Food cravings, unusual mood swings and white discharge are a normal part of a period for many people. To an extent, some people even experience cramps a few days before their period. But, is it normal to have period pain a week before you’re about to bleed?
Here, we’re going to talk about cramps that you may have a week in advance and how you can find relief from them.
The science behind period cramps
The lining of your uterus sheds and flows through your vaginal canal once a month and some people get slight cramps on a monthly basis.
Period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, are caused by compounds called prostaglandins, which act like hormones and produce discomfort and inflammation when your uterus contracts.
Is it normal to have cramps a week before your periods?
Though the majority of cramps occur when your period begins, cramps can happen days before your period begins. This is caused by something known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which occurs when your body's hormones change just before your period.
Moodiness, bloating, headaches, and breast soreness are common PMS symptoms that appear 5 to 7 days before your period. Even though pains might occur approximately a week before your menses as part of typical PMS, it's not very common to have the same experience.
Dysmenorrhea is a condition in which chemicals called prostaglandins are secreted from the uterine lining, causing discomfort. This usually occurs just before menstruation starts and might last during the first several days of a woman's cycle. As a result, it would be unusual if it happened seven days prior.
What about severe cramps?
Many women believe that stomach cramps are common before their periods, so they try to push through the discomfort and this widespread misunderstanding may be preventing you from receiving the assistance you require. You must be able to tell the difference between light and severe cramping, as severe cramps prior to your period are never natural.
Here are a few signs you may have severe cramping:
- Your cramps start to interfere with your daily activities and often make it impossible to get through them.
- Your cramps have become more severe over the past few periods than what’s usually your normal experience.
- OTC medication for pain does not prove to be too effective against your cramps.
- When having sex, your cramps are accompanied by pain in your pelvic region.
- Other symptoms are also present along with your cramps like abnormal discharge, fever, dizziness and nausea.
What could be causing severe period pain or cramping a week before?
Apart from being a normal part of PMS for some people, you may also be experiencing severe cramps, that often comes about a week before, due to other reasons:
- Endometriosis - Endometrial tissue (tissue identical to that found in your uterus) develops outside your uterus instead and on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, or abdomen when you have endometriosis. Hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle might damage the tissue, producing discomfort and inflammation up to a week before the period is due to start.
- Cysts - Pain might be caused by a cyst that lingers after ovulation and if it begins to leak fluid and does not clear on its own, the fluid from the cyst might cause cramping or pelvic pain at any point throughout your cycle.
- Ovulation pain - Some women have no symptoms during ovulation, while others experience a pang of discomfort as an egg is released, often accompanied by discharge or spotting.
- Uterine fibroids - Uterine fibroids are growths on your uterus that are abnormal but typically benign. Some people with fibroids experience no symptoms, while others may endure pain or discomfort.
- Implantation cramping - When sperm fertilises an egg, the cramping may occur when the egg implants into your uterine wall. The implantation cramping normally occurs around the time your period is due, but depending on when ovulation and conception happened, it might occur up to a week before your period.
- UTI - Urinary tract infections (UTI) and bladder infections can cause abdominal pain at any point throughout your cycle, even a week before your period.
- Adenomyosis - Endometrial tissue from the uterine lining begins to develop into the uterine wall, causing adenomyosis, but this condition is not always painful. However, some women suffer acute abdominal aches during, or even a week before, their period.
Can you do something about your cramps?
There are a number of things you can do to find relief from period cramps:
- Try a cramp relief patch - The Carmesi Cramp Relief Patch is a portable, handy and discreet way to manage your period pain, even on the go. Simply stick the patch to the inner side of your panties and the rest will be taken care of by the heat patch. On top of that, it’s not bulky, so you can wear it under any type of clothing.
- Use other heat treatment - You also have the option of using hot water bottles or hot bags to treat your period pain, where heat will provide relief from your cramps.
- Opt for OTC painkillers - OTC painkillers can provide relief from your cramps at certain times if it’s not from an underlying issue. In some cases, you may need prescription painkillers to deal with severe cramps.
- Try yoga poses for cramp relief - There are several yoga poses you can try to get relief from period pain. Try the ones that you are able to perform and see if they work for you.
When should you see a doctor?
If you're not sure if your pain is normal menstruation pain or something else, or if you're having additional troubling symptoms, see a doctor. If your discomfort is causing you to vomit or have a fever, or if it's forcing you to miss work, school, or other events, make an appointment with a doctor.