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Dehydration During Period: Causes, Risks & How to Avoid Tips

  • 7 min read

If you’ve ever noticed that you’re thirstier than usual leading up to and during your period, you’re not alone. Many people experience dehydration during periods for several reasons. Some hormonal factors make dehydration more likely, and unfortunately, dehydration can make some menstrual symptoms worse. 

 

This article will explain why you may be thirstier at some points of your menstrual cycle than others and how dehydration can affect your period. Finally, you’ll learn how to avoid dehydration every day, and especially during your period. 

dehydration and menstrual cycle

It might surprise you to learn that dehydration and menstruation are so closely linked that, for many people, being thirsty during periods is expected. The hormonal fluctuations that control the menstrual cycle can change how the body uses water. Cravings may lead people to consume fewer hydrating foods in favor of satisfying snacks. All this combined can increase the risk of dehydration during the period. 

 

That dehydration can, in turn, make many menstrual symptoms worse, such as bloating, cramps, headaches, and fatigue. This vicious cycle causes people to suffer through more period discomfort than they have to. By making a conscious effort to maintain a healthy hydration level, you can reduce your period symptoms to a more manageable level, naturally.

why am I so thirsty before my period?

While some may notice, others hardly notice thirst before their period and may naturally drink less during a time when your body may need more. If wondering - “Why do I get thirsty before my period?” There’s an excellent reason for this; your body needs more water during your period.

 

The cluster of symptoms typically recognized as premenstrual syndrome or PMS is triggered by a particular combination of hormonal factors. In the days leading up to a person’s period, there are changes in estrogen and progesterone levels and this can affect water retention.

 

It sounds counterintuitive, but water retention can actually be a sign of dehydration. Drinking more fluids can help flush the body and reduce retention. With water retention, instead of arriving at the cells where it’s most needed, this precious water leaks into the surrounding tissues. This means it may take more water to maintain the proper level of hydration during your period.

why am I so thirsty during my period?

If you often ask yourself, “Why am I so thirsty on my period?,” read on.

 

Some people may find themselves reaching for less healthy snacks and drinks around their menstrual cycle. Fruits, vegetables, and other healthy snacks contain more water than unhealthy snacks, but that’s not what most people find themselves craving. Sweets and salty snacks also cause an increase in water loss and a heightened need to drink or a sensation of thirst. 

 

Thirst is the body’s way of telling a person that they are becoming dehydrated. By the time a person begins to experience thirst, their body is already in the early stages of dehydration. The sensation of thirst should be considered a warning sign that needs attention right away. The increase in thirst around a person’s period stimulates them to replenish the fluids they’ve lost.

how can dehydration affect your period?

There are a lot of factors conspiring to make people dehydrated during period. Aside from making you thirsty, though, does dehydration affect menstruation? The answer is that period symptoms are heavily influenced by dehydration. Many common PMS and period symptoms can be triggered or made worse by dehydration.

 

Dehydration, with or without menstruation, is known to cause fatigue, constipation, and headaches. These symptoms, which are often present with PMS and during menstruation anyway, get much worse with dehydration. While proper hydration can’t eliminate them all, it can reduce the number of triggers that contribute to your overall PMS and menstrual symptoms. 

fatigue

The hormonal factors that cause PMS symptoms and period discomfort can include reduced serotonin levels for some, which can cause a person’s energy to dip around their period. Even without PMS, though, dehydration can cause a person to feel sluggish and fatigued. The combination of PMS and dehydration can make their fatigue worse than it needs to be.

 

Drinking a glass of water when you’re feeling drained can help ease some of the PMS fatigue. While even proper hydration can’t eliminate all the fatigue that comes with menstruation for most people, it can help a person avoid making it worse. By staying hydrated, a menstruating person can reduce the severity of their fatigue during their period.

bloating

All that extra fluid that leaks out of the blood vessels and into the surrounding tissue takes up space. That’s why many people experience swelling and bloating as their period draws near. Bloating is a common symptom of fluid retention, which we already know is both a cause and a result of dehydration.

 

The fluid retention triggered by the hormone levels in a menstruating person’s body isn’t entirely avoidable. There’s not much that a menstruating person can do to avoid hormone-induced water retention. However, staying hydrated can help to flush the retained fluid out of the body, easing the uncomfortable symptoms until the hormonal balance returns to normal. 

headache

The brain is susceptible to even minor levels of dehydration. Dehydration is also a common trigger for people who are prone to migraines. Other hormonal changes are known to trigger migraines, so people who experience them should pay special attention to their hydration level during their period. The combination of hormonal factors and dehydration could be a perfect storm for migraine sufferers.

cramps

The uterine contractions that can cause painful cramps are a common symptom for many people on their period.

 

Contractions can be unavoidable as part of menstruation but maintaining a good level of hydration can reduce the pain to a more manageable level for most people. Cramps and pelvic can be a symptom of something more serious than dehydration, so it's important to track your pain and communicate with your doctor if they are severe.

constipation to diarrhea

For many people, menstruation can trigger some unpleasant bowel symptoms. From mild discomfort to constipation or diarrhea, gut issues are a natural part of their PMS and menstrual experience.

 

Dehydration, as you could probably guess, only makes these tummy troubles more likely. Water is an essential component of soft stools, and lack of water can cause constipation. Combining this with typical menstrual discomfort can lead to some intensely unpleasant period days. Avoiding dehydration can help mitigate the severity of your symptoms.

why drinking water during periods is important

Thirst is your body’s way of telling you that it needs more water. The increase in thirst just before and during your period should trigger you to increase your fluid intake to compensate for the extra fluid loss that can lead to period dehydration. Even usually well-hydrated people need to drink more water to maintain the same hydration level during their periods.

 

If hydration itself isn’t enough motivation to drink more water, perhaps soothing PMS symptoms will be. By drinking water while during menstruation, you can reduce the severity of common unpleasant symptoms of PMS, such as headache, fatigue, bloating, constipation, and cramps. While dehydration doesn’t account for all these symptoms, a healthy hydration level can reduce your discomfort. 

how to treat menstruation dehydration

The secret to avoiding dehydration isn’t much of a secret at all. Instead, it’s a deceptively simple balancing act of consuming more water and controlling the amount you lose throughout the day. Drinking more water is part of this, and there are things that you can do to encourage yourself to do so. 

 

There’s more to it than just consuming more water, however. It’s essential to be aware of the other factors in your diet and lifestyle that can also contribute to dehydration. Recognizing the signs of dehydration in your body and reducing factors that can cause you to lose water more rapidly can help.

drink more water

Most people don’t drink as much water as they should. While there is some debate about how much water is necessary to maintain a healthy hydration level, most experts agree that we should all be drinking more. Avoiding dehydration is a matter of replenishing more fluids than your body uses or loses over a day.

 

If this were easy, of course, we would all be drinking plenty of water. Giving yourself regular reminders, such as alarms or apps on your phone, can help when you forget. Sipping from a straw can also trick you into drinking more than you think. Small hacks like these can get you drinking more water every day and make it easier to avoid dehydration.

caffeine and alcohol

As satisfying as they may be, alcohol and sweets can make regular period symptoms worse, such as bloating and fatigue. However, alcohol and caffeine have been shown to have a diuretic effect, increasing the amount of water lost by the body. If not replenished as quickly as it’s lost, this can trigger dehydration.

 

As discussed earlier, dehydration is also related to bloating, so all these factors can combine to create some very uncomfortable sensations. Avoiding or reducing caffeine or alcohol intake while on your period can help mitigate your symptoms. Moderation is key.

listen to your body

Your body is finely tuned to know what it needs and what it’s missing. If you pay attention to your body’s signals, it will often tell you what you need to know. Thirst is one of the body’s clearest signals that it needs more water, but there are others as well. Headaches should be taken as a sign of thirst, and hunger can even be a sign that your body wants water.

 

It should go without saying that you should always drink a glass of water when you feel thirsty, of course. But you should also drink a glass when you feel hungry, fatigued, or when you have a headache. Add in one more glass when you feel bloated to help attain a healthy hydration level.

final points on dehydration and period

The hormonal fluctuations responsible for a person’s menstrual cycle also influence how the body transports and processes water. A number of hormonal factors cause a person to experience an increased risk of dehydration just before and during their period. The body attempts to obtain the water it needs by signaling to you that it’s thirsty, which is why many people experience an increase in thirst leading up to and during their period.

 

Not only does the menstrual cycle lead to increased fluid loss, but the resulting dehydration can make most of the common PMS and menstrual symptoms worse. Drinking water can help you feel better during your period. It’s important to track the severity of your symptoms and speak with your doctor if you are experiencing any abnormal discomfort.

 

While maintaining healthy hydration can’t eliminate all of the unpleasant sensations that come with the period, drinking more water can reduce them more than you think. Next time you find yourself suffering from period symptoms, try enjoying an extra glass of water while you use your heating pad.

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