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Water retention: Relieve this premenstrual symptom

Water retention before your period can be annoying. Understand what might help relieve this premenstrual symptom.

Updated: 2022-12-03

Is water retention a regular premenstrual symptom for you? Here's help to feel better.

Why water retention happens

Premenstrual water retention is likely caused by fluctuations in your hormones. Your diet also might play a role.

Most women who menstruate experience symptoms such as bloating one to two days before the start of their periods. Others regularly experience symptoms during the five days before their periods that interfere with some of their normal activities. This is called premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Getting relief

To reduce premenstrual water retention, consider:

  • Limiting salt in your diet. Eating a lot of salty food might make water retention worse.
  • Magnesium. Taking magnesium supplements might help reduce water retention. Talk to your doctor before taking a supplement.
  • Water pills (diuretics). These medications are available by prescription to help reduce fluid buildup. Be aware that taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), and diuretics at the same time can cause kidney damage.

Some evidence also suggests that regular aerobic exercise and relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and massage, can lessen PMS symptoms.

When to explore other options

If you continue to be troubled by monthly water retention, consult your doctor. He or she might suggest that you keep a symptom diary for a few months. This can help confirm that your symptoms are related to your menstrual cycle, rather than other causes. Your doctor can also help determine the best treatment for you.