Bloating: The Least-Favorite Symptom

By Alma Bengio

We all fear that certain day of the month. Perhaps because it means now we have to worry about what color pants to wear in case we leak, perhaps because it means we no longer have full control over our mood or hunger, or perhaps because it entails the uncomfortable, the annoying, and the very much feared: bloating. 

That feeling when your abdomen is heavy and swollen, that happens right before and at the start of your period. It’s just terrible isn’t it! It’s also unavoidable, so maybe we should make our peace with it rather than allow it to make us bitter. Let’s first see the science behind it. 

An average of 70% of menstruators experience bloating (I’m one of them). Bloating occurs as a result of fluctuations in estrogen levels and a significant drop in progesterone. What this basically means is that the higher the estrogen level, the more our bodies retain water, hence the bloat. These symptoms usually begin 1 to 2 days before the actual arrival of your period, but I personally get it up to 5 days before, which I take as a signal from my body of what is waiting for me.

Luckily, out of my own need to not let the bloat affect my mood, I found ways to deal with bloating in an attempt to reduce the discomfort. Here’s what I found.

  1. Eating protein and potassium-rich foods is a must (salmon, chicken, tofu, as well as ginger, celery…)

  2. Avoid foods that cause gas (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower): These already cause bloating, so it’s better to simply not eat them during these hard times.

  3. Working out: Keeping your heart rate up is a great way to alleviate PMS symptoms. So when you least feel like doing it, that’s exactly when you most need it.

These are some simple points that are definitely helping me deal with one of the worst aspects of getting your period. Physical discomfort has the power to ruin your day but if you deal with it inside out, you’ll be able to take charge over your hardest days of the month. 

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