Every 28 days or so, it’s always the same thing; sore boobs, feeling ratty, the odd breakout, the need for cake and that heavy feeling. That heavy feeling, where you just feel like you’re weighed down by a two-ton anchor, and you’re not quite sure how those jeans, that were fine yesterday, suddenly feel a bit on the tight side! Yes, it time for that period bloating. Urgh!
What is period bloating?
It’s very common and is one of the many PMS symptoms that women can experience. Joyous! But essentially, bloating is just a fancy way of saying water retention.
All this serves to make us feel heavy, uncomfortable and definitely not sexy. And if that weren’t enough, some women also get a swollen belly.
This bloating can also affect your gut function, so in the build-up to your period, you may find yourself constipated, which also makes you feel heavier.
Why does this happen?
One word darlings, hormones! Of course, it’s hormones, what else?
That bloating feeling begins about a week before your period, which falls in the luteal phase of your cycle. During this phase, the lining of your uterus thickens, just in case there’s a fertilised egg, but more importantly, the levels of the sex hormones, progesterone and oestrogen, are fluctuating.
It is believed, that these changing levels of the sex hormones are the most likely cause of the body retaining more water, leading to that bloated feeling.
How long does period bloating last?
Although it may feel like forever, it’s not.
Nine times out of ten, bloating will start anything up to a week before your period is due and go soon after your period starts.
Uncomfortable, yes, but as long as you can still live your life normally, and it occurs around the time of your period, you don’t need to visit your doctor or worry.
If, however, you do have severe bloating that affects how you live your life, or it doesn’t disappear after your period has finished, then it’s always good to get it checked out.
How can I reduce period bloating?
Thankfully, there are a few things you can try to reduce bloating. As with most things, no one remedy will work for everyone, so it’s best to try and see what works best for you.
Here are five lifestyle modifications you can try:
What? Surely the last thing you want to do when your body is retaining water is to drink more of the stuff?
Well, yes, actually. Weirdly, staying hydrated by drinking more water is thought to improve kidney function and, as a result, flush the additional water out of your system.
The body retains water when it feels like it’s not getting enough, so in the build-up to your period, up that water intake.
OK, so it’s the last thing you actually feel like doing when you’re bloated and pre-menstrual, but regular exercise helps with all PMS symptoms, not just bloating. Ideally, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week, that’s about 20 minutes each day.
Exercise helps improve blood circulation and, of course, increases those happy hormones. It also helps improve your digestive system and reduce constipation.
But what type of exercises work?
A simple brisk walk can work wonders. Not only does it elevate your heart rate and get that blood pumping, but I find the fresh air helps clear the cobwebs from my mind, which makes me feel calm and energised.
Swimming is another good form of exercise, pre-period.
And there are a couple of really good Yoga exercises that can specifically help with bloating.
- Seated twist
- Deep belly breathing
Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake
Both caffeine and alcohol help to dehydrate your body, which increases your risk of bloating.
If you need the taste of coffee in the morning, try switching it to a decaffeinated version. Or, if you need that caffeine hit, try a drink with less caffeine in it, such as tea.
And if you can’t do without that gin and tonic after a full day trying to juggle working from home, home life and maybe even a touch of home-schooling thrown in for good measure, why not switch to a lower alcohol version?
Avoid salty foods
Too much salt increases your risk of bloating because your body will feel more dehydrated due to the salt and retain more water. It’s a vicious cycle, especially at the time of the month you most want a packet of crisps!
Foods high in salt include processed foods, anchovies, smoked meat and fish, cheese, pizza, fries, tacos, savoury snacks, salad dressings and ketchup.
This also includes avoiding refined carbohydrates. Yes, it’s time to step away from the cakes and bread.
Sometimes it is difficult to avoid salty foods altogether, so try actively reduce the amount instead. After all, you don’t want to spend hours reading labels!
Eat more potassium-rich food
Increasing the amount of potassium in your diet can help decrease the sodium levels, which, in turn, increases urine production. This means it may help ease period bloating.
Potassium-rich foods include dark green leafy vegetables, bananas, sweet potato, melon, cucumber, tomatoes and avocados.
You may not be able to avoid period bloating, but there are definitely some things you can try to help ease the discomfort.
Until next time darlings.