Easily one of the most undesirable traits of menses is bloating. It comes at the absolute worst times, like when you’re squeezing into a tight dress for a cocktail party or trying to get spicy in the bedroom. In some cases, bloating can affect intimacy with a sexual partner and can hinder pleasure.
So, how to reduce period bloating and to cope with this temporary dilemma. Understanding what bloating is and the cause is step number one.
What is Bloating?
The Office of Women’s Health tells us that over 90% of vulva-havers say they experience premenstrual symptoms, including bloating. For those who’re bloated, the abdomen feels uncomfortably full, tender, and can sometimes hurt. At its worst, bloating gives a feeling like a belly is a balloon full of air stretched to maximum capacity. There are many potential causes of bloating, such as gas, digestive issues, or menstruation.
Depending on the month, some might bloat a week or two before their period, some after, and some don’t experience any abdominal discomfort at all (lucky them!).
Bloating can lead to:
- Discomfort or pain
- Self-consciousness or negative body image
- Intimacy issues
What Causes Period Bloating?
You might be wondering: why do I get bloated on my period? What is happening when you get cramps and bloating but no period?
As an entirely natural process – hormonal changes occur that regulate the menstrual cycle. Those who experience extreme bloating before periods are experiencing significant hormonal changes. You may need to make some changes to your lifestyle to reduce period bloating to ease things up.
How Bloating Can Affect Sexual Intimacy
As mentioned before, being bloated is not a sexy feeling. Experiencing frequent bloating can affect someone’s desire to be intimate and their self-confidence. There is no reason to feel shame or low self-esteem from period bloating as it’s very common and will pass.
Also, someone who’s bloated may feel physical discomfort, and sometimes even pain during or after sex. Communication with your sexual partner is the best way to navigate this situation. Whether you aren’t in the mood or are experiencing pain, it is important to let your sexual partner know how you’re feeling. If you are not both feeling pleasure, then it simply isn’t the right time.
Keep in mind, if you experience frequent discomfort or pain during sex, it is best to seek professional help if you are suffering from something more severe than temporary bloating.
What Helps With Period Bloating?
Many of you vulva-havers are praying for ways to eliminate bloating during your period. Although there is no one way to stop period bloating, several helpful dietary and natural remedies can help relieve period bloating.
Tips for Managing Period Bloating
Reduce salty foods
Salt makes your body retain water. Lowering sodium intake can be beneficial to reducing bloating and gas before periods. Eat more fresh foods and use other spices and herbs in place of salt.
Drink tons of water! H-2-O flushes the salt out of your body and assists in period bloating relief.
Move your body
Yoga and other gentle exercises can help reduce gas by moving around the abdominal muscles in certain ways. Meditative movement is also relaxing and helpful for de-stressing.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Caffeine and alcohol can exacerbate period bloating. In addition to being dehydrating, both stimulants can also create inflammation, causing bloating leading up to menses.
Take a bath
A warm bath will not only be relaxing, but help relieve a bloated stomach before or during periods. Adding some essential oils and Epsom salts may also aid in relaxing the abdominal muscles.
Consider essential oils
Some research suggests that intaking a supplement of fennel and curcumin essential oils can help relieve bloating and abdominal discomfort. However, if you go with this option, make sure to discuss your choice and dosage with a doctor.
An abdominal massage can increase circulation, get the bowels moving, and help with lymphatic drainage associated with bloating. It may not get rid of period bloat, but it may help. You can even ask your sexual partner to massage your abdomen for you – this way you can still share intimacy while being open about your bloating.
*You (or a partner) can gently rub starting with hands under the ribcage and massage in a small circular motion moving slowly around the abdomen towards the pelvic floor.
Overall, bloating is a normal part of life. We all get bloated from time to time, but knowing when you are prone to bloating and following the helpful tips above can make life a little easier.
So long as your symptoms occur around your period, you can assume that the bloating is due to hormonal changes and will come and go naturally.