Do You Gain Weight on Your Period? What to Know

Medically Reviewed By Stacy A. Henigsman, DO

Gaining weight on your period can be a typical, expected effect. Some researchers have reported average weight increases of around 1.1 pounds (lbs) during menstruation. This can occur as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is a group of symptoms that develop in the weeks before your period. It occurs due to the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle. PMS causes physical and emotional symptoms, including many factors that may lead to weight gain.

Other conditions can also contribute to weight gain, some of which may require medical care. Talk with a doctor if you notice any rapid or significant weight changes.

Learn more about why people gain weight during their periods, related symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

Why do people gain weight during their periods?

Blue measuring tape
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Many factors may contribute to weight changes during a period. Some may be due to the temporary physical changes in the body caused by the menstrual cycle, whereas others are due to how PMS can affect your habits.

Hormonal changes

Before your period starts, estrogen levels drop significantly Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source while progesterone rises Trusted Source Wiley Peer reviewed journal Go to source .

Estrogen and progesterone can influence how the body controls fluids. Changes in these hormone levels can lead to water retention.

As a result, your weight and body composition may temporarily increase around your period due to fluid buildup rather than gaining fat.

A small 2023 study Trusted Source Wiley Peer reviewed journal Go to source monitored and analyzed body changes in 42 women twice a week during their menstrual cycle. Study authors reported an average weight gain of around 1.1 pounds (lb), mostly due to water retention during menstruation.

Bloating

Bloating is a common symptom of PMS. Gas and water retention due to Trusted Source Wiley Peer reviewed journal Go to source hormonal changes can cause Trusted Source Office on Women's Health Governmental authority Go to source bloating.

In addition to weight gain that water retention may temporarily cause, bloating can cause the stomach to look larger. This may add to the appearance of a weight increase.

Decrease in magnesium

Magnesium levels tend to decrease before menstruation starts.

Low magnesium levels have been linked to low serotonin production. As a result, you may experience cravings and appetite increases.

A 2023 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source also suggests that a lack of magnesium may contribute to water retention, possibly contributing to temporary weight gain.

Eating patterns

Progesterone can lead to increases in appetite and cravings. As progesterone levels rise before menstruation, you may be more likely to want to eat more.

If you eat more than your body needs to support your activity level, the body stores the excess energy as fat, leading to weight gain.

Your appetite may also change due to Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source estrogen’s effect on serotonin. Serotonin can reduce Trusted Source American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Peer reviewed journal Go to source appetite, and estrogen regulates it. Estrogen levels are lower during your period, as are serotonin levels, leading to increases in your appetite and cravings for sweet foods.

Added sugars can have a high number of calories, which may also contribute to weight gain.

Skipping physical activity

Some people may find their energy levels decrease Trusted Source Office on Women's Health Governmental authority Go to source before and during their period. PMS symptoms may also decrease motivation or make physical activity feel uncomfortable.

Not getting enough physical activity can contribute to weight gain.

Q: How much weight can you gain on your period?

Anonymous

A: Studies suggest that the average weight gain during a period is 1–5 lb. This weight gain is usually temporary and goes away once your period is over.

Stacy A. Henigsman, DO Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Weight increases due to fluid retention, gastrointestinal problems, and bloating may cause feelings of swelling, puffiness, and tenderness.

Other Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source physical symptoms of PMS can include:

Emotional symptoms of PMS can include:

How do you deal with weight gain during a period?

Here are some ways to help treat or manage weight gain and bloating during a period.

  • Staying hydrated: Not drinking enough fluids can worsen Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source water retention, as dehydration may encourage the body to store more water. Talking with a doctor or registered dietitian about how much water you should drink, as this can vary per person, can be helpful.
  • Staying active: Regular physical activity can help Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source alleviate bloating and may help reduce Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source weight gain from eating more food than your body requires. Consider trying to be active after waking when energy levels are typically higher. Finding a manageable, lower intensity activity may also help you stay active during this time. Adjusting your habits, such as activity, to your menstrual cycle is called cycle-syncing.
  • Eating a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet can help you take in enough magnesium and also manage cravings and appetite increases. You can talk with a doctor or dietitian about what dietary approach and food intake levels they recommend. Also, consider preparing healthy snacks in advance to help you avoid snacking on high sugar foods or other ingredients you might crave.
  • Asking your doctor about magnesium supplements: Talk with your doctor about testing your magnesium levels around your menstrual cycle. If your levels are too low, they may recommend magnesium supplements or eating foods high in magnesium.

Read more about magnesium supplements, including benefits, safety, and types.

Medical treatment options

If lifestyle approaches do not seem to be helpful, consider talking with your doctor about medical treatments. Options can include:

  • Diuretics: Talk with your doctor about whether diuretic medications may be safe and appropriate for you. Diuretic medications or “water” pills can help reduce Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source fluid buildup, so they may help address excess water retention.
  • Hormonal birth control: Hormonal treatments can help reduce and relieve PMS symptoms, including those that can lead to weight gain. However, reactions to hormonal treatments vary, so it may take trial and error to find the best option for your symptoms. Some options include:
    • combined oral contraceptive pills
    • estrogen gel or patches
    • gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analog medications (for severe PMS)
    • the synthetic hormone danazol (Danocrine)

Can you prevent weight gain during a period?

You may not be able to prevent weight gain during a period completely.
Helpful ways Trusted Source Office on Women's Health Governmental authority Go to source to prevent or reduce PMS effects such as bloating and water retention can include:

  • getting regular physical activity
  • staying hydrated
  • quitting smoking if you smoke
  • getting enough fiber in your diet
  • managing stress, such as with meditation or psychotherapy

Limiting or avoiding the following foods and ingredients may also help:

It’s important that you always talk with a doctor or dietitian before making significant changes to your diet.

Other frequently asked questions

Stacy A. Henigsman, DO, reviewed the answers to these commonly asked questions about weight gain associated with a period.

When does period weight gain start?

You may first notice weight gain a few days before your period starts to a few days after.

However, not everyone will have the same effects or symptom timeline.

When does period weight go away?

Weight gain due to PMS symptoms, such as water retention, may go away or improve by the end of your period or the first week of your menstrual cycle.

However, some causes of weight gain, such as overeating or physical inactivity, may lead to longer-term weight increases.

Summary

Some people do gain weight while on their period. This can happen due to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) causing temporary water retention and bloating. You may also experience less motivation for physical activity and appetite increases that contribute to overeating.

Talk with your doctor if you notice any symptoms of PMS or have questions about your weight.

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Medical Reviewer: Stacy A. Henigsman, DO
Last Review Date: 2024 Feb 7
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