Getting rid of period bloating requires you to look at the details. But fear not. There are actions you can take to reduce or even eliminate your symptoms. And no, OTC painkillers are not the answer.
What causes bloating during your period?
Bloating in general can have a number of causes.
Perhaps you had too many carbonated drinks. The bubbles can get trapped in your stomach making you feel like a balloon. Maybe you ate a huge, super-fatty meal (hello Thanksgiving). Fats move through your system slowly, making your belly feel bigger for longer.
Period bloating is an entirely different beast. It’s most commonly reported one to two weeks before you bleed. This is classic PMS territory.
During PMS, your body goes through a rollercoaster of hormonal changes to prepare for a possible pregnancy. The most influential hormones are estrogen and progesterone, which are produced in your ovaries.
Rapid fluctuations in your estrogen and progesterone levels can cause you to retain excess water. This is the chief cause of bloating during your period.
How long does period bloating last?
Most people with periods experience the infamous bloat one to two days before bleeding begins. Some have symptoms one or two weeks in advance.
Many feel consistent discomfort. Others have difficulty doing everyday tasks. "It is chaos, physically and mentally, for at least a week," says Maeve Madden.
So, how quickly will you get rid of period bloating?
The good news is that once menstruation begins, you’re likely in the clear. One study that analyzed 765 menstrual cycles found that “the peak day of average fluid retention was the first day of flow.”
Within a few days, most of the study participants reported reduced period bloating, although in some cases, it took up to a week.
How to reduce period bloating
It may not be possible to eliminate symptoms entirely, but there are several research-backed remedies that can help you get rid of period bloating. All of them deal with what you put into your body.
Watch the salt — Salt binds with water to create a balanced environment for your cells. Limiting your salt intake is a potential solution, just know that small studies have found mixed results for PMS bloating.
Boost your B6 — Vitamin B6 is a period symptom superstar. We wrote a whole thing about it. Our conclusion: “A vitamin B6 deficiency can cause dopamine levels in the kidneys to plummet. This causes the kidneys to pump out sodium, which in turn, causes water to accumulate throughout the body.”
Eat a banana — Humans should get at least 4,000 mg of potassium per day. One banana can deliver 10% to 15% of that daily need. That’s good news considering potassium keeps your body’s fluid levels in check. You can get your fill of potassium in more ways than a banana, but hey, I like bananas.
- More magnesium — We love nutrients here at De Lune, so we wrote a bunch of stuff about the powers of magnesium. One of our favorite studies showed that increased magnesium intake can reduce period bloating by your second cycle, but consistent dosing is key.
Research can point us in the right direction, but in the end, your period is personal. You may need to experiment before you find the right remedy.
Just know that OTC painkillers like ibuprofen, Advil, Midol, Motrin, and Aleve aren’t your only answers. Over the long term, these quick fixes can cause stomach bleeding, kidney and liver malfunction, and even increased bloating.