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Weight Gain Before and During Your Period: Are They Connected?

Many people complain about feeling bloated or gaining weight before and during their period. What are the physiological reasons for this period-related weight gain, and what can be done about it? This article will explore the reasons why you might experience weight gain before your period and ways to address period weight gain.

Weight gain before your period

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

Causes of PMS weight gain

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health (OWN), up to 90 percent 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 that occur in the luteal phase, which is the phase just before you get your period. 

The luteal phase (LP) is the second phase of the menstrual cycle. It begins right after ovulation (if it took place) and ends when menstruation starts (if the egg was not fertilized).

The actual causes of PMS symptoms aren’t entirely clear, according to researchers. But these are the most popular explanations, including:

  • Cyclic changes in female sex hormones 
  • Pituitary hormones fluctuation 
  • Prostaglandins level changes  
  • Cyclic changes of certain brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters like serotonin

The most common premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms are mood swings, abdominal bloating, fatigue, hot flashes, and headaches.

These behavioral and physical symptoms can be mild to quite severe and can interfere with everyday life.

Some people who experience weight gain before their period also report that their breasts get slightly larger and more tender; some experience constipation, while others crave certain foods. Unfortunately, these cravings are typically for the exact types of foods that are best avoided at this time.

It’s normal to gain three to five pounds that go away a few days after your period starts.

How to manage weight gain before your period

Have you ever had cravings for certain types of food just before your period? These are often thought of as comfort foods, but they probably won’t provide much comfort with regards to period weight gain. The types of food to cut back or avoid before and during your period include:

  • Salt and food with added salt 
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar 
  • Alcohol
  • Fatty foods

Although you may not be in the mood, two things that can really help are exercising and drinking more water. It might seem counterintuitive, but increased water intake is one of the best things you can do to reduce the likelihood of weight gain before your period.

Weight gain during your period

Weight gain during menstruation is less common than weight gain before your menstruation. Once the body detects that pregnancy didn’t occur, hormone levels change again. This drop in estrogen and progesterone trigger the body to shed the lining of the uterus, and menstruation begins. 

When does period weight gain go away?

This shift in hormone levels also may cause a shift in the fluid (water) retention before your period starts. That’s why most people lose the PMS weight gain and fit into their clothes again once they get their period. 

Period weight gain treatment

The most useful things you can do to alleviate period weight gain from fluid retention are to avoid certain foods, continue to exercise, and drink plenty of water. These are some additional options:

  • Magnesium and calcium supplements — magnesium and/or calcium supplements may help to alleviate fluid retention caused by the menstrual cycle. A recent study found that low serum calcium and magnesium levels during the luteal phase lead to more severe PMS symptoms, including weight gain and bloating associated with fluid retention. It’s important to consult your medical care provider before starting any new medication, including supplements, 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 only be taken if prescribed by a health care professional. 

If you experience monthly weight gain despite making these changes, you may want to consult your health care provider. They may ask you to keep a symptom diary and suggest alternative options. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5786198/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/water-retention/art-20044983

10.3945/ajcn.112.044172

acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Premenstrual-Syndrome-PMS?IsMobileSet=false

https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/premenstrual-syndrome-pms-a-to-z

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