Water retention: Relieve this premenstrual symptom

Water retention before your period can be uncomfortable and annoying — but lifestyle changes, medications and dietary supplements can help relieve this common premenstrual symptom. By Mayo Clinic Staff

Water retention is a classic symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For most women, water retention is just a monthly bother — but in some cases, it can be severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Here's help feeling better.

Why water retention happens

Premenstrual water retention causes a bloated, heavy feeling the week or two before your period begins. What causes water retention and other PMS symptoms is unclear, but hormonal changes seem to play a major role. Heredity might be a factor as well. Your diet — such as a lack of certain vitamins or too much salt — might also contribute to water retention.

Put lifestyle changes to work

Taking good care of yourself can help banish water retention. Follow these tips:

  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Women who participate in regular physical activity generally report fewer PMS symptoms.
  • Skip the salt. Limiting the amount of salt in your diet can help prevent water retention. Don't add extra salt to food at the table or during cooking, and eat fewer processed foods. Also pay attention to hidden sources of sodium, such as soy sauce, canned vegetables, soups and deli meats.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Nov. 12, 2011 See more In-depth