Consider medications

If you can't control premenstrual water retention with lifestyle changes alone, various medications might help. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your desire to become pregnant and other factors, options to treat water retention might include:

  • Diuretics. These medications — sometimes referred to as water pills — are available by prescription to help reduce fluid buildup. Diuretics do have some side effects, however, and it's rare that water retention alone would warrant use of this type of medication. Be aware that taking ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and diuretics at the same time can cause kidney damage.
  • Birth control pills. Some research suggests that oral contraceptives — which prevent ovulation — can help reduce the physical symptoms of PMS.

Choose supplements carefully

Countless vitamins, minerals and herbs have been touted as cures for PMS symptoms, but few have been proved effective. Still, some research shows promise for:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • B vitamins, such as thiamin and riboflavin
  • Vitamin E

Consult your doctor before taking dietary supplements or herbal remedies. Taking excessive amounts of these products or taking them with other medications can be harmful. For example, too much vitamin E can be problematic for women who have diabetes or heart disease.

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 of abdominal bloating — including irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal problems. Your doctor can also help determine the best treatment for you.

Nov. 25, 2014 See more In-depth