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How to Manage Period Bloating

How to Manage Period Bloating

Even though every person's menstrual cycle is different, many people experience discomfort at some point before or during periods. Premenstrual symptoms (PMS), usually occur during the last, luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which begins from day 14 through day 28 of the menstrual cycle and typically disappears shortly after menstruation occurs. 

Bloating is a common premenstrual symptom and can be accompanied by stomach cramps and back pain. We take a look at what causes period bloating and ways to reduce it.


What Does Period Bloat Feel Like?

Bloating may feel like a full belly and the abdomen can appear distended. The abdomen may feel swollen or tight, be hard to the touch or be painful. You may also feel windier than usual, burp more frequently, or have a rumbling stomach.


Causes of Period Bloating

Bloating before and during menstruation is primarily caused by hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the menstrual cycle. The key factors causing bloating include:

  1. Hormonal Changes: The menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Before menstruation, estrogen levels peak, causing the body to retain more water and salt. This water retention leads to bloating and swelling.
  2. Progesterone Levels: Progesterone, which rises in the second half of the cycle, can slow down the digestive system. This can cause gas and constipation, contributing to bloating.
  3. Dietary Factors: Cravings for salty and sugary foods can exacerbate bloating. High salt intake leads to water retention, while high sugar intake can cause blood sugar spikes and drops, affecting your overall digestion and comfort.
  4. Gastrointestinal Changes: The hormonal shifts can also affect gastrointestinal motility, leading to symptoms like gas, constipation, and bloating.


    Tips To Manage Period Bloat

    Bloating during menstruation is not a good feeling. Even though you know it will go away once your period arrives, you may want to try a few tricks to lessen its impact. A few things you can do at home include:

    • Physical exercise: Regular physical activity has been proven to relieve PMS symptoms such as bloating. Exercising nearly every day will help. Two and a half hours of exercise is recommended each week.
    • Avoid foods high in salt: Try reducing sodium in your diet and limiting processed foods. Foods high in salt can cause bloating, and processed foods contain more salt. Try to include healthier foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds in your diet to help alleviate bloating.
    • Eat foods rich in potassium: Eating foods high in potassium may reduce bloating during menstruation. According to research sources, potassium decreases sodium levels and increases urine output. Thus, potassium may help reduce water retention and improve menstrual bloating. Foods high in potassium that may reduce menstrual bloating include Spinach and other dark leafy greens, Sweet potatoes, Bananas, Avocados, and Tomatoes.
    • Drink plenty of water: Adequate hydration is always necessary, but it is especially important in the days before menstruation. There are various amounts of water to drink in a day, but two to three bottles is usually a good rule of thumb.
    • Cut out carbohydrates: Refined carbohydrates, such as white flour and processed sugar, cause an increase in blood sugar levels. It increases insulin levels in the blood and causes the kidneys to retain more sodium sources.
    • Decrease salt: Increased sodium levels lead to more water retention. People who want to reduce water retention and improve physiological bloating are best served by avoiding refined carbohydrates.
    • Mindful eating: Eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly aids digestion and may reduce bloating.
    • Remove alcohol and caffeine: Bloating and other premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms may be related to both alcohol and caffeine. Instead of drinking these drinks, drink more water or herbal teasIf skipping coffee in the morning is difficult, try replacing it with a less caffeinated drink, such as tea, or replace regular coffee with a decaffeinated version.
    • Manage stress: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle yoga to manage stress levels.
    • Over-the-Counter Remedies: Anti-gas medications can alleviate bloating caused by gas and diuretics can help reduce water retention. However, they should be used sparingly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.


    When to See a Doctor

    Severe or persistent bloating that interferes with daily activities might indicate a more serious condition. It is important to consult a healthcare provider if you experience:

    • Severe abdominal pain
    • Significant weight gain
    • Bloating that does not improve with lifestyle changes
    • Other unusual symptoms like fever or blood in stool


    Whilst uncomfortable, period bloating is a common part of the menstrual cycle caused by hormonal changes, dietary factors, and gastrointestinal shifts. Making mindful lifestyle adjustments can reduce the impact of bloating. 



    1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2020). Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). ACOG.
    2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021). Menstrual cycle: What's normal, what's not. Mayo Clinic.
    3. NHS. (2020). PMS (premenstrual syndrome). NHS.
    4. Smith, R. (2021). How to Deal with Period Bloating. Healthline.