Q: Is it normal for your feet and ankles to swell during menstruation, and can anything be done to stop it? I’ve noticed I begin to swell three days before my period starts, and I’m still swollen on the fourth day. The swelling does go down a little at night when I prop my feet up.
— Angela, Washington
Fluid retention is very common during periods and the few days before your period begins. The easiest way to diminish the swelling is by lowering your intake of salty foods (chips, fries, olives, fast-food items, etc.) and drinking plenty of water the week before your period. You could also try wearing elastic stockings (also known as support or compression stockings), which can help stimulate circulation in your legs and stop swelling. If you spend all day on your feet, the stockings are probably your best bet for long-lasting relief.
Another option: Try elevating your feet even a few inches off the ground when you’re sitting down. For example, keeping a small ottoman or stepstool under your desk at work and using it to prop your feet up can help reduce the swelling a lot. Finally, mild diuretics can help ease swelling in severe cases, but these are medications that your doctor will need to prescribe. The best idea is to discuss all of these options with your doctor, so the two of you can devise a plan together.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Women’s Health Center.