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Do Periods Cause Weight Gain?

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Things were looking good, you had been regularly exercising, feeling energetic and were happy that you could easily fit into your favorite tube top when suddenly all your efforts go down the drain and you think “from where did all this weight come?” A week or two before their periods’ lot of girls experience bloating, water retention, cravings, and tiredness, all of which can leave you with a few extra inches.

They say by the end of your periods, these PMS symptoms disappear, and you are back to your shape. Are you? It totally varies from girl to girl. Some sail smoothly; however, some end up gaining a few extra pounds.

But why does this happen?

We can broadly divide the menstrual cycle into 2 parts – Follicular phase and Luteal phase. The follicular phase is before ovulation, and the luteal phase after the mature egg is released from the ovary. In both the stages, two main female hormones – estrogen and progesterone are working together to regulate the cycle. The levels of both these hormones keep fluctuating throughout your menstrual cycle in a pattern. If at any point there is a disharmony between the estrogen and progesterone pattern in the luteal phase, you experience symptoms like water retention and bloating and cravings.

Research suggests that the fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels can be the reason for puffy eyes, swollen hands and protruding belly. Progeterone dominance is a condition when the progesterone levels are high for a long time or estrogen levels are too low. This results in water retention and bloating in women which goes away by the end of your periods. It is important to drink lots of water and reduce salt consumption to keep a check on water retention.

In the luteal phase, the estrogen begins to fall resulting in mood swings and cravings. This is totally opposite of what happens in the follicular stage, where the rising estrogen and consequently increasing serotonin makes you feel happy and vibrant. As the serotonin levels drop the body starts craving for carbs and sugar. Carbs help to raise serotonin levels…the body is just trying to keep your spirits high. Well, one donut or ice cream or chocolate won’t harm you, but it’s our inability to stop at one, which then results in weight gain.

Yes, PMS symptoms are common, but it is a sign that something isn’t right. Your hormones are not in balance which can be due to nutritional deficiencies and stress. This makes it critical to make healthy lifestyle choices when dealing with PMS symptoms or it becomes a vicious circle, and we end up gaining weight with every cycle. A lot of girls do experience weight gain before their periods. Observe your PMS symptoms for a couple of months. Maintain a diary and record your physiological changes and mood swings both before and after your periods. Becoming aware of the problem area is the first step towards resolving it. Resort to natural ways to help reduce the PMS symptoms. But if that doesn’t help, you need to consult a gynaecologist for expert advice.

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