Most women know when their period is coming. On average, about 80% of women will have some symptoms when they are expecting their period. And over time, if they observe the symptoms, they can tell even without a calendar which stage of their menstrual cycle they are in and when their period will be due.
What Causes Period Symptoms?
Period symptoms are primarily caused by fluctuating hormones. And everything in your body needs hormones to run smoothly. So it isn’t surprising that a period can mess you up from top to bottom, inside and out. However, researchers admit that they aren’t sure why most period symptoms occur.
Period symptoms do not occur only when you have your period. They can come a day or two or even a couple of weeks before you actually start bleeding. This is known as PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome. Until very recently in medical history, PMS was thought to be a figment of a woman’s imagination. Doctors did not believe that women experienced any period symptoms at all and were quick to dismiss the very idea even though thousands of women reported the same thing over and over again.
But modern science has proven that the massive fluctuation of hormones in the body during a menstrual cycle do indeed cause several physical, mental and emotional symptoms.
The intensity of period symptoms will differ from women to women based on many factors such as age, physical health, stress levels, etc. Some women barely feel anything while others have to cancel plans because the symptoms seem to take over so completely.
Every woman is different. So women’s experiences during a period are different too. You may have some, all or even none of the symptoms listed below. Your body may have a more unique way of informing you that your period is on its way. Following are the most common period symptoms reported by women all over the world.
- You are irritable. Everyone and everything gets on your nerves. The friend who’s late for your dinner party by just two minutes, the colour of the paint on the wall, the ringtone of your colleague’s mobile phone, and even the way your boyfriend breathes! This is one of the most common period symptoms and one of the most annoying.
- No list of period symptoms can be complete without pain featuring on there somewhere. Pain during period such as Lower back pain and stomach cramps are normal, almost every woman feels them. But apart from that, some women will also experience pain in the joints, the back of the calves, the spine and the head. Many women also report that old injuries which do not trouble them at all during the rest of the month will somehow ache during a period. For example, you may have fractured your leg ten years ago and it healed completely, but when you have your period you can feel very strongly a dull aching in exactly that part of the leg. The pain may last just a few hours or a couple of days.
- Then there are the inevitable mood swings. One minute you’re ecstatic at how great your breakfast cereal tastes and the next you burst into uncontrollable tears because you chipped a nail. Usually, the moods will swing from bad to worse. Feelings of anger, anxiety, self-loathing, hopelessness, frustration and depression will manifest in great intensity in the days leading up to your period.
- Another common period symptom is getting a pimple or two. This is to be expected whenever hormones are at play. They will normally disappear on their own without any treatment a couple of days after your period is over.
- You may develop cravings for certain kinds of food before and/or during your period. Most women crave something salty or sweet or both.
- You may feel drained and very tired a day or two before your period. Some women feel excessively sleepy; others find it difficult to concentrate on simple tasks. A feeling of extreme fatigue and lethargy sets in and you’ll feel like you haven’t slept in days.
- You may also have tender breasts. They will feel heavy and sore.
- Some women experience dizziness as part of their period symptoms.
- Nausea is another period symptom that can take quite a toll on you. Some women experience debilitating nausea which prevents them from getting out of bed. Even simple movements can bring on waves of it.
- Bloating – a period symptom that may just be the most hated one. Which women hasn’t stomped her feet in PMS-imbued frustration when she seems to need a bigger dress size for those few days of the month?
- In addition to the bloating, you may have diarrhoea or get constipated. Your stomach may also just feel generally uncomfortable before and during your period. You may find that you are unable to eat well or that you eat too much. Changes in appetite are also common.
- Some women experience changes in their sleeping patterns. A majority will suffer from insomnia.
How To Prevent Period Symptoms
The truth is that there is no one treatment that works every time on every woman. There are, however, certain guidelines you can follow to prevent the period symptoms from getting too severe, but there is nothing you can do to make them go away altogether.
The most obvious and the easiest way to find relief from most of the period symptoms is through medication. There are muscle relaxants and pain killers for the cramps, body aches, and breast tenderness, pills to help reduce nausea, and anti-depressants and related drugs which may help with the moods.
Lifestyle changes are your best bet when it comes to preventing period symptoms, and much safer than drugs. The kind of changes we’re talking about are what your doctor and mother have been telling you for ages – eat whole foods not junk foods, exercise regularly, sleep well, drink water instead of sodas, cut down on or eliminate caffeine consumption, reduce the amount of meat you eat, use as little salt in your food as possible, don’t smoke or drink alcohol to excess, learn to better manage your stress, and spend more time with friends and family doing activities you enjoy.