Thanks to our biological makeup, women are no strangers to the painful, cyclical symptoms of menstruation. Bloating, cramps, cravings and fatigue are only some of the possible symptoms women experience while dealing with premenstrual syndrome, but for those who’ve never had their period (i.e. men), it can be borderline impossible to understand—until now, that is.
The image shows Olofsson posing in just a sports bra and underwear, showing off her swollen stomach. “This is how PMS looks for me, and many other women,” Malin explained in the caption of her picture. “And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It is simply water retention and, yes, it is really uncomfortable.”
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Malin then goes on to explain the various side-effects many women experience due to PMS, while also offering words of encouragement for accepting your body no matter what state it’s in. “Trying to fight your physical body and how it appears during this time will not be a good idea since you’re already more sensitive to physical neglect and self-loathing.” Malin then adds, “I wanted to show you this—to show you that it is ok, that no one looks like the pictures they post on Instagram at all times. We choose to show others what we are proud of—but I think it is important to be proud of the totality of you—to learn to be proud of you, no matter what your body looks like.”
While bloating isn’t experienced by everyone, it’s certainly one of the more common issues associated with PMS. According to New York-based gynecologist, Alyssa Dweck, M.D., bloating can be caused by quite a few things during menstruation: “First, cravings during your menstrual cycle can cause women to reach for highly-processed or salty foods. This leads to excess water retention and a distended belly. Also, the body’s progesterone levels change during your period, which causes a disruption in the intestinal track, making you feel heavier and bloated.”
Sadly, bloating isn’t completely avoidable, but research done by the Mayo Clinic found that there are some easy ways to minimize the feeling. Generally, women who regularly participate in exercise typically report fewer PMS symptoms, while skipping salty foods during mealtimes is also proven to limit the amount of water retention women experience.
Another option? Dr. Dweck recommends trying birth control pills since they can sometimes minimize PMS symptoms. Whether you experience bloating or not during your menstrual cycle, we can all take a bit of Malin’s advice on how to deal with it. Self-loathing certainly won’t eliminate PMS, so it’s better to accept yourself—with or without bloat—each and every day.
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