Periods & Hydration:Keeping water intake during menstruation
Like many healthy habits, the goal of water intake, or drinking a certain amount of water each day can get tossed right out the window under certain circumstances. For folks who menstruate, those circumstances can occur on a more-or-less monthly basis from puberty to menopause — in other words: for decades.
Frustratingly, it’s as if many of the common physical issues related to periods are specifically designed to prevent proper hydration! Here are some of the reasons getting enough water can be tricky when “Aunt Flo” comes to town.
The Catch-22 of Bloating
The urge to abandon the hydration habit often starts even before the period arrives. The body knows what’s up, and begins retaining water for the upcoming event, causing bloating.
Who wants to drink more water when you’re already bloated? Probably nobody, but the urge to drink less leads to a vicious cycle all the way up to opening day. You drink less, so your body works harder to hold on to what it has, so you feel bloated and drink less… And then things really get going.
Diet Changes During Your Period
Even if you’re drinking the same number of glasses of water each day and feel like you’re running to the bathroom constantly, you’re probably less hydrated during your period than you realize. Cravings can cause many people to opt for sweet or salty snacks instead of water-rich fruits, veggies, and proteins, making the situation worse.
One diet change you should consider, though — cutting back on caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. These beverages have diuretic effects due to their caffeine and alcohol content, and also disrupt your sleep at a time when your body is already susceptible to inadequate rest.
Water & Menstrual Cramps
If you’re someone who suffers from painful menstrual cramps, there’s evidence that hydration can make a difference there as well. In a 2016 study on hydration’s role in pain perception, the results “suggest that a person's hydration status may be an important factor in their perception of acute pain.”
We all know our muscles need water to perform properly, so think of the period like a tough workout for the uterus and be sure to consume adequate amounts of water before, during, and after. Just avoid ice cold water, which some people report makes cramps worse. Try warm beverages like caffeine-free tea instead!