Hormonal Connection for Weight Gain and Swelling
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Hormonal Connection for Weight Gain and Swelling


Weight gain and swelling are two common symptoms for women going through menstrual issue (such as PMS), can be distressing symptoms that individuals may experience at various points in their lives. While these symptoms can have several underlying causes, hormonal imbalances play a significant role in their development. In this article, we will mainly focus on the causes of weight gain and swelling, as well as the intricate relationship between these symptoms and hormones, respectively.

Causes of Swelling

Swelling, often accompanied by fluid retention, is also known as edema. Swelling is a common phenomenon experienced by many individuals during their menstrual cycle. It refers to the temporary increase in fluid retention and swelling in various parts of the body, particularly in the breasts, abdomen, and extremities. Hormonal fluctuations, primarily involving estrogen and progesterone, play a significant role in menstrual swelling. Understanding the causes and management of this symptom can help individuals navigate their menstrual cycles with greater comfort and awareness. So far, researchers have identified various factors which can contribute to swelling, including:

  • Sodium intake: Consuming a diet high in sodium can cause the body to retain water, leading to swelling and weight gain. Recommended first-line treatments include a diet low in salt, fat, caffeine, and sugar
  • Hormonal fluctuations: Hormonal changes throughout the menstrual cycle can influence fluid balance and contribute to fluid retention. Scientists have investigated many different hormones that are relevant in the biological process of swelling – we will dig into more details later.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions like kidney disease, heart failure, liver disease, and thyroid disorders can impair the body's ability to regulate fluid balance and result in fluid retention.

Causes of Weight Gain

Menstrual weight gain is a common occurrence that many individuals experience during their menstrual cycle. It refers to a temporary increase in body weight that typically resolves once the menstrual period ends. Several factors contribute to this phenomenon:

  • Swelling (Water Retention): As we just discussed in the previous paragraphs, hormonal fluctuations, particularly an increase in estrogen levels, can lead to water retention in the body. In particular, estrogen promotes sodium and water retention, which can cause bloating and a temporary increase in weight.
  • Increased Caloric Intake: Some individuals may experience cravings or increased appetite in the premenstrual phase or during menstruation. This can lead to a higher consumption of calories, which, if not balanced by increased physical activity, can contribute to weight gain.
  • Food Choices: During the menstrual cycle, there may be a tendency to crave certain types of food, particularly those high in carbohydrates, sugar, and salt. These food choices can contribute to temporary weight gain due to increased calorie intake and water retention.
  • Emotional factors: Stress, emotional eating, and disordered eating habits can also contribute to weight gain.

The Relationship Between Weight Gain and Hormones

Hormones play a significant role in regulating metabolism, appetite, and fat storage, which can impact body weight. Let's explore the relationship between weight gain and hormones in more detail:

  • Insulin: Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels. It facilitates the uptake of glucose into cells for energy and promotes fat storage. When insulin levels are consistently high due to factors like a high-carbohydrate diet or insulin resistance, it can lead to weight gain.
  • Leptin: Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells and is involved in regulating appetite and energy balance. It signals to the brain when we have enough stored fat and should stop eating. In other word, leptin plays a key role in the long-term regulation of food intake and energy expenditure. For individuals with leptin resistance, the brain does not receive the signal properly, leading to increased appetite and overeating. This can contribute to weight gain and difficulty in maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Estrogen: Estrogen, primarily known as a female hormone, plays a role in fat distribution and metabolism. Higher estrogen levels are associated with increased fat storage in the hips and thighs, while lower estrogen levels (such as during menopause) can lead to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area.
  • Thyroid Hormones: Thyroid hormones are believed to be responsible for regulating metabolism. Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid condition, can slow down metabolism, resulting in weight gain or difficulty losing weight. Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid condition, can increase metabolism and lead to weight loss despite an increased appetite.
  • Cortisol: Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, is released in response to stress. Chronic stress can lead to prolonged elevated cortisol levels, which can influence appetite, promote abdominal fat deposition, and contribute to weight gain. Stress management techniques, such as exercise, relaxation, and adequate sleep, can help regulate cortisol levels and mitigate its effects on weight.

It's important to note that hormonal imbalances are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to weight gain. Factors such as calorie intake, physical activity, sleep patterns, and overall lifestyle choices also play significant roles. If you are concerned about your weight or suspect a hormonal imbalance, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your specific situation, conduct appropriate tests, and provide personalized guidance and treatment options to address any underlying hormonal issues.

The Relationship Between Swelling and Hormones

As we mentioned earlier, swelling, often accompanied by fluid retention or edema, can be influenced by hormonal imbalances. Hormones play a crucial role in regulating fluid balance, blood vessel permeability, and inflammation, which can affect the occurrence of swelling. Although we may not be able to list every hormone in this article, we can name a few hormones that are mostly discussed and established, such as:

  • Estrogen and Progesterone: Researchers believe that both estrogens and progesterones play important roles in whole-body water and sodium regulation as well as in the brain.
  • Estradiol: Estradiol stimulates the liver to synthesize angiotensinogen, which will eventually be converted to a substance called Angiotensin II. Angiotensin II can increase blood pressure, and stimulate another hormone (called as aldosterone) that is involved in sodium retention by the kidney - and this greater sodium retention usually results in water retention (swelling).
  • Thyroid Hormones: Thyroid hormones help regulate metabolism and fluid balance. Both hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can disrupt fluid balance and contribute to swelling. Hypothyroidism can slow down metabolism and impair the body's ability to eliminate excess fluids, leading to swelling. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, can increase metabolism and cause excessive sweating, potentially leading to dehydration and fluid retention.

It's important to note that while hormonal imbalances can contribute to swelling, other factors like diet, medication side effects, kidney or liver dysfunction, heart conditions, or venous insufficiency can also cause edema. If you experience persistent or severe swelling, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your symptoms, perform diagnostic tests if necessary.


Weight gain and swelling can stem from various causes, including fluid imbalance, poor dietary habits, sedentary lifestyle, and underlying medical conditions. However, hormonal imbalances play a significant role in the development of these symptoms. Fluctuations in hormones like estrogen, progesterone, insulin and aldosterone can disrupt metabolism, fluid balance, and fat distribution, contributing to weight gain and swelling.

Understanding the hormonal connection to weight gain and swelling is crucial in addressing these symptoms effectively. If you experience persistent weight gain, swelling, or fluid retention, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess your hormonal status and develop an appropriate treatment plan to restore balance and alleviate these symptoms. Additionally, adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management techniques, and proper hydration can help maintain hormonal equilibrium and support overall well-being.

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2.Causes of Swelling
3.Causes of Weight Gain
4.The Relationship Between Weight Gain and Hormones
5.The Relationship Between Swelling and Hormones