PMS, also known as premenstrual syndrome, is a common condition that affects nearly half of women at some point in their lives. It is characterized by a range of physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the days or weeks leading up to a woman's menstrual period. These symptoms are caused by fluctuations in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. The signs of an impending period can vary from person to person and may even change from month to month. Some people experience mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that interfere with their daily activities. You can use an online period calculator to predict when your next period is likely to occur, and it's also helpful to be aware of the physical signs that may indicate your period is approaching, so you can be prepared with your preferred menstrual product.
What is PMS?
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is a pattern of physical and emotional symptoms that occur regularly (at least three menstrual cycles in a row), disrupt a person's normal activities, begin in the five days before a period and end within four days after the period starts. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, PMS is caused by fluctuations in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which regulate the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is the dominant hormone before ovulation (the fertile window) and progesterone is dominant after ovulation (the days before the period starts). These hormone changes may contribute to the symptoms of PMS. Understanding the signs that your period is coming can help you manage your menstrual symptoms more effectively.
What are the signs that your period is coming?
Have you ever noticed that your skin tends to break out more around the time you expect your period? It can be frustrating, but it might be comforting to know that over half of women report that their acne symptoms worsen in the week before their period. This may be due to an increase in progesterone before the period, which can stimulate the production of oil (sebum) in the skin and lead to breakouts.
It is common for breasts to feel more sensitive or even painful in the days leading up to a menstrual period. This is due to fluctuating hormone levels. Estrogen can cause the breast ducts to enlarge, while progesterone can cause the milk glands to swell, both of which can make the breasts feel tender. It is important to be familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel, and it is recommended to examine them after your period when they are least likely to be swollen and tender. While breast tenderness before your period is normal, it is important to see a healthcare professional if you have other concerns about your breasts or if you notice a change.
Abdominal cramps are a common sign that your period is about to start. These cramps are caused by the contraction of uterine muscles as a result of the release of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which signal the shedding of the uterine lining. Some people are more prone to experiencing cramps and back pain during their period due to higher levels of inflammation in the body. However, if the pain is severe and disrupts your daily activities, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine if there is an underlying health condition, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids, causing the pain.
Do you often experience a range of intense emotions such as anger, anxiety, and emotional stability within a short period of time? This could be a sign that your menstrual period is approaching. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly a decrease in estrogen, are believed to be linked to emotional changes. Some people may be more prone to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) due to mood disorders or genetic factors. However, if your PMS symptoms are severe and disrupt your daily life, it could be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more serious form of PMS that can cause anxiety or depression around the time of menstruation.
Bloating is a common and often uncomfortable symptom of menstruation. Hormonal changes, such as an increase in progesterone, can affect the digestive system and cause bloating and constipation. Additionally, changes in diet, such as an increased desire for salty or sweet foods, may contribute to water retention and bloating. If bloating persists after your period ends, it is important to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any serious underlying causes.
It is not uncommon to feel tired and have difficulty sleeping before your period begins. Hormonal changes and shifts in brain chemicals, such as a decrease in serotonin, can impact both mood and sleep. Tiredness can also be a sign of early pregnancy due to high levels of progesterone, which can cause symptoms such as cramping, mood swings, breast tenderness, and exhaustion that are similar to premenstrual symptoms. If you think you may be pregnant, it is important to take a pregnancy test after missing a period.
Vaginal discharge tends to vary during different stages of the menstrual cycle and can indicate fertility. During ovulation, the cervix produces more cervical mucus, which may have a texture similar to raw egg whites to facilitate conception. Right before your period, discharge may be absent or sticky because fertility is at its lowest point.
Everyone's experience with PMS is different, and managing PMS can be challenging. However, most PMS symptoms should begin to subside as your period starts. Keeping track of your menstrual cycle can be helpful in diagnosing PMS or PMDD and understanding which factors, such as lack of sleep or caffeine consumption, may worsen PMS symptoms. It can also help you anticipate when your next period is coming and give you the opportunity to practice self-care and listen to your body.