9 Signs your periods are about to start

Almost every girl gets their 1st period in the age bracket of 11-14years. 355 million women menstruate in India that is nearly 30% of India’s population. Every year almost 23million girls drop out of school due to a lack of facilities and logical awareness about menstruation.

So, don’t you think everyone should be aware of menstruation?

So, let’s discuss the signs your body gives before periods.

Signs your periods are about to start:

  • Cramps
  • Acne
  • Bloating
  • Sore breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Bowel movement problem
  • Headache and migraine
  • Mood swings
  • Lower back pain

Now, as we know the signs, let’s deep dive and understand every them in detail.

signs that your periods are about to start

Signs

Every month, a woman’s body prepares a thick lining for pregnancy to nourish, receive and fertilize the egg. The thick lining gets dissolved if the individual doesn’t get pregnant, which leads to bleeding through the uterus.

Before and during the cycle, the body goes through a roller coaster of hormones causing the following signs:

Cramps

The most prominent reason for cramps is the prostaglandins compound, which gets released along the inner lining when ready to shed. Hence, individuals start getting cramps even before they start bleeding.

The pain would be in the lower abdominal area, stretched to the thighs and back for a few girls. The prostaglandins help detach and flush out the uterus lining by contraction and expansion.

cramps

In extreme scenarios, they may lead to reduced blood flow, leading to less oxygen flow to the uterus. In a few pieces of research, high inflammatory markers in the blood were linked to more pain.

If an individual has health conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, cervical stenosis, etc., it may increase pain.

Is there any way to reduce the pain?

  • Try to keep yourself hydrated (consume 6-8 glasses)as it helps ease bloating.
  • If not water, then try consuming ginger tea or infused water to increase the liquid intake.
  • Consume anti-inflammatory foods like berries, squash, cold-water fish, etc., as they would help ease the pain.
  • Avoid consuming refined foods and trans-fatty food; it has been found helpful for a few people.
  • Fennel can help you reduce the pain as it inhibits uterine contraction.
  • Avoid caffeine and diuretic drinks as they can somewhat worsen the pain; go for smoothies and shakes.
  • Perform physical exercises as they increase the blood flow to the abdomen.

Acne

65% of the women report that their acne gets worse during periods that usually improve by the week’s end. On the other hand, females who have clean skin might get a few pimples.

Is it okay if I get acne?

Yes, it is normal. Your body goes through a roller coaster ride during periods, and before periods your estrogen and progesterone level drops. The dropped level makes sebaceous glands secret more sebum to lubricate your skin.

Excess secretion leads to increased acne and pimples. Stress further worsens the condition.

acne

How can I get rid of acne?

  • Wash your face several times using a gentle non-soap cleanser.
  • Use tea tree oil as it kills bacteria and improves acne.
  • Avoid applying oil or greasy creams, concealers, etc.
  • Avoid your face from getting scratched or from any form of friction as that might burst follicles.
  • Try avoiding high GI foods as researches have shown that they worsen hormonal acne.

Sore Breast

Lots of female breasts start aching before periods as estrogen and progesterone hormones decrease in the body. Estrogen enlarges the breast ducts while progesterone causes the milk glands to swell, leading to sore breasts.

The soreness, tenderness usually start a week before and almost go away immediately when the menstrual bleeding begins.

Few females get a lump before periods which shrinks as periods end. With age and hormonal changes in the body as menopause approaches, the soreness in the breast decreases.

sore breast

Ways to reduce your breast pain during periods?

  • Wear a supportive bra.
  • Avoid food that is high in caffeine, salt, fat, and avoid consuming alcohol as they may worsen the condition.
  • 400 International Units (IU)of Vitamin E and 400mg of magnesium daily can ease the PMS symptoms.
  • May consume nutrition-rich foods like:
    • Peanuts
    • Spinach
    • Carrots
    • Banana
    • Brown Rice
    • Avocado
    • Corns, etc
  • Try doing exercise but avoid running.

Fatigue

For some individuals, fatigue can go up to the degree that performing daily tasks becomes a challenge. Well, that is normal. There is nothing to be worried about.

What is the reason behind your tiredness?

  • It can be due to sleep issues which are linked to physical premenstrual symptoms.
  • Before periods serotonin (transmitter) drops along with estrogen, which causes mood swings and a drop in energy.
  • Heavy bleeding could lead to iron deficiency. Iron deficiency won’t let the body produce hemoglobin, leading to fatigue and weakness.
  • Mood swings also make a person eat a lot, leading to frequent spikes and dips of blood sugar levels. Regular dips and spikes can make a person feel tired.
  • The pain of periods doesn’t let a few females sleep properly, which may make them tired.
fatigue

How can you reduce fatigue?

  • The body temperature increases by 0.5C before periods, and the increased temperature might cause you trouble sleeping. Decreasing the temperature a bit might give comfort to the individual.
  • Massage, gentle exercises, hot water shower can help you relax your body and might help in relieving pain and fatigue.
  • As per a study in 2014, aerobic exercises improve blood health and increase blood which can significantly decrease fatigue.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, as dehydration can worsen fatigue.
  • If you have a fixed routine to sleep, it’ll help you a lot during these days as it might help you fall asleep quickly.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine 6-8 hours before the time you sleep as it might interfere.

Bloating

You might feel that you have gained weight or swollen body parts a few days before periods, but it would be bloating. It starts a few days prior and goes away when you’ll begin to period’s bleeding.

Why do you feel bloated?

The reason is the menstrual cycle. The uterus lining gets thicker because if you get pregnant, it can nourish and take care of the fertilized egg; otherwise, the lining will flush out of your body, leading to periods.

Your genes, diet, and level of consumption of alcohol might impact bloating.

What can you do at home to decrease bloating?

  • Consume potassium and protein-rich food.
  • Avoid food that causes bloating or gas.
  • Take proper sleep.
  • Have diuretic drinks as they would make you flush liquid and can give you relief.

Bowel movement

A change in the consistency, frequency, and smell is quite normal during those days. 73% of the females experience periods related to gastrointestinal symptoms as well.

Why does bowel movement slow down?

Our body produces more prostaglandins to create a smooth lining in the uterus, and the access prostaglandins get in the bloodstream, which impacts the smooth muscles in the body, which results in more stool.

There are also chances that when the uterus muscles get contracted, intestine muscles close to it also get contracted, leading to more stool.

You get smelly stool because progesterone makes you eat more, and craving chocolates, ice cream, etc., can cause smelly stool.

If you have constipation, increasing fiber consumption might do, or if the situation is awful, you may go for any stool softener. Stressing while trying to pass stool can make the cramps worse.

In periods people with uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and ulcerative colitis face more difficulty than any other.

Headache and Migraine

Fluctuating hormones may lead to migraine and headaches. Just before periods, your estrogen and serotonin are at their lowest, leading to migraine and headaches. 

Women usually encounter the following types of headaches:

  • Tension headache- due to stress
  • After periods headache- due to blood loss
  • Hormonal headache
  • Menstrual migraine

Menstrual migraine affects 60% of women. The difference between menstrual migraine and hormonal headaches is their severity. Hormonal headaches are mild. On the other hand, menstrual migraines are pretty severe.

headache

What all comes along with headaches and migraines?

  • Vomiting
  • Sensitivity to sound and bright light
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Food cravings
  • Constipation
  • Muscle soreness

Ways to get rid of headaches and migraines?

  • Caffeine and chocolates can help you with discomfort.
  • Keep an ice pack on your head for 10minutes on and off. It might help you with the sensation of pain.
  • Practicing yoga, meditation, and exercise can reduce muscle tension and stress, causing reduced severity of your headache.
  • Less sleep may lead to a headache. Hence, sleep at least 7-8 hours.
  • Acupuncture is a way of releasing endorphins that would help you cope with stress and pain. In this process, needles are inserted at the pressure points of your body.
  • Getting a massage over your neck, shoulder, and back might release tension in that area and could give you relief. 

Mood swings

You might have noticed your partner’s/friend’s/sister’s mood swings during those days, which keeps on switching now and then. For all the PMS side effects, the reason is the same hormonal change.

Before your periods, serotonin and endorphins are at their lowest level, making you feel sad, depressed, and irritated. Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood, sleep, and cravings.

To confirm you are going through mood swings as one of the signs, start observing your behavior; when do you feel like crying, sad, depressed, low energy, tired, and losing interest in things you like, etc. 

How can you minimize your mood swings?

  • In research, calcium was found as a great way to balance mood swings. Prefer consuming high protein food like:
    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
    • Leafy vegetables
    • Cereals, etc.
  • Try to do meditation and deep breath exercises as they might help you calm your mind and soul.
  • You may have multi-vitamins that have B-6. Vitamin B-6 helps in the production of neurotransmitters which help in improving the mood. You may also get it from:
    • Fishes
    • Chickpeas
    • Starchy veggies
    • Beef liver, etc.
  • Ginkgo biloba is a herbal remedy that helps with PMS symptoms.

Lower-Back Pain

Before periods when the uterus contracts more than usual, the contraction extends to back pain at times.

If the pain is severe and constant, then maybe it is endometriosis. Endometriosis happens when the uterine tissues get displaced out of the uterus.

back pain

Symptoms of Endometriosis:

  • Severe abdominal and lower back pain.
  • Pain with bowel movements and urination
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infertility

There is a significant difference in the severity of the pain in PMS and Endometriosis. We can treat PMS pain with home remedies and traditional methods, but endometriosis requires proper treatment.

How can you manage lower back pain?

  • Acupressure and acupuncture apply pressure on the pressure points and different parts of the body, which gives relief from pain.
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a procedure where electrodes shock the skin, making the body release natural endorphins giving relief. 
  • Use a hot water bag/pad that might help you ease the pain.
  • Yoga poses like cat-cow, bridge, child, sphinx, and cobra pose might help you release tension and pain from your lower back.

Conclusion

Make sure you have good healthy food, have enough iron (18mg/day for women), use hot water bags, relax, sleep as much as your body requires, avoid high in sugar food, exercise a bit, and consume 6-8 glasses of water. Following the before-mentioned pointers may help you through your menstrual cycle.

If all the mentioned ways don’t work, then medication or over-the-table counter pain relievers are always an option, but it’s good if you can manage without them.