Are There Signs That Your Period Is Coming?

Menstrual period occurs every month. Some women, however, have irregular menstrual cycles and never know when to expect it. Some may experience a host of signs that indicate their periods are imminent while others experience nothing. The signs and symptoms experienced before the menstrual period are collectively termed pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or pre-menstrual tension (PMT) and can vary in each individual woman. PMS is due to the fluctuating levels of hormones and can be similar to the signs of pregnancy. Keep reading if you're confused by the symptoms. 

What Are the Signs Your Period Is Coming?

Some individuals experience severe symptoms that affect their daily lives over those few days of the month. The signs and symptoms usually start a few days before the expected period and stop within 4 days of the period commencing. Some common symptoms experienced include:

Emotional Signs

  • Irritability, unexplained anger and mood swings
  • Food cravings and changes in appetite
  • Anxiety and decreased self-esteem
  • Unexplained bout of crying
  • Insomnia, confusion and forgetfulness
  • Depression and trouble concentrating

Physical Signs

  • Muscle and joint aches, back ache, abdominal cramping
  • Constipation, diarrhea and nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Fluid retention causing weight gain
  • Exacerbation of acne
  • Headaches, dizziness and fatigue
  • Bloating

Could It Be Period or Pregnancy?

This is an extremely valid question because many signs your period is coming are common to sings of being pregnant. There are also other signs that are not common to both conditions and can be used to determine whether you’re pregnant or merely experiencing PMS. Bear in mind, the best way to definitively know if you’re pregnant is to do a pregnancy test with the urine passed first thing in the morning or visit your doctor for a blood test.

Below is a list of symptoms and if they indicate PMS or early pregnancy:

Symptoms

PMS

Early Pregnancy

Tender breasts and swelling

Yes

Yes

Bleeding or Spotting

Yes

Yes

Bloating and Constipation 

Yes

Yes

Increased sense of smell

No

Yes

Headaches and insomnia

Yes

Yes

Fatigue

Yes

Yes

Abdominal cramps

Yes

Yes

Nausea and vomiting

Unusual

Frequent

Backache

Yes

Yes

Missed period

No

Yes

Darkening of skin

No

Yes

Increased urination

No

Yes

Food cravings

Yes

Yes

  • Breast tenderness in pregnancy usually occurs between 1-2 weeks after conception. It continues as your pregnancy hormone levels increase. In PMS, the tenderness resolves after your period starts.
  • Bleeding or spotting when pregnant occurs within 2 weeks of conception. It is light and either pink or brown in color. There is no bleeding during PMS except if the actual menstruation has begun, and then the flow will be a lot heavier than in pregnancy.
  • Nausea and vomiting experienced during pregnancy can start 3 weeks after conception. It can prevail the entire pregnancy but mostly stop after the first trimester. Nausea in PMS will stop as soon as the period starts.
  • Food cravings in PMS can occur to a lesser extent than when experienced during pregnancy.
  • In PMS, the cramping is acute about 24-48 hours before the period begins and stops at the end of the menstrual flow. Cramping in pregnancy occurs for weeks or months as the uterus and abdominal muscles stretch and ligaments relax to accommodate the growing fetus. If you’re worried about the cramping in pregnancy, see your doctor to rule out complications.

 How to Ease the Signs of PMS

Women with severe PMS can visit their doctor to discuss prescription medicines to ease the symptoms. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants, painkillers, water tablets to reduce bloating or hormonal contraceptives to ease signs your period is coming. However, you may choose to make a few lifestyle changes or try home remedies:

1. Make Dietary Changes

Reduce bloating by eating smaller meals, more frequently during the day. Reduce salt intake which exacerbates fluid retention. Eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Add calcium to the diet. Limit alcohol and caffeine.

2. Increase Exercise

Regular exercise will decrease the depression and mood swings. Daily activities such as swimming, walking or cycling for 30 minutes should help against PMS. Regular exercise will also help you to reduce your weight.

3. Minimize Stress

Yoga and massage can help decrease stress levels. Get sufficient sleep that your body requires. Try learning deep-breathing exercises or muscle relaxation.

4. Take Supplements

There are many commercial products available with supplements to reduce signs your period is coming. These products may typically contain calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, evening primrose oil, gingko, St John’s wort, etc. Some of these alternative remedies may interfere with your other existing medicines, so consult your doctor before you begin any new supplements.

5. Try Acupuncture Therapy

Some women have had PMS relief from acupuncture therapy. It involves inserting sterile needles into the skin at specific points on the body. Ensure your therapist is licensed.

6. Other Methods

Applying heat to the lower abdominal area may provide relief from cramps. Gentle lower abdominal massage may provide relief. Take warm showers and drink warm beverages, like green tea. Lie on your side in the fetal position or on your back with your legs raised. These positions may help with the pain and discomfort of PMS.

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