Bloating is a common early symptom of menstruation that many women experience and often creates the dreaded "plateau" or weight stall.  It may feel like you’ve gained weight or like your abdomen or other parts of your body are tight or even swollen.  Bloating generally occurs a week or two before your period starts and will go away once you’ve been menstruating for a few days.  Bloating is considered a very common symptom of PMS.  You may bloat every month, once in a while, or not at all.  Relief from bloating may occur immediately after you start your period or a few days into it.

You also may have other PMS symptoms. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state that up to 85 percent of women report physical symptoms related to their period.  Besides bloating, other common symptoms include cramping, food cravings, moodiness, acne and fatigue.  The symptoms you have can also change from month to month or as you get older.

So why do you get bloated?  The short answer is hormones.  PMS occurs during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle.  That’s when the hormones estrogen and progesterone can fluctuate.  It’s also when the lining of your uterus gets thicker.  If you become pregnant, the fertilized egg attaches to your thickened uterine lining.  If you’re not pregnant, the thickened lining leaves your body, and you have a period.

And while you may not be able to prevent bloating completely, it may come as a surprise to learn that betr health is the best lifestyle approach to reduce period bloating and PMS symptoms.  This is accomplished by:

  • following a low-sodium meal plan which includes fruits, vegetables, and lean protein

  • drinking lots of water

  • skipping excessive caffeine and eliminating alcohol

  • avoiding all processed foods

  • exercising regularly

As you move further through your betr journey, the intense symptoms of PMS should noticeably diminish and become more manageable.  

So don't panic if the scale is not moving during your monthly cycle!  Once your bloating subsides, you will see the scale move once again.  Often women are surprised at how much the scale drops after a PMS plateau so just keep up with those betr eating choices each day!

- Sources: Recommendations/data from the Center for Disease Control, American Heart Association and The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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