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What can I do About Menstrual Bloating?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 07, 2024
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Menstrual bloating, also known as water retention, is a common symptom in the week prior to menstruation, as well as the first few days of menstrual bleeding. Along with other symptoms that are a part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual bloating can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. There are many ways to prevent and relieve bloating, however, and most are quite simple.

One of the most important ways to prevent bloating is to limit salt intake. Reducing salt intake will not only reduce bloating around the time of your period, but will also help to prevent high blood pressure. Reducing the amount of salt you consume throughout the month, but particularly in the week before your period, will help to prevent bloating and reduce it if it does occur.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, staying hydrated by drinking lots of water may also help. Avoid drinking alcohol, as this can further increase water retention. In addition, try to avoid sugary and caffeinated beverages, which can easily affect mood. Try to avoid unhealthy cravings as much as possible, or try to substitute healthier alternatives, such as a small dark chocolate bar, or some whole grain crackers, instead of a whole bag of candy or potato chips. Eating small, healthy meals throughout the day may help to prevent menstrual bloating as well as cravings.

Relief from bloating may also be found in some nutritional supplements. Vitamin B6 as well as calcium have been shown to have some effect on bloating. In addition to nutritional supplements, taking a hot bath may help relieve bloating symptoms, as well as to help you relax and relieve some tension and stress.

Though many women may not feel like exercising when they are bloated or have PMS, getting some aerobic exercise can really help with menstrual bloating. Even something as simple as going for a brisk walk for 20 minutes can make a big difference. In addition, exercise may help relieve stress as well as improve mood, because aerobic exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins into the brain.

Taking an over-the-counter diuretic may also be an effective treatment for menstrual bloating. These are also referred to as "water pills," and may help the body to relieve itself of persistent excess water. When taking a diuretic, however, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking water, as well as to eat healthy foods. Diuretics can rid the body of nutrients, so it is important to only take them if absolutely necessary.

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Discussion Comments
By geekish — On Aug 11, 2011

I have always found that exercising although annoyingly uncomfortable really does the trick. Sometimes though, the bloating occurs later in the day when I do not have a chance to work out.

Bloating is awful though! It makes even every day tasks seem a bit more arduous.

I would like to try some of the other methods - probably easiest to do would be to give up junk foods, but sometimes the cravings are just too much!

By sherlock87 — On Aug 10, 2011

@accordion- have you been told about getting a laporoscopy? It's a fairly simple procedure when your doctor can take biopsies of your uterus and surrounding areas, in case you have cysts, fibroids, or lesions. It helps a lot in determining the source of the pain and the bloating, and that can help you get better treatment.

By accordion — On Aug 10, 2011

I have had a lot of problems with menstrual bloating and pain. I also have irritable bowel syndrome, though, and recently doctors have suggested that the two conditions are probably very closely linked- one makes the other worse, and so forth. I started taking probiotics a year ago and they have helped a little with bloating, during my period especially, but I still have some issues with it, and pain as well. I don't know if it will ever entirely go away.

By animegal — On Aug 09, 2011

Has anyone tried the supplement magnesium to help with their menstrual bloating?

I have been doing some reading and it seems that magnesium can really help reduce water retention and swelling of the hands and legs during PMS. As an added bonus magnesium is also supposed to help regulate a woman's moods during that time of the month so she can remain more calm and focused.

I noticed online that there are some really serious side effects with magnesium that are making me wary about taking it. Feeling nauseated while taking something for PMS doesn't sound like very much fun to me. Plus, there are so many people that can't take it at all as it can interact poorly with a lot of drugs.

By Sara007 — On Aug 08, 2011

Some women can gain upwards of around 10 pounds due to bad menstrual bloating. A good idea if your bloating is this severe is to see your doctor about a quality diuretic. While a lot of natural foods can help, sometimes the most severe menstrual bloating needs a professional touch.

For myself, I used to puff up like a balloon when it came time for PMS and I actually had to keep different pants for that time of the month, because the bloating actually made me go up a size. I tried everything, eating less sodium, exercising and drinking oodles of water, but nothing worked.

I finally got up the nerve and talked to my doctor about it and he put me on water pills. The bloating went away with them and I felt so much more comfortable during PMS. I am glad that I got the prescription.

By Moldova — On Aug 07, 2011

For me, exercise really is the only thing that works to keep menstrual bloating at bay. I used to be really sedentary, and would have the whole gamut of PMS symptoms, but especially bad bloating. Well, I started an exercise program, and after about six months of sticking with it, I noticed that I no longer got as bloated before and during my period. After a year, the bloating was almost non-existent!

By suntan12 — On Aug 07, 2011

I personally hate when I experience menstrual bloating and with me I can tell that it is happening when my rings start to feel a little tight.

My clothes also feel a little snug and it really depresses me even though it is temporary. The only thing that really works for me is getting a good workout because when I finish I feel so good that I don’t even remember that I felt bloated before the workout.

I also drink a lot of water afterwards so I don’t know if that is another reason why the bloating becomes less of a problem.

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