Don’t be scared if you find out you have gained weight before or during your period. There might be several menstruation myths which is not true at all, but gaining weight during your period is certainly not one of them. You certainly gain some weight during your menstruation cycle.
How long does it last?
There are some physiological and psychological causes due to which menstruation adds a few pounds to your weight that may last for a week or two during or after your period.
What the causes you gain weight during period?
These are the reasons why you gain weight during your period.
1. Hormonal imbalances and fluid retention
Most women and people who menstruate complain about bloating during their menstrual cycle. This happens because of a shift in the levels of the female reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone during the second half of the menstruation cycle, i.e., just before your period starts. The high levels of these hormones change the body’s set point for sodium and indirectly lead to fluid retention. This is why you feel bloated and gain a few pounds (3 – 5 pounds). Commonly these symptoms are noticeable during the second half of the menstrual cycle, when both the estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are at their highest.
What to do?
To manage fluid retention on period, it is best to avoid salty foods during the second half of the menstrual cycle.
Constipation is highly noticeable in women before their period starts. The menstrual cycle affects the gastrointestinal tract in how it works to push out waste from the body. The main cause behind this is progesterone level. High level of progesterone causes some slackening of the muscles, leading to a reduction in gastrointestinal motility, and which in turn may lead to bloating and constipation in some women.
What to do?
To reduce both constipation and bloating, it is good to increase the amount of fiber in your diet, especially in the second half of your menstrual cycle.
3. Changes in food cravings
Progesterone plays another role during the second half of your menstrual cycle. It increases your appetite. This is why you feel a spike in your food cravings. It causing you to eat more. When you’re eating more but without any physical activity, it is evident to gain permanent weight.
What to do?
You cannot stop the biological process of hormonal changes but you can keep your weight in check by avoiding foods that can actively cause your weight gain. Mostly people crave sugary food and a lot of carbs during their period. But these are the foods that lead you to gain a few pounds. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, sugary beverages and too much salty food can help you to keep your weight in check during your period.
PMS or premenstrual syndrome is common for most women during their monthly menstrual cycle. This starts about one or two weeks before the period begins. Common symptoms for PMS are tension, anxiety, depression, crying spells, mood swings, anger, irritability, poor concentration, bloating, appetite changes and food cravings, insomnia, social withdrawal etc. So, because of bloating and food cravings it is normal to gain weight. It is normal for healthy women with regular menstrual cycles to have significant increases in appetite, and protein intake, including sweetened foods and beverages, chocolates, caffeine and salty flavored food during the luteal, or premenstrual phase. Also, as a coping mechanism for depression, many women like to overeat or eat emotionally. This can also be the reason why some women gain weight during their period.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 3 to 8 percent of women experience a severe form of PMS known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Food cravings or binge eating are one of the main symptoms of PMDD. It is advisable to see a health professional immediately, if you experience depression or face anxiety attacks during PMS.
What to do?
To avoid gaining weight due to overeating during the PMS phase or the second half of your menstrual cycle, try incorporating workout routines and focus on consuming healthy, nutrient-rich foods.
Weight gain along with irregular periods are primary symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS, is a reproductive hormones imbalance in females that causes metabolism problems. It affects one in every 10 women who are capable of bearing child bearing.
What to do?
Women with PCOS tend to be obese. So, losing weight may help them having regular menstrual cycles. According to Dr. Stephens, fat produces estrogen, the same hormone which causes hormonal imbalances and thus it can affect the menstrual cycle. Irregular periods itself do not cause weight gain, but weight gain on the other hand, can cause irregular periods.
Weight gain during menstruation is temporary for most women. Maintaining an overall healthy diet and lifestyle can keep those extra gained pounds from becoming permanent.