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What Causes Bloating During Periods & What To Do About It?

Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is the most common condition felt by many females. Up to 85 percent of females experience PMS symptoms.(1) There are various symptoms associated with this condition such as physical and mood changes. Along with emotional and physical symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms are also very common.

What Causes Bloating During Periods?

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The symptoms experienced are similar to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The symptoms are:

Abdominal bloating, one of the several premenstrual syndrome symptoms, occurs 1-2 weeks before the women’s period. A female may be uncomfortable and might be negatively affected by this symptom, it also lowers the self-confidence. The women may feel that they have gained weight as their stomach is swollen and popping out. Bloating makes the abdomen feel heavy. Other accompanied symptom includes mood swings, tiredness, cramps, food craving, headache, backache, and swollen breast.

Causes of Bloating During Periods

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Changes in the level of sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone result in bloating.

A week before the periods the level of progesterone falls. These reduced level cause uterus to shed its lining which leads to menstrual bleeding.

Research suggests that this change in estrogen and progesterone level cause the body to retain water and salt.(2) The body cells become swollen with water giving a bloated feeling. The bloating worsens in the first day of the period.(3)

What Can Be Done To Reduce Bloating During Periods?

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A few lifestyle changes can help a woman reduce water retention, which in turn can relieve the symptoms of period bloating.

Avoid Salty Foods

Sodium present in salt increases water retention. Reducing the salty food intake around periods can improve bloating.

Salt intake of 1500 milligram per day is the recommended amount by American heart association.(4) Also, processed foods contain salt, therefore, it is recommended to eat only home-cooked food to avoid the excess salt intake.

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Diuretics

Diuretics increase urine production and help the body get rid of water. A doctor can give a diuretic pill but many foods also have diuretic properties, eating them can relieve period bloating. Foods which act as natural diuretic include pineapples, peaches, asparagus, leek, ginger, and garlic. You can increase their intake around the time of your period. If the bloating does not go after these natural treatments, the doctor’s pill can relieve you.

Keep Yourself Hydrated

Drinking water improves hydration and the way a person feels. Drinking plenty of water can help reduce period bloating as it reduces water retention by improving kidney function. But there are not many evidences to support it. It has a lot of other health benefits so is worth giving a try.

Regular Exercise

Just like keeping the body hydrated has a lot of health benefits. Similarly, regular exercising also serves various benefits to the body. Regular exercise can help improve the premenstrual symptoms, there is a study supporting it.(5) Abdominal bloating is a premenstrual symptom, exercise may help reduce it.

Anything that helps the body out in some way should be surely incorporated in the routine.

Avoid Refined Carbs

Refined carbs, such as white flour, processed sugar increase the sugar level. This, in turn, increases the insulin level in the blood, which leads to the retention of sodium in the kidney. Increased sodium level leads to an increase in water retention. If you want to reduce the bloating, it is important to avoid refined carbs.

Potassium-Rich Food

Potassium-rich food reduces bloating, as potassium decreases sodium levels and increase urine production.(7) This reduces water retention and improves bloating. Foods rich in potassium are the green leafy vegetables, sweet potato, bananas, tomato, and avocado.

Birth Control Pills

A study shows that birth control pills improve the period bloating.(6) Though, there are many female reporting an increase in the symptom after taking the pills.

Different bodies has a different way of reacting to a remedy. Choose what is best for you.

In many females period bloating is very unpleasant and hampers daily activities. It is always good to bring in the lifestyle changes which can be positive for health. If still the symptoms do not subside, consult a doctor for further advice.

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