A vegan fitness blogger has shared a photo of the extreme bloating she experiences as a result of PMS, in order to show other women it’s “nothing to be ashamed of”.
Malin Olofsson told her 10,000 Instagram followers that she suffers from bloating every month when her period is due, to the extent that people wrongly assume she is pregnant.
“This is the visual signs of PMS for me and many other women [sic]. For some it’s less extreme, for some it’s more,” she captioned the image.
“Water retention is a very normal and common symptom of PMS. Some women will hardly notice it and some go through immense discomfort for a couple of days a month. It can start anytime between ovulation and your period.
“This is normal. This is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Olofsson went on to say that she used to feel pressure to hide her bloated stomach and would often try to suck it in, despite the pain.
But recently she decided to accept and embrace her body.
“I’ve decided that breathing is more important than what other people may or might [not] think,” she said.
“I’ve decided that my body’s reaction to the hormonal change is not going to be an aspect that I let contribute to my already unstable mental state. Because when I have PMS, I already feel like dying. And I’ve decided to love my body no matter how I feel about life.”
She ended her post with a message to other women who feel self-conscious about their bodies as a result of PMS.
“Do not blame your body for how you’re feeling. It is never your body’s fault. It is never anything wrong with how your body looks,” she said.
“Yes, your body might experience discomfort due to hormonal changes, so instead of making it worse through shaming your body, try doing the opposite.
“Realise that this is when you need extra self-care and self-love. Realise that you don’t have to be ashamed and hide. You are perfect and your body is just doing its job.”
More than 8,000 people have liked the image, with many women commenting to say Olofsson’s post helped them accept their own bloating.
“Thank you so much for posting. You are not alone. I get asked if I am pregnant on a monthly basis,” one user said.
Another added: “Thank you for showing me I’m not alone on this. I would go through long periods of self disgust and discomfort and thinking I was just fat... but my stomach was hard and looked so pregnant. Now I see it’s normal.”
According to Dr Helen Webberley, the dedicated GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy, it’s “perfectly normal to experience swelling as part of the menstrual cycle”.
“As levels of oestrogen and progesterone increase they can cause fluid retention. The less body fat a person has around their midriff, the more pronounced the bloating can appear,” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“There are a few things which can increase fluid retention - these include salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine, so reduce your intake. Avoid overly fatty foods which can be hard to digest and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
“Ironically, increasing the amount of water you drink can also reduce water retention. Aim for eight glasses a day. Exercise can help as it improves circulation.”
She added that if bloating is unusual or unexpected to you, then you should see a doctor.