It's inevitable: that awful week of pain and cramps that comes creeping up once a month or so. As if getting our period weren't painful enough, Mother Nature had to throw in some seriously unwanted water retention, too. Having a uterus that sheds its lining is no easy feat. In any event, we wanted to get to the bottom of how to eliminate puffy bellies during our period so we can carry on bloat-free.
So we contacted a handful of reproductive experts, did some deep research, and put together this list of easy, yet medically backed, techniques for how to get rid of period bloating, even when it's really, really bad. Scroll through to read what we found out.
The first order of business is watching what you eat. Joanne Piscitelli, MD, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, says it's important to eat at regular intervals to avoid spikes (or dips) in your blood sugar. Also, avoid salty foods as much as possible, as they can also trigger major water retention.
While milk may leave some feeling full, believe it or not, milk actually helps alleviate major premenstrual symptoms like (what else?) belly bloat. According to a 2005 study, women who drank four or more servings of low-fat or skim milk saw a 46% lower risk of PMS symptoms than women who only had one serving. If you're not a big milk drinker, you can try supplements instead. In a Columbia University study, women with PMS who took two Tums E-X tablets ($2) twice a day (1200 milligrams total) showed a 48% reduction in PMS symptoms. However, before you take supplements, consult your doctor.
It's a no-brainer. Exercise helps tone your body and gives you much-needed energy around the time of your period. Plus, Pisticelli says exercise can fight both physical and emotional symptoms of PMS, so you can fend off bloat and irritability at the same time. Win-win!
While drinking water while you're experiencing extra water weight may seem like counterproductive, water actually helps flush your system and rids the body of bloat. Water also helps relieve period-induced constipation, another annoying bloat culprit.