Beat the Bloat: The PMS Bloat – Why it Happens and Five Natural Ways to Manage it

Do you notice that you feel more ‘puffy’ during certain times of the month? You are not the only one. Bloating is one of the most common premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.

Period bloating is the feeling of fullness or heaviness in the abdomen, most common right before your period starts. Although you may feel like you have gained a few pounds, this uncomfortable sensation is actually due to fluid retention in the body.

Why does bloating happen and how do you beat the bloat?

Why Does Bloating Happen?

PMS bloating occurs due to the natural fluctuations in female hormones during your cycle. There are two main hormones that influence your cycle, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones can cause bloating as they have an effect the body’s fluid regulation mechanisms. Estrogen tends to increase fluid retention. This is because estrogen causes sodium and fluid retention within the cells.

There are four main subsets of PMS: PMS-A (anxiety), PMS-D (depression), PMS-H (hyperhydration), PMS-C (craving). Bloating is a common symptom of PMS – Hyperhydration. Other symptoms of this subset include: breast tenderness, water retention, swelling of extremities, and weight gain.

How Do You Beat the Bloat Naturally?

  • Magnesium
    • Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body! It is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions. Magnesium can also help to fight PMS symptoms including, anxiety, cramping and fluid retention due to hormonal fluctuations.
    • Women who experience more PMS symptoms tend to have lower magnesium levels.
    • A study in the Journal of Women’s Health showed that magnesium supplementation helped to decrease symptoms such as weight gain, breast tenderness and abdominal bloating.
    • Be sure that you are getting the right type magnesium. Magnesium bisglycinate is the most easily absorbed form of magnesium and won’t cause loose stools that other forms of magnesium, like magnesium citrate.
    • Food sources of magnesium include dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, tofu and beans. So feel free to give into those dark chocolate cravings in moderation.
  • Cut Down on Sugar
    • After you eat, insulin is released into the bloodstream to help your cells take up the sugar (glucose) from food.
    • High sugar or carb intake leads to high levels of glucose in the blood and as a result, an increase in insulin to combat it. Increased insulin can lead to sodium and fluid retention and worsen bloating.
    • Be sure to stick to high fiber foods and complex carbohydrates, and cut down on refined and processed sugars, especially before your period.
  • Avoid Salty Foods
    • When sodium moves into the cell, it pulls water along with it. Estrogen causes sodium retention, and thus, water retention in cells. Avoiding salty foods can help to lower sodium in the body.
    • Watch out for processed foods, canned soups, restaurant foods and salty chips and snacks.
    • Suggested sodium intake is 1500-2300 mg per day for the average healthy adult (ages 14-50).
  • Add in Some Botanical Diuretics
    • Diuretics increase the production of urination. This can help reduce water and salt retention, especially when you are feeling bloated. Natural diuretics include:
      • Dandelion
      • Burdock
      • Green Tea
    • Get Moving!
      • Women who regularly exercise have been shown to have less PMS symptoms, including bloating.
      • Sweating also releases fluids and sodium, further improving bloating.

Disclaimer – The information in this article is for informational purposes only. Always check with your health care practitioner before making any changes in your diet or supplements.


Colin P. White, Christine L. Hitchcock, Yvette M. Vigna, and Jerilynn C. Prior, “Fluid Retention over the Menstrual Cycle: 1-Year Data from the Prospective Ovulation Cohort,” Obstetrics and Gynecology International, vol. 2011, Article ID 138451, 7 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/138451

Health Canada. “Sodium In Canada.” Government of Canada, 2017, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/sodium.html.

Horita, Shoko et al. “Insulin Resistance, Obesity, Hypertension, and Renal Sodium Transport.” International Journal of Hypertension 2011 (2011): 391762. PMC. Web. 22 Nov. 2017.

Samadi, Zeinab, Farzaneh Taghian, and Mahboubeh Valiani. “The Effects of 8 Weeks of Regular Aerobic Exercise on the Symptoms of Premenstrual Syndrome in Non-Athlete Girls.” Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research 18.1 (2013): 14–19. Print.

Stachenfeld NS. Sex Hormone Effects on Body Fluid Regulation. Exercise and sport sciences reviews. 2008;36(3):152-159. doi:10.1097/JES.0b013e31817be928.

Walker, Ann F. et al. “Magnesium Supplementation Alleviates Premenstrual Symptoms Of Fluid Retention.” Journal Of Women’s Health, vol 7, no. 9, 1998, pp. 1157-1165. Mary Ann Liebert Inc, doi:10.1089/jwh.1998.7.1157.

Natural medicines in the clinical management of premenstrual syndrome. Natural Medicine

Comprehensive Database. http://naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Nov 20, 2017.

PMS Guidelines. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter 2000;16(8):160803.

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