For many women, periods mean miserable cramps, stubborn breakouts, and lots of bloating, but is it possible to actually put on a few pounds during your cycle? Turns out, yes — and for that you can thank those fluctuating hormones. (Naturally.)
"It's common for women to retain water during their periods, which can result in a temporary increase in the weight on the scale," Angela Chaudhari, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, told POPSUGAR. "This is because your progesterone hormone is predominant just before your period. Progesterone is responsible for water weight gain by allowing fluids to leak out of your blood vessels into surrounding tissues."
And that's not the only way progesterone can cause you to put on pounds. "It also causes moodiness, acne, and PMS cravings just before your period, which certainly don't help the weight gain around your period," Dr. Chaudhari continued.
So, just how big a shift should you expect? "This is dependent on the individual, but can be up to 10 pounds. Most women complain about fluctuations of one to five pounds," she said.
It may seem counter intuitive, but the best way to stem water retention is to drink more fluids. "Drinking helps keep more fluid in your blood vessels where it belongs, leading to better hydration and flushing out [fluid] from your system," said Dr. Chaudhari. "With the water weight gain and the bleeding, you may be dehydrated, which can cause a drop in energy levels as well."
Keep a water bottle on hand and drink up. "It is recommended that you drink two liters of water per day — that's about eight 8-ounce glasses," Dr. Chaudhari explained. "Most women don't get that on a regular basis, but it's even more important to do so around your cycle."