water retention, premenstrual, symptom, menstrual, women's healthWater retention (also called edema) occurs when fluid builds up inside your body. Some women notice water retention every month before their period. Hormone imbalances and a woman’s diet can cause premenstrual water retention.

Water retention can be uncomfortable and cause stiffness, achiness, and puffiness in hands, feet, ankles, and legs. Other women might experience tender breasts, a general achiness, weight gain or bloating, or stiff joints.

Some women experience mild symptoms a day before their period begins; others experience symptoms during the five days before their period that interfere with their normal activities.

Have you noticed that your body retains water regularly before your period? Here are a few tips to feel better.

Relieve and Reduce Water Retention

To reduce premenstrual water retention, consider:

  • Limit salt in your diet, especially from processed foods.
  • Increase magnesium. Nuts, whole grains, leafy, green vegetables, and, happily, dark chocolate are all excellent sources of magnesium. Magnesium is also available as a supplement.
  • Increase Vitamin B6. Bananas, potatoes, walnuts, and, meat are rich in vitamin B6.
  • Diuretics.  Prescription diuretics are commonly called water pills. Their first effect is to increase urination and reduce fluid buildup.
  • Avoid refined carbs before your menstrual cycle. Processed sugars and grains (table sugar and white flour) are examples of refined carbs.
  • Relaxation and Movement. Regular exercise and relaxation techniques (meditation and yoga) can relieve water retention as well as other PMS symptoms. Lying or sitting with the legs raised a few times a day can help as well.
  • Massage. A massage can help improve circulation. Strokes should move toward the heart, and pressure from the massage mustn’t cause pain.

When to Seek Treatment

Talk to your doctor if you have tried these solutions and continue to be bothered by monthly fluid retention. It can help if you show him or her a symptom diary for the past few months. The notes can help you and your doctor to eliminate other causes and confirm that your symptoms are related to your menstrual cycle.

However, fluid retention can also be a symptom of a serious medical condition such as kidney disease or heart failure. If you experience sudden or severe water retention, get medical help immediately.

If you’re experiencing fluid retention from PMS or another reason, our physicians at Creekside Center for Women would be glad to create an individualized health plan for you. Call our office at 479-582-9268 to set up an appointment.