Ever noticed that in the run up to your period you’re a little, er… rounder than usual? Your jeans might be tighter and you might be find yourself rubbing your tummy like a tiny, smaller ear-lobed Buddha. Well, you’re not alone. A lot of women experience bloating, most often in their boobs, face, stomach, legs, ankles and feet.
So put on your comfiest trousers, take off your bra and read about what the freaking hell is going on.
Why is this happening?
Well, you can thank your old buddy progesterone for this one. For those who need a little refresher, progesterone levels rise in a woman’s body during ovulation. This sends a message to your body to get that uterine wall nice and thick in case of fertilisation, but it also leads to a whole bunch of other changes in your body – including, you guessed it, bloating.
Basically, your body starts retaining water about a week before your period, which is what causes the bloating. If that wasn’t fun enough, hormone changes can slow down your bowel mobility, which can cause you to hold on to more gas, making things even more swollen. And because life’s a b***h, the increase in blood flow to your uterus can make things even more swollen. We know, it’s not fair.
So, what can you do?
Well, you might have read about miracle foods or herbal remedies that can help you out, but the reality is, food has very little to do with it. This bloating is caused by hormonal changes, so changing your diet won’t do much… but that being said, you might want to steer clear of famously gassy foods like cabbage and baked beans, which would make you bloat anyway.
Exercise. We know, that’s what we always say. We know you don’t want to and that everything hurts and you want to be in the foetal position for 23 and half hours of the day BUT exercise causes your blood to pump faster around your system, which can reduce fluid retention. Plus, if you’re unfit and unhealthy, the symptoms often become worse and you are more vulnerable to other illness. So lace up your runners and pound the pavement. Or, you know, strut along it. Whatever feels best.
What’s that you’re saying – you’re too tired to exercise? Well, we have some great news, sleeping might actually help you in this case. It’s not so much that if you’re tired, you’ll bloat more, but rather you’ll notice the bloating more. Plus, it might help with the, er, mood swings. Not that you have those, obviously.
But most importantly, just remember that a bit of bloating is perfectly normal. So be kind to yourself and your belly. And maybe embrace an elasticated waistband for a few days.
TL;DR? Here’s the important stuff:
- The increase in progesterone after ovulation can make your body retain more fluid, which leads to bloating.
- Because it’s caused by hormones, changing your diet won’t make a difference, but you might want to stay away from naturally gassy foods so you don’t make it worse.
- Exercise and sleep can help ease some of the symptoms.