8 Ways To De-Bloat When You Have Your Period

by | Mar 22, 2018

Period bloat is the worst. And it turns out that not many of us are immune. It’s estimated that close to 70 percent of women experience bloating during that time of the month, says Dr Diana Bitner, a Michigan-based ob-gyn. You can thank fluctuations in estrogen levels and a sharp drop in progesterone right before Aunt Flo comes to town for your ballooning belly.

 

The good news: Two to three days into your period, your ovaries start producing dependable levels of supporting hormones again. This causes the bloating to subside (yay!). But what can you do in the meantime? Experts share their de-swelling solutions.

RELATED: 8 Totally Not-Dumb Period Questions You’ve Been Too Embarrassed To Ask

PICK PROTEIN- AND POTASSIUM-RICH FOODS
Fill your plate with ingredients that won’t cause you to puff up. “High-potassium foodslike bananas, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and asparagus help promote a good balance of fluids,” says Isabel Smith, a New York City-based celebrity dietitian and fitness expert. “The same goes for healthy fats like chia, nuts, and salmon. These help lower prostaglandins, the group of hormones that cause bloat and muscle contraction.

Protein is another safe bet—think chicken, fish, and tofu. “Foods that act as natural diuretics like celery, cucumbers, watermelon, lemon juice, garlic, and ginger will also make you feel lighter on your feet, even on your period,” says Dr Sherry Ross, an ob-gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.

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STAY AWAY FROM STUFF THAT CAUSES GAS
Yep, we’re looking at you broccoli and Brussels sprouts. They may inspire your favourite healthy-eating Pinterest boards, but they also contain a complex sugar called raffinose. Humans lack the enzyme to help break it down properly, which leads to gas and bloat. “Other dietary culprits in this category include beans, cabbage, cauliflower, and lettuce,” says Ross.

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KEEP UP YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE
We get it: It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing. But experts say getting your heart rate up is one of the best ways to alleviate PMS symptoms—including bloat. “People who live a more sedentary lifestyle tend to have more sluggish digestive systems,” says Ross. Sweating it out can also help keep you regular and reduce constipation. Lighter workouts like swimming and yoga are your best bet. High intensity exercises like Crossfit can promote inflammation, which adds to the bloat. 

RELATED: The Foods You Need To Help Fight PMS

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CUT BACK ON CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL
“Pre-menstrually, alcohol can enhance PMS symptoms like breast tenderness, mood swings, and bloating,” says Bitner. “And coffee can overstimulate the digestive tract and irritate the bowels, not to mention dehydrate you, which causes you to retain water.”  Hey, you’ll save some serious dough by bypassing your morning latte.

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POP AN OTC ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
Ibuprofen and Naprosyn (found in brands like Neurofen) block the chemicals that cause inflammation, and in turn, bloating, says Dr Kelly Roy, an ob-gyn in Phoenix. “A couple days before your period, take 200 to 400 milligrams every six to eight hours,” she says. 

RELATED: Six Reasons Your Vagina Hurts

TAKE A PASS ON CARBONATED AND SUGARY DRINKS
Chugging fizzy beverages might make you feel better temporarily, but they’ll leave you way more bloated than before, says Smith. The same goes for sugary drinks like Gatorade. “Don’t let brands that use artificial sweeteners fool you—they too cause you to puff up like a blowfish,” says Smith. Instead, rely on your good buddy water, and aim for eight glasses a day. “Mix in some green, peppermint, or fennel tea to help eliminate inflammatory mediators,” says Ross.

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SCORE MORE SHUT-EYE
“Sleep is often impacted by the pain of menstruation, bloating, and feeling out of sorts,” says Roy. It’s during these crucial hours, though, that the excess fluid in your belly is able to move back into the body and be eliminated, she explains. So aim to get eight hours a night—here are tips to help you drift off.

CONSIDER THE PILL
Oral contraception is not only great birth control, it also significantly reduces painful periods and stabilizes hormones, says Roy. “In fact, medical studies have shown that it lowers the effect of PMS by over 50 percent,” she says. That’s some serious incentive!

RELATED: What Happens To Your Body When You Quit Taking The Pill?

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Women Fleeing Domestic Violence Can Now Receive A One-Off Support Payment

It’s been labelled the shadow pandemic and the fact remains that for many women across Australia, domestic violence is a lived reality that doesn’t discriminate by age, occupation, or socio-economic status. Researchers have found that during Covid-19 lockdowns, there was a surge in family and domestic violence, with agencies experiencing a surge in demand as nearly half their clients reported an increase in controlling behaviours. 

As many who have lived through such turmoil and trauma can attest, the roadmap to fleeing such situations at home can be fraught with challenges and extremely difficult to navigate, particularly when such bureaucracy makes it even harder. Now, it’s been announced that women fleeing a violent relationship will be given a one-off $5,000 payment as part of a federal government trial scheme. 

Known as the “escaping violence payment scheme,” the government has set aside $144.5 million over the next two years to give women $1,500 cash, with the remainder to pay for goods and services, bond, school fees and other necessaries to establish a new safe home. UnitingCare Network will be tasked with delivering the payments while helping link women and their children with relevant community services. 

As the Daily Telegraph reports, “An analysis of domestic violence data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that while it is more common for women from poorer areas, women from high socio-economic areas are not immune from experiencing partner violence.”

As Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston explained, the trial has been introduced with the aim to help women overcome the financial barriers that might deter them from leaving a violent relationship. “We know that financial hardship as well as economic abuse - which may involve interfering with work or controlling or withholding money - reduces women’s ability to acquire and use money and makes it difficult to leave violent relationships,” she said. 

“The payments will assist people who need financial support to leave. We know the size of the house a woman is fleeing doesn’t matter. Often she bundles the kids into the car, maybe the dog too and they leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.”

To be eligible for a payment, women must be facing financial stress and have some evidence of domestic violence such as a referral from a family and domestic violence service provider with a risk assessment and safety plan, or an AVO, court order or police report. As UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said, “We believe that all people, especially women and their children, have the right to live freely and without fear, and this payment is an important step forward to ending violence against women and children.”

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800 

Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online. 

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.