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What Can I Do About Bloating during Menstruation?

A woman with menstrual bloating and cramps.
Drinking water can help with bloating.
Exercising and cutting down on salt can reduce bloating related to menstruation and PMS.
Eating lots of salt can cause bloating.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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Some options for managing bloating during menstruation include making dietary adjustments to limit bloat, exercising, and using hormonal birth control to reduce bloating. Eating multiple small meals a day with a high fiber and low salt content can often address bloating, as can staying hydrated with plain water, especially for people who exercise during menstruation. If bloating during menstruation becomes severe, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor to receive an evaluation for underlying medical conditions that may be making bloating worse.

Bloating occurs as people retain water, causing them to gain weight and feel puffy and heavy. Patients may also experience abdominal bloating, caused by buildups of gas in the intestines. Diet is often a major contributing factor to bloating during menstruation. Avoiding refined foods and caffeine can help, as can cutting down on salt. Eating fresh, whole foods like vegetables and whole grains will limit water retention and provide lots of fiber to keep the bowels regular and limit gas buildups.

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Cutting down on dairy products can also help with bloating during menstruation. Dairy can cause congestion, which will make people retain water and can cause abdominal discomfort. Women who experience congestion in response to eating other foods may also want to avoid them during menstruation to stay comfortable. It is also important to drink water or herbal teas for hydration, avoiding sodas and drinks with caffeine. For women who must have coffee or caffeinated teas, cutting down on consumption during menstruation will reduce the risk of bloating.

Exercise can also help. Sweating will remove some of the excess water and promote circulation, limiting pooling of fluid in the extremities. Some women find that massage can help with bloating during menstruation and may also relieve cramps and discomfort. Some massage therapists have techniques they tailor to menstruating clients. They may also be able to provide some tips on gentle exercise and stretching to relieve menstrual discomfort.

There are some medications people can take to manage bloating during menstruation. Mild diuretics will help eliminate excess water, and patients may take herbal medicines as well. Doctors can prescribe more aggressive medications if bloating becomes a serious problem. For women with recurrent menstrual problems like bloating, severe pain, and heavy bleeding, using hormonal birth control can help manage these symptoms. Several forms are available; if someone experiences a bad reaction to one medication, it is possible to try another to see if it will address the menstrual discomfort without causing undesirable side effects.

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Discuss this Article

DylanB
Post 4

I have found that walking helps reduce bloating during my menstrual cycle. I walk for twenty minutes a day, and even if I feel miserable, I force myself to do it, because I know that I will feel better afterward.

If it is too cold or rainy outside, then I will use a treadmill. Sometimes, it is really hard to get motivated, especially when I am having cramps and severe bloating, but once I get into the exercise, I follow through to the end.

JackWhack
Post 3

I never knew what to do for bloating as a teenager. My mother just told me I would have to suffer through it, like every other woman on this planet.

Once I went away to college, I discovered that other girls were taking over-the-counter medicines designed to treat menstrual cramps and bloating. Some of them had caffeine in them, and all were diuretics.

I took some of these pills, and I felt so much better. I did urinate more often than usual, but I think that this kept me from feeling so bloated. The pain medicine really worked, too.

kylee07drg
Post 2

@orangey03 – Did you know that portion control can also reduce bloating during your period? I figured this out while I was on a portion control diet to lose weight.

I had reduced the amount on my plate by about one-third. This was pretty drastic, but my stomach felt so much better because of it. I rarely ever felt sluggish from the food I had eaten.

The effect was even more dramatic during my period. I noticed that I didn't experience my usual bloating and diarrhea. This totally sold me on the portion control diet.

orangey03
Post 1

My bloating during my period used to be so bad that I could hardly function! I knew that I should have avoided caffeine and potato chips during this time, but it was a sad fact that this was the time that I craved them most!

I reasoned that since I felt so terrible, I shouldn't deprive myself of foods that would cheer me up. Well, the satisfaction only lasted until I had stopped chewing and drinking. Then, the bloating worsened, and I became even more miserable.

These days, I am wiser. I eat things like spinach salad, whole grain cereal, and apples during my period, and I drink only water. I have reduced my bloating significantly.

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