Period symptoms are uncomfortable for many girls and women. But, getting your period is a natural process that signifies the end of puberty in girls/women. You see the signs of the impending menstruation at least five to two weeks before it starts. These signs let you know that it is arriving in the coming days. The signs are referred to as PMS (premenstrual syndrome). But, women of childbearing age can confuse the PMS and pregnancy symptoms. Here you can learn more about it and make yourself ready to face the regular cycle.
About Period Symptoms
More than 90% of women can experience period symptoms of PMS to a certain degree. The severity of the signs depends on the person. So, for some people, these signs are mild and may not affect their routine life. But, others have severe symptoms that make it impossible to function properly. So, they need to take the days off to deal with the pain and other discomforts associated with the condition. When the PMS signs tend to interfere with the ability to go to school, to work, or complete your daily activities, then it is better to talk to your doctor. While PMS dissipates after a few days of starting your menstruation. But, you can see the following signs indicating the arrival of your monthly cycle.
One Of The Common Period Symptoms: Abdominal Cramps
One of the common period symptoms is the abdominal cramps or menstrual cramps. Doctors refer to it as primary dysmenorrhea. It is the most common PMS sign that affects almost all women. You can feel a dull pain or cramps in the abdomen region before you start your menstrual cycle. It can start days before your menses and can last for a few days. Depending on the women, the cramps can range from minor aches to severe pain. Women who are lucky only experience dull aches and can function properly. But, unlucky ones suffer from extreme pain that stops them from completing the daily tasks.
You usually experience abdominal cramps in the lower abdomen. The dull ache can also radiate out. So, it can spread to your lower back as well as upper thighs. You feel abdominal cramps due to the uterine contractions. The contractions aids in shedding of the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) when you fail to get pregnant. To trigger the contractions, your body produces prostaglandins (the hormone, like lipids). While the lipids can trigger inflammation, it is important for regulating ovulation and the menstrual cycle in women. But, some underlying health conditions can make your cramping worse. The conditions include:
- Cervical stenosis
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
When you suffer from abdominal cramps due to the above-mentioned conditions, it is referred to as secondary dysmenorrhea.
Before starting your menses, you can see skin problems like breakouts or an increase in acne. Such issues are visible a week before your menses. In most of the cases, the menstruation-related breakout occurs on the jawline or chin region. But, these breakouts can appear anywhere on your body. So, your back, face, and other areas of the body are susceptible to skin problems. You develop pimples and other skin breakouts due to the hormonal changes linked to the female reproductive cycle.
In the normal reproductive cycle, your body releases hormones to make pregnancy possible. So, when you ovulate, your body produces less estrogen and progesterone. But, the androgen levels like testosterone increases. This can trigger your sebaceous glands to release more sebum. Sebum is the oily substances that help in skin lubrication. With increased sebum production, your pores get clogged. So, it results in breakouts. The hormones can also cause skin inflammation, which can produce acne-causing bacteria. The period-related breakouts clear at the end of your menses. It also dissipates when the progesterone and estrogen tend to increase.
Sore or tender breasts are another common PMS sign observed by many women. Your estrogen levels tend to increase during the first half of the monthly cycle (the first day your menses begins). This hormonal increase results in the stimulation of milk ducts present in the breasts. So, these milk ducts tend to grow. In the middle of your menstrual cycle, the progesterone level increase around ovulation time. It causes the enlarging of mammary glands. So, it results in swelling and breast enlargement. It makes your breast sore or tender just before or during the menses. The hormonal fluctuation can also contribute to lymph node swelling, which makes your breast sore.
The hormone called prolactin can also cause tenderness and soreness. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for breast milk production after delivery of the baby. It is present in women even when they have not given birth recently. Hormonal fluctuation can cause breast pain and soreness. In some people, the soreness of the breast may feel slight. But, others can suffer serious issues like lumpy or heavy breasts. It triggers extreme discomfort and makes it impossible for women to focus on their daily chores.
One Of The Period Symptoms: Fatigue
As your menses date approaches, your body shifts its focus from making your body sustain the pregnancy to shedding the uterus lining. It causes the hormones to fluctuate, resulting in extreme fatigue. It usually occurs due to the lack of serotonin. Serotonin is the brain chemical responsible for your happy mood. When it fluctuates, you feel sad and your energy levels dip. As a result, you feel tired. Due to the impending menstrual cycle, some women may not sleep properly. The trouble you have sleeping can result in daytime fatigue.
Before the start of your menses, your abdomen feels swollen or heavy. It is one of the common period symptoms affecting most women. Due to the issues, it becomes impossible to zip your jeans. You feel as if you have gained a few pounds in the tunny region. But, it is PMS bloating that can go away after the menstrual cycle. Bloating occurs due to the changes in the progesterone and estrogen levels. The days leading up to your menses, the estrogen levels increase. So, it affects the estrogen receptors present in your small intestine and stomach. Due to the high estrogen levels, you can experience:
- The build-up of gases and air in the intestinal tract
The fluctuation of progesterone and estrogen levels can also affect fluid retention. So, when the progesterone levels decrease and estrogen levels increase, women tend to retain more water compared to other times. So, it leads to bloating. This can result in an increase in your weight. You ted weight one or two pounds more. But, bloating differs from weight gain as you lose the extra pound after your menstruation ends. You feel relief after two or three days after your menses starts. In the majority of the cases, women experience the worst bloating during the first day of their monthly cycle.
Your bowels can change due to hormonal changes. The sensitivity to hormonal change can cause changes in your typical bathroom habits. So, you see changes before and after the menstrual cycle. The prostaglandins trigger uterine contraction, but it also causes bowel contraction. It can result in frequent bowel movements during your monthly cycle. It results in the following bowel issues:
The increased progesterone can also affect your gastrointestinal tract. Due to the hormonal fluctuations, you can experience the above-mentioned problems.
One Of The Common Period Symptoms: Headache
Due to the hormonal fluctuations, you can experience headaches. It is one of the common period symptoms. It is because these hormones are responsible for triggering the pain response. So, when your hormones fluctuate, you suffer from migraines and headaches. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can narrow the blood vessels in your brain. When the estrogen levels increase, it enhances the serotonin levels. It also increases the serotonin receptors in your brain at certain points during your monthly cycle. Due to the interplay between the estrogen as well as serotonin can trigger migraines.
More than 50% of women around the world report experiencing headaches or migraines before or during their menstrual cycle. It can also occur immediately after you complete your monthly cycle. Some women also experience headaches or migraines at the time they ovulate. The chances of experiencing headaches or migraines one to two days are highly likely. Most women feel a headache coming in the starting days of their monthly cycle. So, the discomfort is evident in the first three days of menses.
Changes in mood are one of the frustrating period symptoms. It is more severe compared to physical symptoms like aches and pain. The emotional symptoms may include:
- Mood swings
Women feel like they are on an emotional roller coaster as they feel crankier or sadder compared to normal days. Hormonal fluctuation causes mood changes. The estrogen levels have a direct effect on the production of serotonin. Serotonin makes you feel happy as the good endorphins in the brains make you feel good. Due to the fluctuations, you feel irritable and depressed. In some women, progesterone has a calming effect. With reduced progesterone levels, emotional hypersensitivity increases. So, you tend to cry and become emotional for no apparent reason.
Lower Back Pain
When you have your monthly cycles, your body releases prostaglandins. It facilitates uterine as well as abdominal contractions. The release of prostaglandin can also cause muscle contraction in the lower back. So, women can feel a pulling and aching feeling. Others can feel a nagging feeling or mild discomfort in their lower back.
The PMS symptoms like mood swings, headaches, and cramps can affect your sleep. The discomfort can make it harder for you to get a good night’s sleep. Before getting your monthly cycle, your body temperature increase. This can also affect your sleep. The core body temperature usually increases half a degree after you ovulate. It stays high until you start your monthly cycle. While half a degree increase in body temperature may not seem high, you tend to fall asleep with cooler body temperatures. So, even a small increase can cause hindrance in your sleep.
See Doctor For Period Symptoms
Is it necessary to see a doctor for your period symptoms? You experience a wide range of emotional and physical symptoms before and during your monthly cycles. But, in most cases, you feel better once you start or end your menses. In some cases, women can experience severe signs that affect their life and prevent them from completing their routine works. Since the PMS and pregnancy signs are common, seeing a doctor is advised when you think you are pregnant.
Heavy bleeding and severe abdominal cramping are not normal. It indicates a missed pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy. Other underlying health conditions like endometriosis can also trigger severe pain and bleeding. So, you need to see a doctor to detect the exact cause of such severe signs. Consult a doctor when you see the following:
- Heavy bleeding
- Difficulty breathing
- Intense lower back pain
- A sudden and intense headache
- Painful abdominal cramps
- Persistent and severe fatigue
- Vomiting several times in a day
The symptoms may affect the normal routine in your life. It can signify larger issues like an infection, ectopic pregnancy, or a hormonal imbalance. So, you need to see a doctor when these issues start interfering in your life.
One Of The Period Symptoms Needing Attention: Depression
While most women may get relief from the physical and emotional symptoms, some may continue to experience emotional issues. So, if you are among the women who experience the following emotional issues, then speak with the doctor:
- Persistent feeling of sadness
It indicates depression, which is a mental condition needing immediate attention from the doctors. You can overcome the problem with medication and therapy. Without medical intervention, depression can trigger suicidal thoughts and self-harming tendencies.
Treatment For Period Symptoms
Depending on the severity of your period symptoms, your doctor determines the different types of treatment that suits you best.
Treating Mild Period Symptoms
For mild cases of PM signs, you can make some lifestyle changes or opt for home remedies discussed in the article. In some cases, the aches and pain can cause severe discomfort. So, you can deal with it with the following:
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
For aches and pain, you can take NSAIDs before or during the menstrual cycle. Taking medications like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium alleviate the pain as well as discomfort due to cramping and soreness of breast.
Your doctor suggests exercise as well as small changes in diet like limiting salt to reduce bloating, swelling, and weight gain due to PMS. But, some may see no changes due to it. In such cases, doctors prescribe taking water pills (diuretics) to help your body flush out excess fluids through the kidneys.
Treatment For Severe Period Symptoms
If you have severe period symptoms, then you may suffer from the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or some underlying conditions. Consult a doctor to get the diagnosis. Based on your doctor’s assessment, you need the following treatment.
Address Underlying Problem
If you have health issues like endometriosis or irritable bowel syndrome, then it can make the PMS signs severe. So, your doctor suggests appropriate treatment to address the issue.
Get Treatment For Migraine
It is important to get treatment for migraines when you suffer from severe pain before your monthly cycle. You need to consult your doctor, who can prescribe the following to ease the pain:
- Estrogen pills/gel/patch
Deal With Depression
For women suffering from PMS-related depression, the doctor prescribes antidepressants. You need to take it two weeks before your monthly cycle. Your doctor suggests taking SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). It is the most common type of antidepressant used to treat migraines caused due to PMS.
Prescribe Birth Control Pills For Severe Period Symptoms
In some women, the heavy menstrual flow and associated distress can make life hell. So, to reduce the discomfort, your doctor prescribes birth control pills. These pills regulate your hormones. The BC pills contain different levels of estrogen and progesterone in synthetic form. These pills prevent your body from naturally ovulating. So, for three weeks the pills provide your body with the steady levels of hormones. You need to follow it by taking placebo pills containing no hormones for one week. The placebo pills make your hormonal levels to fall. So, it results in starting your monthly cycle. Since the birth control pills offer you a steady level of the hormone to your body, it avoids escalating high and plummeting lows of hormones that trigger signs of PMS.
Lifestyle And Home Remedies To Relieve Period Symptoms
While it is impossible to avoid period symptoms in women, some steps at home can reduce the severity of the problem. You can consider following the tips suggested below:
If you feel discomfort due to abdominal cramps, then you can place warm heating pads or hot water bottle on the abdomen or your lower back to get relief from the cramps. Soaking in a hot tub can also offer you relief from the aches and pain you suffer due to PMS.
Modify Your Diet
You need to modify your diet to avoid discomfort and pain caused due to PMS signs. Make a simple yet effective modification to see results:
- You need to eat smaller meals throughout the day to reduce bloating and the feeling of fullness. It also prevents gas. Small meals can also regulate your blood sugar levels and prevent it from dropping to too low levels. Low sugar levels can result in mood changes.
- Since your body can retain water before you get your monthly cycle, you need to limit salt as well as salty foods. These types of foods can worsen your fluid retention as well as bloating.
- Choose a healthy diet rich in complex carbohydrates. So, include more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Include foods rich in calcium to ease the PMS signs. If you are lactose intolerant (cannot tolerate dairy products), then you need to talk to your doctor regarding taking calcium supplements. Calcium supplements are useful in regulating anxiety, depression, and water retention.
Avoid Alcohol And Caffeine
Women who drink alcohol can suffer from severe PMS signs. Alcohol can alter hormones like gonadotropin. Due to the hormonal fluctuation, the symptoms worsen. So, it is better to avoid alcoholic beverages in the days leading to your monthly cycle.
You need to incorporate moderate physical activity into your daily routine. Exercising daily can ease your PMS signs. It also improves your mood and eases the discomfort like cramping. Engage in simple physical activity for at least thirty minutes every day to see changes. Daily exercises help with good blood circulation, improves your mood, make you feel energetic, and alleviates other discomforts. You can include any of the following activities:
- Brisk walking
You can also try other aerobic activities in your routine to improve your health and wellbeing.
Stress is a negative feeling that is caused due to physical tension or emotional distress. You feel stressed due to the events in your life or thoughts. So, you feel angry, nervous, or frustrated. Due to stress, your body feels the pressure. While in short bursts, stress can offer positive results as it helps you avoid any danger or meet a specified deadline. But, severe stress in life can cause emotional and physical problems. Women who are stressed can suffer from severe PMS signs. So, you need to reduce stress to manage the PMS signs. For reducing stress, you can follow the suggestion provided below:
Get Good Sleep
A good sleep at night restores and repairs your body. When you get a good sleep for at least seven to eight hours, it calms your body and mind. So, it improves your concentration, sharpens your judgment, regulates your mood, and enhances your decision-making skills. So, with good sleep, you feel well-rested. It also alleviates the signs of PMS.
Try Relaxation Techniques To Ease Period Symptoms
Relaxation techniques are healthier ways to deal with stress. These techniques trigger a relaxation response, which is the opposite of stress response. You can try the steps suggested below for relaxing:
- Deep breathing
- Guided imagery
- Mindful meditation
- Repetitive prayer
These techniques can reduce anxiety, headaches, or insomnia.
Massaging manipulates the muscles. So, it offers relaxation from physical stress. It becomes easier to stretch the muscles and relieve any tightness or tension. So, you feel the easing of PMS signs.
Every woman suffers from period symptoms before starting their menses. It is common to suffer from mild symptoms in the days leading up to your monthly cycle. But, you can ease the discomfort with the lifestyle changes and some home remedies. But, some women suffer severe symptoms, which makes it impossible to enjoy your life or complete daily activities. In such cases, you need to consult the doctor to diagnose the problem causing such severe symptoms. With proper medical assistance, you can reduce the signs of PMS.
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