If you’re a woman and your body is going through several physical and emotional changes, that means your period is approaching. These changes are known collectively as pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or pre-menstrual tension (PMT) and can vary with each woman. They can be a minor inconvenience to some and unpleasant for others.
According to the American Family Physician, at least 80% of women experience at least one premenstrual symptom in the days leading up to their period. PMS occurs due to fluctuations in a woman’s hormone levels and can be similar to the symptoms of pregnancy.
But even though most women get them, doctors aren’t exactly sure of the causes behind them. Some experts believe brain chemicals to be involved, but are not sure about the extent of it.
If you experience intense premenstrual symptoms, it isn’t because you have higher or abnormal hormone levels than other women. Medical experts believe it’s because you may be sensitive to hormonal changes, to which they can’t explain why, yet.
Regardless, here are some of the signs that you notice 1 or 2 weeks prior to the start of your period:
1. High Sex Drive
According to Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, practicing OBGYN and author of The Complete A to Z For your V, women are known for feeling particularly aroused during this time of the month due to the fluctuations in their hormone levels.
Acne is a typical problem that women experience during their pre-menstruating phase due to, once again, hormone fluctuations. When the hormone levels rise, they activate the body’s sebum (oil) production that can clog your pores and cause pimples right when your period is about to start.
3. Breast Changing
Another common sign before the occurrence of a woman’s period is the changes she experiences with their breasts. During this phase, the breasts start to swell and become tender. Doctors aren’t sure what role hormones have here, but the symptoms could be linked to rising levels of prolactin, also known as the breastfeeding hormone.
When your hormone levels shift around, they make you tired and also disturb your sleep patterns. These may interrupt your daily activities or cause problems concentrating on your work, but that’s the way it is. As a matter of fact, PMS and chronic fatigue syndrome have many symptoms that are similar to one another.
Bloating is another problem related to hormones which cause the body to retain water. Dr. Jason James, OBGYN and chairman of the Department of OBGYN at Baptist Hospital of Miami says that hormonal changes slow down bowel motility, which results in gas retention and can cause a swollen abdomen.
The increased blood flow to the uterus can lead to uterine swelling that can also result in a bloated abdomen. Thankfully, this can all be suppressed by limiting your intake of salt, eating fresh fruits and vegetables as well as exercising regularly.
6. Period Cramps
Abdominal cramps are some of the most frequent complaints during PMS. Cramps that are painful, are usually an indication that menstrual bleeding is about to start. Unlike other symptoms, that occur 1 or 2 weeks prior to your period and end at the start of bleeding, cramps occur right before your period and can last for 2 or 3 days.
The headaches you experience in the days leading up to your period are caused by changes in your body’s estrogen levels. If you’re susceptible to migraines, you may experience them more often before the onset of your period.
8. Depression & Anxiety
Both depression and anxiety are doubly associated with PMS. Anyone with a history of either condition will cause your PMS symptoms to worsen.
9. Bowel Movement
Changes in bowel movement are also expected before your period occurs. In the first few days, your body will release a chemical known as prostaglandins, which is what makes the uterus contract. But the chemical will sometimes stray over to the bowel, causing it to contract as well.
Mira Kaga who is an internal medicine physician, says that sometimes there is so much prostaglandin released inside a woman’s body that it doesn’t just target the uterus, but also other parts of the body, including the GI tract. She later adds that this rush in prostaglandins can cause diarrhea for some and increased bowel movements for others.
Hormone fluctuations could increase your cravings for sugary and fatty foods. Licensed Delaware sex specialist, Dr. Deb Laino said that a woman’s serotonin levels tend to decline before the start of a period and a rise in the levels of cortisol (a hormone that is released when you’re stressed).
Dr. Laino says sugary and fatty foods give women a burst of serotonin. this symptom is nothing to be alarmed over as eating salty and sweet foods is actually fun, as long as you take your timely vegetable along with it.
11. Vaginal Discharge
A yellowish or white discharge is usually a sure sign that you’re about to have your first period. Do you Miffy want to start using some ALWAYS pantiliners to protect your underwear. With this in mind, your period is ready to start in a couple of months
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