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Weight Gain Before Period & Weight Gain During Period: Are They Connected?

Many women complain about feeling bloated or gaining weight before and during their period. Are there physiological reasons for this period weight gain and what can be done about it? This article will explore the reasons why you can experience weight gain before your period and way to address period weight gain.

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Weight gain before period

Do you gain weight before your period and want to know why? Let’s take a look at the reasons why women can gain weight before their period and that things that can be done to manage it. 

Causes of PMS weight gain

Yes, your jeans are tighter, and you are not the only one! According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health (OWN), up to 90% of all women report having premenstrual symptoms of bloating, headaches and moodiness. Weight gain before your period is also referred to as PMS weight gain. This weight gain is related to hormonal changes. If you take a look at the menstrual cycle, the time just before you get your period is referred to as the luteal phase. 

The luteal phase (LP) is the time during your cycle when the estrogen levels drop down, while the progesterone levels are at their highest.

There is a theory that sometimes the level of progesterone is lower than should be and the level of estrogen is relatively higher. Because of this disbalance, many women will experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. These symptoms can be mild to quite severe and can interfere with everyday life.

Some women that experience weight gain before their period also report that their breasts get slightly larger and tender, some experience constipation, while others crave certain foods. Unfortunately, these are most likely the exact types of food you should be avoiding at this time.

You may gain three to five pounds that go away after a few days of bleeding.

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How to manage weight gain before period

Have you ever had cravings for certain types of food just before your period? Many women will refer to these as comfort foods, but they are actually the last thing you should be putting into your body in order to reduce period weight gain. The types of food that you should cut back or avoid include:

  • salt and food with added salt 
  • caffeine
  • sugar 
  • alcohol
  • fatty foods

The last thing that you really want to hear is that you should exercise and drink more water. These two things are not very comforting when you are tired, hungry, and moody. But, in fact, exercise and increased water intake are the best things you can do to reduce the likelihood of weight gain before your period.

Weight gain during period

Weight gain during your period is less common that weight gain before your period. When your body “senses” that you are not pregnant, the hormones levels change once again. This drop in estrogen and progesterone triggers the body to shed the lining of your uterus and your period starts. 

When does period weight gain go away?

This shift in hormones levels also causes a shift in the fluid (water) retention that you experience before your period starts. This is probably the only good thing that some women can say about getting their period, because you start to lose the PMS weight gain and fit into clothes again. 

Period weight gain treatment

The biggest things you can do to alleviate period weight gain from fluid retention is to avoid certain foods, continue to exercise and drink plenty of water. In addition to these, you can look at the following options:

  • Magnesium and calcium supplements — magnesium and/or calcium supplements may help to alleviate fluid retention during your menstrual cycle. A recent study found that low serum calcium and magnesium levels during the luteal phase, lead to more severe PMS symptoms. These including weight gain and bloating associated with fluid retention. With any supplement, please consult your medical care provider before starting any new medication, as they can interact with other medications that you may already be taking.
  • Diuretics — a diuretic is a substance, that draws fluid (water) from the body and causes increased urination. But diuretics should be prescribed only by healthcare professionals. 

If you continue to experience monthly weight gain, you may want to consult your doctor. He or she may ask you to keep a symptom diary and suggest alternative options. 

Hicks, C. S., McLester, C. N., Esmat, T. A., & McLester, J. R. (2017). A Comparison of Body Composition Across Two Phases of the Menstrual Cycle Utilizing Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry, Air Displacement Plethysmography, and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. International Journal of Exercise Science, 10(8), 1235-1249. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5786198/

Sakamaki-Sunaga, M., Kamemoto, K., Yamada, M., and Matsuda, T. (2018). Effects Of Menstrual Cycle On Body Weight And Intracellular And Extracellular Fluid: 748 Board #9 May 30 200 PM - 330 PM. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 50 (5S), 160.

Sharma, G., & Tandon, P. (2015). Luteal phase serum calcium and serum magnesium levels in causation of premenstrual syndrome. International Journal of Basic and Applied Physiology, 4(1), 126. Retrieved from http://ijbap.com/upload/ijbap-2015/23-ijbap-2015.pdf.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health. (2018). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome.

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