If you’ve ever stepped on the scale just before your period starts, you might have noticed you’re up a few pounds. But before you start freaking out, you should know that weight gain during your period is a very common side effect. There are a number of physical and biological reasons women are more prone to period weight gain in the last two weeks of their cycle. Some of these reasons could be natural changes that are happening in the body, but others could point towards a medical condition.
The estrogen and progesterone released from your ovaries are highest just before you start your period, says Dr. Octavia Cannon, past president of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists and co-owner of Arboretum Obstetrics and Gynecology. And that increase could make you prone to weight gain. “When the progesterone is high just prior to the menstrual cycle, it stimulates the appetite, so you eat more,” Cannon says.
Your brain may also be playing tricks on your body during this time. “When the estrogen drops and the menstrual bleeding starts, this also drops the body’s serotonin levels,” Cannon says. Low serotonin levels often cause sugar cravings, which may in turn provoke additional eating and weight gain.
Those menstrual hormones aren’t just messing with your appetite — they could be making you retain water, according to Dr. Praise Augustus, an OB-GYN with the Mount Sinai Health System.
If you’ve ever had insatiable sugar cravings leading up to your period, progesterone may be to blame. “This means that you would not process sugars the way you usually do, and it will hang out in blood for a little longer than usual thereby contributing to weight gain.” She says diabetic women are more likely to notice this, as they do daily finger sticks to check their sugar levels.
Around the first day of your period, Cannon says your body’s natural magnesium levels drop. “Since magnesium regulates the body’s hydration, low levels can cause dehydration, and dehydration is tricky,” she says. “It can make you think that you’re hungry, but you’re actually thirsty.” Low magnesium in the body can cause sugar cravings, so you end up eating more food instead of grabbing a glass of water. Cannon suggests opting for eight ounces of fluid before you go for an extra snack.
As hormone levels fluctuate, you may feel PMS symptoms like fatigue, bloating, and cramping. All of these can take a toll on your exercise regimen and contribute to weight gain, especially when paired with the other factors. While it might feel like the last thing you want to do, researchers have found eight weeks of aerobic exercise can actually decrease PMS symptoms.
7.A Medical Condition
While you may gain a little weight before your period, Augustus says it’s important to note that, for most women, that weight goes away right around the time you start to bleed. “Some women may notice a consistent weight gain, which is really from increased calorie intake from the prior month,” she says. If, however, your symptoms are becoming problematic and you’re seeing consistent weight gain, it’s important to see your doctor. You may have a condition like premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD — a more severe form of PMS), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or hypothyroidism, all of which may contribute to weight gain. Medical intervention may be necessary, and could ease your symptoms.
Article from Woman's Day. / Picture from this designer.