Why It's So Easy To Get Dehydrated On Your Period

A typical woman will experience about 450 menses in her lifetime, from the time of her first cycle until menopause, per WebMD. While most people's menses last three to five days on average, they can go as long as seven. Adding those figures up, the average woman spends about 3,500 days of her life menstruating. Although factors like weight gain or loss and dietary changes can affect a woman's period length, we know that nobody is exempt from the unpleasant impact of periods.

When you're on your period, your body's hormone levels fluctuate, causing your body and mind to be on the fritz. Some common symptoms of menstrual syndrome, per the United Kingdom's National Health Service, include bloating, breast tenderness, emotional ups and downs, skin issues, and decreased interest in sex. Interestingly, many people have also reported experiencing increased thirst right before or during their period, causing them to drink more water during menstruation. Does that mean our bodies are more prone to dehydration during periods? If so, how does hydration affect our menstruation health? These facts about periods and dehydration might surprise you.

Menstruation and dehydration go hand in hand

It turns out that you're more likely to get thirsty when you're on your period. The reason being is that at the beginning of your menstrual cycle, your progesterone and estrogen levels are low, causing your body to retain water and leave you feeling bloated and fatigued, ob-gyn Kendra Segura tells PopSugar. When your body retains water, fluids leak into the surrounding tissues instead of remaining in your blood vessels. This may sound contradictory, but water retention can be a sign of hydration because dehydration slows your metabolism and causes your body to retain water in an attempt to preserve electrolytes and other nutrients. Therefore, you need to drink more water to flush your body and keep it rehydrated.

To keep bloatedness, muscle cramps, and fatigue in check, drink at least eight glasses of water per day, Dr. Segura advises. Meanwhile, refrain from consuming alcohol and caffeine because they can worsen dehydration. If you have migraines, drink more water when on your period because dehydration is one of the most common triggers of headaches and migraines. Regular water intake during menstruation also aids tremendously in diminishing menstrual pains, reducing tension, and shortening the bleeding duration, per findings from a study in the journal BMC Women's Health. Therefore, keeping your body hydrated will make your period so much easier to bear. If you let your body be dehydrated during your menses, your menstrual symptoms will only get worse.

Foods that keep you hydrated during your period

Did you know your diet can affect if you're dehydrated, including while on your period? "Dehydration can make cramps worse, so women should ensure they drink plenty of water, and consume alcohol and caffeine in moderation," says Dr. Caroline Overton (via The Guardian). Aside from water, Dr. Overton also recommends drinking herbal tea, such as chamomile tea, hibiscus, peppermint tea, or rooibos, to cope with menstrual pains, reduce stress, and have better sleep. To jazz up your pain-fighting menstrual diet while staying hydrated, nutritionist Emma Thornton from A.Vogel recommends adding fresh, nutrient-loaded smoothies made of leafy greens to your dietary approaches. 

For instance, a glass of kiwi and ginger smoothie, which are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, can give your body a boost of energy while reducing period cramps. A smoothie made of almond milk and spinach – great sources of magnesium and iron – can be helpful for those who're always struggling with fatigue and stress during their period. If bloating is your perpetual menstrual issue, add celery to your daily smoothie for a healthy dose of bloat-fighting potassium content. If you struggle to manage your menstrual symptoms, replacing red meat, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine in your daily diet with leafy greens and plenty of water will help you feel better.