Water retention is a common complaint before and during menstrual period. For many women, this clears up naturally once your flow stops – but for some of us, the feeling of water weight can continue even after your period ends. Let’s look at some of the reasons you could be hanging on to water weight after your period, and what you may be able to do about it.
What is water weight, anyway?
If you’ve ever wondered why the number of the scales tends to creep up before and sometimes during your period, a lot of it comes down to water weight. That doesn’t mean you’re drinking too much water though: this is happening on a microscopic level.
Each cell in your body hangs onto a tiny extra droplet of water, it adds up to a sometimes noticeable increase. This can leave you feeling bloated and puffy. In some cases, it can even make you feel washed out and tired.
Water retention and the menstrual cycle: What’s the link?
The shifting balance of hormones during the menstrual cycle affects your body’s fluid balance. In general, you tend to hang onto more water in the second half of your cycle, after your body releases an egg at ovulation.
It’s thought that this is due to the changing levels of progesterone. Progesterone’s job is to get your body ready to support a hypothetical pregnancy. One of the ways is to slow down your digestion, encouraging your body to hang on to more fluids and nutrients. When your period is over, progesterone drops, and you tend to lose that extra fluid as your hormone balance changes.
What causes water retention after period?
Water retention tends to clear up after your period ends, but not always. If you’re still hanging onto more water weight than usual, it could be a sign of hormone balance being a little out of whack.
For instance, if your progesterone levels remain elevated even after your period, your body may not get the hint to drop that extra fluid. On the other hand, hormone imbalances can also lead to heavy periods for some women. If heavy periods have you down with a case of anemia, it can cause your body to retain more water to compensate for the blood you lose.
Remedies for water retention after period
Water retention can be pretty uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless to fight it. You can encourage your body to flush out some of the excess water and toxins.
Do the cockroach
OK, it might sound like a like a weird ‘60s dance craze , but this simple exercise is great for getting the blood flowing through your legs and draining out puffy calves and ankles. Just lie down on your back and raise your arms and legs straight up, so they’re above your head. Relax your muscles and shake your limbs out for 3 sets of 30 to 60 seconds at a time.
Take a footbath
Warming up your feet can encourage good blood flow throughout your body. You don’t need anything too fancy for it: just fill a bucket with comfortably warm water (around 104 F) and let your feet soak for 10 to 20 minutes.
Try a hot-and-cold face compress
If water retention has your face feeling puffy, try alternating hot and cold compresses. Just heat up one damp towel, and cool down another one. Gently apply one of these alternately to your face for 20 seconds at a time. This will help improve the blood circulation in your face, and then clear out water weight and leave you feeling refreshed.
Do stretching exercises
Even if you’re not a regular at yoga class, it’s a good habit for improving blood circulation and relieving water retention to get into stretching your back, arms and legs regularly. Try limbering up with some toe-touches or knee rolls after you take a shower or before you get ready for bed.
Prevention of water retention after period
Pass on the salt
When your sodium level increases, it encourages your body to hang onto more water to compensate. When you’re trying to flush out water weight, avoid foods with too much-added salt and keep an eye on your sodium intake.
Like sodium, alcohol dehydrates your body, and your body tries to cover the shortfall by retaining water. Steer clear of alcoholic drinks as much as possible when you’re retaining water.
Get enough potassium
Getting enough potassium allows you to clear up excess fluids. Meet your dietary potassium intake through pumpkin, tomatoes, bananas and apples when you’re retaining water.
Water retention after periods isn’t something you need to live with
Water retention after periods is often down to the hormone imbalances. You can support a healthy hormone balance by making sure that you’re getting the right balance of rest, exercise and nutrition in your daily life.
But if you’re regularly experiencing water retention after periods, or it’s going alongside with other uncomfortable symptoms, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor to see whether there’s an underlying health condition your body is trying to warn you about.