The main cause is the sharp dip in progesterone right before your period starts. Changes in estrogen levels can also be counted as one of the reasons. The thing is when the body is high on estrogen, your bodies tend to retain water. The body is high on progesterone in the second half of the cycle and this is a hormone that can make for a slower digestive tract, thus leading to bloating or feeling of fullness. These hormones are also responsible for pain in the breasts during this time.
Thus, the symptoms of bloating are caused by water retention. This water retention usually increases because of the hormonal change that works during the menstrual cycle. Craving junk food that is high in salt does not help either at this time since its consumption only facilitates water retention that leads to bloating. However, it is important to note that water retention is not the only reason your bodies swell during or before periods.
Changes in hormones can affect the bowel motility in the negative causing the retention of gas. This again gives rise to a swollen abdomen. Moreover, owing to the blood flow towards the uterus, the abdomen is bound to swell to some extent. This is also one of the reasons for bloating.
- Cut Down on Foods that Cause Gas
Foods like Brussel sprouts, broccoli contain a complex sugar called raffinose. Since it cannot be broken down properly due to the paucity of enzymes, leads to gas and then to bloat. Therefore, it is only sensible to steer clear of these gassy foods like cabbage, cauliflower, beans, lentils, cow’s milk and corn in periods.
- Cut Down on Caffeine and Alcohol
Alcohol has the tendency to enhance PMS symptoms viz, mood swings, breast tenderness and bloating. And coffee overly activates the digestive tract and irritates the bowels which also leads you to dehydrate, thereby retaining water. So, refrain from drinking any of these for some time.
- Choose Protein-rich Foods and Diuretics
The safest choice during periods – proteins! These make you feel lighter on your period and helps get you rid of the bloating. Also, natural diuretics make you feel better. Foods that act as natural diuretics include:
- Choose Potassium-rich Foods
Potassium is useful in periods because it helps to promote a fine balance of fluids. Foods rich in potassium include tomatoes, asparagus, bananas, cantaloupe etc.
- Avoid Sugary or Carbonated Drinks
Beverages always make you feel better, no matter what! There is always room for them. However, the bitter truth is that they can make you feel bloated. Same is the case with sugary drinks. The artificial sweeteners are a strict no-no in periods if you want to tackle your bloating.
- Do Not Overeat Fiber
Eating as many fruits is always a good idea. But overdoing it in in your periods can actually cause you to bloat even more. This is simply because, on a regular basis, your body is not conditioned to fiber. Increasing its intake all of a sudden during periods is not going to serve you well.
- Eat Smaller Amounts at a Time
Make sure that you do not gobble your food up as it will lead to bloating. Eat fewer amounts of whatever it is that you are having. Eating more will take longer for the body to digest and the undigested food starts to ferment in your body, leading to gas. Ease up on the speed and you will not feel bloated.
- Get More Sleep
Yes, sleeping properly is a solution to your bloating problems. It is during sleep that the body repairs itself. The excess fluid is also excreted. Thus, if not given enough time, it is quite possible that extra water can be stored in your tummy, leading to bloating.
- Take an Anti-inflammatory
Since inflammation increases bloating, taking an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen can decrease its risk. Take one when you are about to have periods. It will give temporary respite from bloating.
- Make Sure to Exercise
Exercise is the solution to all problems. As you know, working out increases your blood circulation, which is quite helpful to overcome bloating. However, extreme workouts that lead to inflammation can make bloating worse. So, refrain for intense workouts.
Read for more details on foods to avoid and exercise during periods.
Trying one of the lifestyle changes mentioned in this article may help to improve period bloating. Even though it is unpleasant, period bloating is not something that can stop women from getting on with their day. However, at times the situation gets worse and it becomes important to go to a doctor.