Premenstrual Syndrome, as PMS is called in medical terms, can turn a woman’s life into a living nightmare. Fluctuations or a sharp drop in certain hormones before your period kickstart a wide range of symptoms—period bloating is one of them. Bloating is when you feel full even though you haven’t eaten or overeaten. Wondering how long does period bloating last? It usually starts a day or two before the onset of monthly menstruation, although some women might experience it for five days or more.
Let’s discuss menstrual bloating, and its home remedies and preventive measures in detail.
What Is Bloating In Periods?
The feeling of heaviness and swelling of the abdomen just before or at the start of menstruation is known as bloating. It can also occur one or two weeks before a woman’s period, as a symptom of PMS. There are several other symptoms that a woman may experience, along with bloating during periods. These are as below:
- Mood swings
- Swollen breasts
- Food cravings
What Causes Bloating During Periods?
Below are the leading causes of bloating during periods:
Hormones: PMS occurs during the luteal phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle. At this phase, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone are prone to fluctuation. The lining of the uterus also gets thicker during this phase. If you are pregnant, the fertilised eggs get attached to the lining of the thickened uterine. In case you are not pregnant, this thickened lining sheds from the uterus, leading to periods.
Other causes that lead to bloating:
- Diet that is high in salt
- Intake of certain types of vitamins and minerals
10 Simple Home Remedies To Reduce Bloating During Periods
Worried about how to get rid of period bloating? Here are some effective home remedies to get you started.
1. Stay Away From Salty Food
The sodium content in salt can increase the retention of water in your body. Avoiding salty food may help control water retention and keep menstrual bloating at bay. It is recommended that you restrict the intake of salt to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day. Processed food generally contains excessive quantities of salt. Hence, it is advisable that you eat food cooked at home with fresh ingredients.
2. Increase The Intake Of Potassium-Rich Food
Bloating during menstruation can be reduced by improving the intake of potassium in your diet. Potassium not only reduces sodium levels but also increases urine production. This helps in reducing water retention and eliminates menstrual bloating. Potassium-rich food includes sweet potato, tomato, banana, spinach and other leafy vegetables, and avocado.
3. Stay Away From Refined Carbs
Refined carbohydrates like processed sugar and white flour lead to increased blood sugar levels. This raises insulin levels in the blood, which in turn leads to the kidneys retaining more sodium. Spiked sodium levels cause more water retention, yet again. Therefore, keeping a close watch on refined carbs is essential for controlling bloating and gas during periods.
4. Increase The Intake Of Diuretics
As discussed before, urine production reduces the chances of menstrual bloating. Intake of diuretics increases urine production and reduces water retention. Natural sources of diuretics include pineapple, asparagus, ginger, garlic, cucumber, peach, leeks, etc.
5. Follow A Regular Fitness Routine
Exercising regularly may reduce the chances of a bloated stomach during your periods. It is recommended that you include at least 2.5 hours of a moderate fitness routine in a week.
6. Increase Water Intake
It is often believed that increasing the intake of water can help improve water retention by optimising the efficiency of kidney function. However, there is no scientific evidence yet to support this claim.
7. Avoid Foods That Cause Gas
Vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and lettuce comprise a complex sugar known as raffinose. We, as humans, do not have the enzyme that is necessary to break down this sugar, causing gas and bloating.
8. Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol
Coffee is known for overstimulating the digestive tract and irritating the bowels. Not just that, it also dehydrates you, which leads to water retention. Alcohol, on the other hand, increases the symptoms of PMS like mood swings, breast tenderness, and bloating before menstruation begins.
9. Keep A Tab On Your Fibre Intake
On your period and making the extra effort to incorporate as many fruits and vegetables in your daily diet as possible? Great! But make sure that you don’t overdo it as it might backfire. Suddenly including excess quantities of fruits and vegetables during your period may increase the chances of bloating because your body is not used to that much fibre.
10. Sleep A Bit More
Yay, this is your time to pack in a little more sleep! Sleep is crucial to push the excess fluid in your stomach out of your body. This helps in preventing bloating, menstrual pain, and feeling out of sorts.
5 Useful Tips On How To Reduce Period Bloating
Below are some easy-peasy preventive measures to control bloating during menstruation.
1. Consider Taking Birth Control Pills
Taking birth control pills may reduce menstrual bloating. However, some women experience increased bloating on taking birth control pills. The effects of taking these pills often vary among women. Therefore, it is best to take the advice of a doctor before taking birth control pills as a remedy for controlling bloating during menstruation.
2. Take An OTC Anti-Inflammatory Drug
Naprosyn and Ibuprofen block the chemicals that lead to inflammation and then bloating. It is advisable that you pop 200 to 400 milligrams of this medication every 6 to 8 hours a few days before your period, or as per your doctor’s recommendation. Please note, this is an advisory and consulting your gynaec before taking any medication is necessary.
3. Skip Carbonated Drinks
The sugary, fizzy drinks may bring you some peace but it is just a temporary escape from period pain. In fact, they’ll eventually make you feel more bloated than before. Instead, try your good old friend, water, to relieve you of bloating. Blend in some green peppermint to avoid inflammation.
4. Take A Prescribed Diuretic
Talk to your doctor about your bloating problem and he/she may prescribe a mild diuretic to relieve you from bloating during your periods. While it is often advised that you keep away from diuretics like tea and coffee to prevent menstrual bloating, it might be helpful for some women.
5. Track Your Period Symptoms
Menstrual cycle and pre-period symptoms vary widely among women. If you track the dates of the onset of your period and the dates of its related symptoms, you may notice a pattern that indicates when your bloating typically begins. You can start taking home remedies (discussed above) to prevent bloating from occurring.
When To Seek Medical Help?
Mild menstrual bloating happens for a few days and goes away on its own. However, you may need to see a gynaecologist if the bloating stays for a prolonged period and affects your quality of life. Your doctor is likely to prescribe water pills, diuretics, or birth control pills that can control fluid built-up or at least restrict it. You should consult a doctor urgently if bloating is accompanied by other symptoms like bloody stool, weight loss, fever, spotting in between periods, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, or diarrhoea.
- Bloating during menstruation refers to a feeling of fullness of the stomach despite not having overeaten. It is one of the most common symptoms of PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome.
- There are various factors that cause bloating during periods: Hormones, genes, dietary intake, and intake of certain vitamins and minerals.
- Home remedies like reducing the intake of salty food and refined carbs, increasing the intake of potassium-rich food and water, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, among various others, can control bloating during this time.
- Menstrual bloating can be prevented through the intake of diuretics, water pills, birth control pills, OTC anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.
- You should visit a doctor in case of severe symptoms along with bloating like bloody stool, nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhoea, heartburn, among other symptoms.
Bloating is a universal problem with hardly any woman escaping its clutches. Basic knowledge about it and the essential know-how of home remedies and preventive measures will help you in controlling it right from the beginning. So, go ahead and remove ‘menstrual bloating’ from your period dictionary once and for all.