If you have ever felt heavier or more bloated during your period, then you are not alone and it is not just in your head either.
Do you weigh more on your period? Yes, the fact is that menstruating might make you add on extra pounds which were not there before.
But don’t worry, it is completely normal for weight fluctuation during your period and it is usually not anything to worry about.
It is also not permanent weight gain. You will usually gain weight in the couple of days before your period begins and then this will start to drop off over the first few days of bleeding.1
Here we explore the reasons for weight gain and what you can do to minimise those uncomfortable feelings.
How much weight do you gain during your period?
Weight gain during your period differs from person to person, as every is body is different.
The average weight gain during periods is around two to six pounds.2
Why do you gain weight during your period?
There are a number of reasons why you might gain weight during your period and these are all down to the changes that women experience in their bodies during their menstruation.
Changes to your hormones
Just before your period, oestrogen and progesterone decrease rapidly, letting your body know that it is time to start menstruation.
As these hormones also control the way your body regulates fluid, when they fluctuate, your tissues retain more water.
Water retention causes swelling or puffiness, which may occur in areas of your body such as the breasts and stomach and this increases your body weight but not fat.3
Ever wanted to eat a life-size bar of chocolate during your period? Or maybe a cheesy pizza?
Unfortunately being on your period does not tend to make you crave salad or veg – it is the sweet and salty food you want to eat during this time.
Eating salty foods and simple carbohydrates can lead to fluid retention and result in extra water weight.4
The hormone progesterone builds up in your body before your period starts, slowing down your digestive system and this can result in constipation before and during your period.5
This can feel uncomfortable and it also means that you might retain a little extra weight which your body would normally get rid of.
Your stomach might feel tight and swollen around five days before your period and then a few days into menstruation, causing pre-period weight gain.
This is down to hormonal changes, which increase gas in your gastrointestinal tract and cause bloating, making you feel heavier.6
Is there any way to prevent this period weight gain?
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for preventing weight gain during your period.
However, there are a few things you can do to reduce water retention and bloating.
You should try to practise these healthy habits throughout the month, as this will help to reduce weight gain and water retention during your period:
Making sure you drink plenty of water is the first piece of advice, even if it might seem counterintuitive.
Your body tends to conserve more fluid if you are dehydrated, so make sure you stay hydrated.7
The NHS recommends drinking six to eight glasses of water each day8 so make sure you keep a glass topped up on your desk so you can keep sipping throughout the day.
Try not to give into those cravings for sweets, chocolate and junk food.
Keep the kitchen well stocked with healthier treats such as fruit, nuts and seeds for when you feel like you need to snack.
Ok, so when you are suffering with cramps, working up a sweat in the gym might not be top of your to do list.
However, sweating will help you to get rid of some of the excess water that your body is holding on to.9
If you simply cannot face a high intensity workout, why not try a relaxing yoga session or going for a long walk instead?
When weight gain is not normal
If you are experiencing irregular periods and weight gain, then you could be suffering from underlying issues like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (or PCOS), which is an imbalance of reproductive hormones that causes problems with your metabolism.10
Rapid or persistent weight gain could also point to other issues.11 You should see your doctor if you are worried.
Last upload: 29th January 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.