, the last thing on earth you probably feel like doing is exercising, but hear us out. Studies have shown repeatedly that regular exercise can improve PMS symptoms. We’re not talking daily HIIT classes or ultra running. 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week is recommended. That’s very doable, even for the most gym-shy ladies out there!
Could Constipation Cause Bloating?
Yes! Many women notice that their pooping habits change just before and during their period and constipation is a common symptom. In the time between ovulation and when you get your period, progesterone starts to increase. Progesterone can cause food to move more slowly through your intestines and this can cause a bit of a back-up. The result? Constipation.
To learn more about how your poop changes throughout your cycle, read our blog post here.
What About Gut Health?
Your gut is super important to your overall health and wellbeing so it’s worth paying attention to. Bloating can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. When your gut is balanced, everything works better, including your menstrual cycle. That’s because your gut has a major impact on your hormones and fluctuating hormones are often the cause of premenstrual bloating.
Want to know more about your gut and your cycle? Check out our post called Happy Gut, Happy Hormones.
When to Get Help
Period bloating can be unpleasant but for most women, it doesn’t stop them from living their life. If you do find that your symptoms do not go away after your period or you have other symptoms alongside bloating, you may want to get an expert’s opinion. It could be a sign of a more serious health condition.
Still have questions? We get it. It can be hard to know what’s normal. Talk to us. One of our experts is here to listen and help you get the help you deserve.