You know that feeling. Your period is looming, and your body decides to go haywire. Cramps, mood swings, breakouts…and the dreaded bloat.
Your stomach puffs up like an over-inflated balloon, and you can’t zip up your favorite jeans. The worst part?
Constipation kicks in and you feel stuffed, stopped up, and just plain uncomfortable. Don’t worry ladies, you don’t have to suffer through another bloated cycle. Keep reading to get the scoop on what’s causing your monthly backup and simple solutions to get things moving before your period arrives.
Why Do You Feel Bloated Before Your Period?
Why do you feel like a bloated blimp before your period? Hormones. Specifically, progesterone and estrogen. As your hormone levels fluctuate leading up to menstruation, the changes can wreak havoc on your digestive system and cause water retention.
- Estrogen causes your body to retain more sodium and water, which leads to bloating. Progesterone also slows down your digestion, allowing gas to build up. The result? A puffy, uncomfortable belly and constipation.
- Besides this, your cravings may change too, as hormonal shifts can influence what foods you’re hungry for. Eating more salty, sugary, or high-carb options will only make bloating and constipation worse.
Let’s get into the helpful tips, so you can ease discomfort from bloating and constipation before your period. Stay positive – your body’s just going through normal hormonal changes! Relief will come once your flow starts.
1. Drink Plenty of Water to Stay Hydrated
To get things moving again during that time of the month, drinking plenty of water is key. You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s true—hydration is essential for your health and digestion.
- Aim for 6-8 glasses of water per day, and add an extra glass or two when you’re premenstrual. Dehydration slows your digestion and can make constipation worse
- Herbal tea, especially peppermint or ginger, adds fluid and may ease cramping. The warmth is soothing to.
2. Increase Your Fiber Intake
To get things moving again, focus on fiber, fiber, fiber. Fiber helps promote regularity, and most of us don’t get nearly enough of it. During the days leading up to your period, make a conscious effort to boost your fiber intake from foods and supplements.
Add more high-fiber foods
Stock up on high-fiber foods like:
- Beans, lentils, and legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, and lentils are great options. Try adding them to soups, salads, or burritos.
- Whole grains: Switch to whole wheat bread, oats, and brown rice. Whole grains are more filling and help relieve constipation.
- Vegetables: Artichokes, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes are excellent choices. Aim for 2 to 3 cups of veggies per day.
- Fruit: Berries, pears, and prunes or prune juice contain fiber and natural sugars that can help stimulate your bowels.
Take a fiber supplement
Fiber supplements like psyllium husk, wheat bran, or oat bran can add extra fiber without extra calories. Start with a small dose, like 1/2 teaspoon in a glass of water, and increase slowly as needed to avoid cramping. Be sure to drink plenty of water when taking fiber supplements.
Hence, making a few simple diet changes during the week before your period can really help improve constipation and reduce discomfort from bloating or cramps. Be patient through trial and error to find what works for your body.
However if problems persist, talk to your doctor about other remedies or possible underlying issues. But for most of us, focusing on fiber, fluids, and self-care can do wonders for period-related constipation and getting back to feeling like yourself again.
3. Use Probiotics to Improve Gut Health
Your gut microbiome—the collection of good bacteria in your digestive tract—has a huge impact on your digestive and overall health. When the balance of good and bad bacteria gets out of whack, it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, gas, and constipation. Probiotics help restore this balance.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in certain foods and supplements. Consuming probiotics helps populate your gut with good bacteria to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Look for a probiotic supplement with multiple strains of bacteria, especially Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which can help relieve constipation and reduce bloating.
Some of the best natural sources of probiotics include:
- Yogurt or kefir: Look for products containing live, active cultures with at least 5-10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per serving.
- Sauerkraut and kimchi: These fermented foods are rich in probiotics. Just make sure to choose refrigerated varieties.
- Miso: Made from fermented soybeans, miso paste contains beneficial probiotics. Add it to soups, stews, dressings, and marinades.
- Tempeh: Made from fermented soybeans, tempeh is a great meat substitute and source of probiotics. Pan-fry tempeh and add it to salads, sandwiches, or pasta dishes.
In addition to consuming probiotic-rich foods, you may want to take a daily probiotic supplement, especially in the week before your period. Follow the dosage directions and take the probiotic with food for the best absorption.
No doubt, probiotics can help get your gut health back on track, improving digestion and relieving uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and constipation. By balancing the good and bad bacteria in your gut microbiome, probiotics offer natural relief so you can beat the bloat and stay comfortable all month long.
4. Try Magnesium Supplements for Relief
Magnesium is a mineral that helps relax muscles and ease constipation. During your period, magnesium levels can drop, contributing to symptoms like bloating, cramps, and difficulty going to the bathroom. Supplementing with magnesium may provide relief from premenstrual constipation and its unpleasant side effects.
Taking an over-the-counter magnesium supplement, like magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate, can help get your bowels moving again. The typical dosage for constipation relief is 200 to 400 milligrams, taken at bedtime. Magnesium citrate tends to have a laxative effect, so start with a lower dose and increase slowly. Magnesium glycinate may be gentler on the stomach.
You can also up your magnesium intake by:
- Eating more magnesium-rich foods like spinach, Swiss chard, black beans, bananas, and yogurt. Aim for 300 to 400 mg per day from foods.
- Soaking in an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate and can be absorbed through the skin. Soak for at least 20 minutes to increase your magnesium levels.
- Use a magnesium oil or lotion and massage it into your abdomen. This provides magnesium directly to the tissues that need it most for relief from constipation and cramps.
- Drinking magnesium-infused water. You can make your own by adding liquid magnesium citrate or magnesium chloride drops to water. Sip throughout the day to keep your magnesium levels up.
While magnesium can help get your bowels moving during your period when constipation strikes, be aware it may cause loose stools in some people. Start slowly and adjust the dose based on your body’s response. Magnesium is a natural remedy that, when used properly, can safely provide relief from the bloating and discomfort of premenstrual constipation.
So, there you have it, some simple and natural ways to ease premenstrual constipation and bloating. Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, eat high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables, get some exercise, and consider taking a probiotic or magnesium supplement.
And don’t forget to give yourself some extra self-care during this time of the month. Try journaling your feelings, do some light yoga, get a massage, or just relax with a good book. Be kind to yourself and know that this too shall pass.
Staying regular and reducing discomfort from constipation can help make your period more manageable and less stressful. Give a few of these tips a try and you’ll be feeling relief in no time. Good luck and happy tummy!