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Do You Gain Weight on Your Period? Causes and Treatment

8 mins read
Taisiia Dobrozorova
Written by Taisiia Dobrozorova on March 25, 2022
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Unimeal provides articles with trustworthy and experts-proved information. Our health content is reviewed by professional nutritionists and trainers to extract for users the most verified and medically checked data.

On critical days, women often face bloating, constipation, swelling, and weight gain. In the article, you will learn why this happens and how to prevent gaining extra pounds.

Table of content

Weight gain during menstruation is typical. Many women face this problem. On the one hand, this is entirely normal. On the other hand, it isn’t very pleasant when the usual clothes stop fastening. Why do we get fat every month, and can you do something to prevent plumping up?

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Is weight gain during your period normal?

There are no clear criteria, but most women gain 1-6 lbs (0.5–3 kg). Women’s bodies distribute these extra pounds in different ways. Some girls notice even weight distribution; some see that fat accumulates in the abdomen or, for example, the upper arms.

The weight change usually occurs at the beginning of menstruation, often even before spotting appears.

And although this symptom is typical, not everyone encounters it. A normal phenomenon is an increase in weight by no more than 2 lbs (900 grams), which goes away after periods.

This means that if weight gain (like other signs of PMS) bothers you a lot, the best option is not to try folk remedies but to see a doctor. You likely need to correct something in the body. In addition, lifestyle changes can also play a role.

The girl lies on the bed during her periods
The girl lies on the bed during her periods

Causes

Monthly menstruation is a process that confirms the female reproductive system is working smoothly. Critical days are a kind of catalyst for swelling and can have different causes.

Hormones

The level of hormones in the body is constantly changing, depending on the menstrual cycle phase. They can be either higher or lower. If the level of estrogen is too high, this can cause the body to retain more fluid. 

Progesterone also plays a role. Thus, hormones cause water retention.

Bloating

Bloating during menstruation is a condition in which a woman's stomach becomes heavy and inflated before or during periods. Bloating is also one of several symptoms of PMS that can occur 1-2 weeks before your period starts.

Again, bloating is hormone-related. Changes in progesterone and estrogen levels start menstrual bleeding and cause the body to retain more water and salt. The cells of the body fill with water, forcing bloating.

On the first day of menstruation, a woman's body accumulates the most water, and the stomach swells more.

Digestive problems

Against the background of hormonal changes in your body, digestive problems may occur. And constipation is one of them. An increase in the concentration of progesterone is to blame here. 

That’s why the intestinal walls begin to contract worse than usual.

As a result, in addition to the edema, you’re also a “lucky” one to get constipation. Taking probiotics will help solve the problem - both in the form of additional complexes (check with your doctor) and as a food component (yogurts and sauerkraut will work best).

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency is one more fatal factor. Magnesium deficiency is much more frequent than you can think of. It is absent in all refined foods.

There is usually too little magnesium in the daily diet. Products containing it are almonds, soy flour, roasted pistachios, beans, cocoa, nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc. A common reason to avoid these foods is a weight loss diet.

Skipping workouts

During critical days, many postpone training for later. Of course, if the bleeding is extreme, then sports are out of the question. However, in general, menstruation is not an obstacle to playing sports.

Firstly, it will help to remove excess water. Secondly, it contributes to the production of endorphins - the hormone of pleasure, which will also positively affect your well-being - not only physical but also emotional.

The difference in nutrition (due to cravings)

We often overeat on periods. Our appetite makes us eat tons of food (and we are not talking about broccoli). Usually, we’re swallowing up sweets and salty food. As a result, we get quite the expected effect. From the sweet, the weight begins to grow quick as a flash, and the salty provokes fluid accumulation even more.

It can be tricky but try not to overeat on ice cream and chips. Instead, eat yogurt and other protein foods. There are plenty of sugar-free diets to get you through this time. Do you want something sweet? Fruit will help. It's hard but possible.

The woman eats a lot of junk food
The woman eats a lot of junk food

Other reasons

It happens that the abdominal area can swell both before and during ovulation. In many ways, bloating during menstruation depends on the characteristics of a particular woman's body.

What could be the reason for this condition. It can happen:

  • due to the structure of the intestine;
  • during pregnancy;
  • due to the formation of uterine fibroids.

Be vigilant and note changes in the health of your body to see a doctor in time.

How to prevent weight gain & bloating

You can do a few things before your period starts to help prevent weight gain. For instance, we would recommend you:

Lower your caffeine and alcohol levels

Drinking alcohol in the days before your periods can sharpen symptoms of PMS: swollen and sore breasts, mood swings, bloating, and gynecologists warn. 

On the other hand, coffee overstimulates the digestive tract and leads to irritation of the intestinal walls, not to mention dehydration. It causes your body to retain water. Therefore, it's better to skip the morning latte these days.

Avoid carbonated and sugary drinks

Mineral sodas may temporarily relieve the feeling of bloating, but in the end, they will lead to even more. The same goes for sugary sodas, containing artificial sweeteners. 

Instead, drink ordinary clean water - about 2 liters per day, but guided by your sense of thirst. 

These days, we advise you to have weak green tea, an infusion of mint, chamomile, and fennel seeds - they will prevent excessive gas formation.

Sleep at least 8 hours

Often, premenstrual pain, bloating and gas, and general discomfort prevent women from catching some z's. However, get to bed and do not put off sleep: after all, during these hours, your body is working to remove excess fluid from the abdomen. So, try to fall asleep around 10 pm.

Period weight gain treatment

There are ways to reduce water retention, which in turn will help relieve the symptoms of period bloating.

The girl suffering from bloating
The girl suffering from bloating

Avoid salty foods

Salt increases the amount of water that the human body accumulates. Refusal of salty foods will help solve this problem.

The American Heart Association recommends people to limit their salt intake to 1,500 mg per day. Many processed foods contain salt, so cooking at home using only fresh ingredients is one way to avoid excess salt.

Eat foods rich in potassium

Potassium lowers sodium levels and increases urine production. Thus, potassium helps to reduce water retention and manage bloating.

Potassium-rich foods against bloating include:

  • Dark leafy greens, such as spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Tomatoes

Try diuretics

Diuretic foods increase urine production. This process helps the body to remove excess water. Many foods have natural diuretic properties, such as:

  • Asparagus
  • Pineapples
  • Peaches
  • Cucumbers
  • Leek
  • Ginger
  • Garlic

You can also buy diuretics in pills. A doctor may prescribe them if you feel discomfort, and home treatments are not up to the task.

Avoid refined carbs

Refined carbs such as white flour and processed sugars cause blood sugar spikes. So, they can become your enemy. Refined carbs increase the insulin level in the blood, which causes the kidneys to retain more salt. As a result, there is again an excess of water in the body.

Be active

Don’t be shy to work out during your critical days. Regular exercise improves PMS symptoms. Bloating is a symptom of PMS, day-to-day workouts can help reduce it.

To stay healthy, people should aim for 2.5 hours of moderate training per week.

Consider taking OCP

Oral contraception is an effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy, stabilize the balance of hormones and reduce pain during periods. Medical studies have shown that OCPs reduce PMS symptoms by 50%.

The effect of a pill can vary from woman to woman, so it's best to discuss all options with your doctor and try a few different types of birth control to see which one works best for you.

When should you see a doctor?

For most women, bloating causes some discomfort but does not prevent them from performing their daily duties. However, if bloating affects your everyday life, it's worth visiting a doctor. 

If bloating does not go away after the end of menstruation, it is also worth consulting a gynecologist, as this may indicate more severe diseases.

The bottom line

Weight gain during your periods is not something you want to deal with. Unfortunately, this is a common symptom that can cause weight gain. 

But do remember, if you drink plenty of water, get off the couch, avoid salt, caffeine, and alcohol, and add diuretics to your diet, you will soon be able to say goodbye to bloating problems!

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Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

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