When you’re on your period, you’re probably not as eager to reach for healthy, whole foods as you are chips and chocolate (those cravings are powerful), but if there’s one thing you want to be more mindful of during this time of the month, it’s drinking plenty of water.
Dehydration occurs when your body uses or loses more fluid than you take in, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms can include extreme thirst, fatigue, dizziness, and more — and while you probably know to take precautions on a really hot day or while exercising, you’re also more likely to become dehydrated when you’re on your period.
“This is because at the start of your menstrual cycle your hormone levels progesterone and estrogen are low, and this can cause your body to retain water, which can leave you feeling bloated and sluggish,” Kendra Segura, MD, an ob-gyn in southern California, told POPSUGAR. Retaining water means that fluids leak into the surrounding tissues, instead of staying in your blood vessels. So, in order to stay properly hydrated, you need to replenish them. “Drinking at least eight glasses of water per day can help to relieve bloating, muscle cramps, and fatigue,” Dr. Segura said.
She added that women who experience migraines should pay extra attention to their hydration levels during their menstrual cycle, as dehydration can sometimes be a trigger for these extreme headaches. Finally, alcohol and caffeine consumption can worsen dehydration (in addition to contributing to menstrual cramps) so it’s best to limit them during this time of the month if you’re feeling unwell or haven’t been drinking enough water.
“The most important thing is to be mindful and listen to your body,” Dr. Segura said. “If you are thirsty at any time, absolutely drink more fluids.”