Every month, since the onset of puberty, a woman’s uterine line breaks down and sheds in the form of blood and tissue from the vagina anywhere from 2 to 7 days, which is known as a period or menstruation.
But, about 2 weeks before you are about to bleed, you will notice your body showing symptoms that can indicate that your period is due soon. And, even as your menstruation begins, your body may undergo more symptoms apart from bleeding. These are known as period symptoms.
Why do you get period symptoms?
The main reason why period symptoms occur is the hormonal fluctuation that your body undergoes around and during your period. Changes in the hormones estrogen, progesterone and serotonin contribute to symptoms like cramps, mood swings, bloating and others.
Common period symptoms
If you notice some discomfort and bodily changes during this period, it is most likely due to the hormonal changes mentioned. In most cases, the period symptoms can be as follows.
- Usually felt in the abdominal, lower back or even upper thigh areas- the main cause of these are uterine contractions that are needed to shed the lining. Hormone-like lipids called prostaglandins are what cause these contractions and most people experience the most severe cramps during their heavy flow days.
- Acne - As estrogen and progesterone levels fall during your periods, androgens (male hormones) increase slightly in your body, causing excess sebum production in the skin. This can result in breakouts, that is mostly seen around the chin and jawline area in women. This is also known as hormonal acne and even though period-related acne usually dissipates shortly after you stop bleeding, hormonal fluctuations can be persistent in some women. Apart from maintaining a healthy diet, proper skin care is required to combat these breakouts. The hormonal acne range from Carmesi, infused with a unique blend of salicylic acid and Shatavari and a number of other powerful ingredients, is designed to tackle such breakouts and give you clearer skin.
- Tender breasts - Estrogen levels start to increase during the first half of the menstrual cycle, followed by a rise in progesterone that occurs during the middle of the cycle. These hormonal changes contribute to the milk ducts and the mammary glands in your breasts to enlarge and swell, causing an ache and a swollen feeling in your breasts around or during your period.
- Fatigue and trouble sleeping - Fatigue is a result of the hormonal shifts that your body undergoes, which can also contribute to mood changes, making you feel more tired than usual. Further, changes in estrogen and progesterone cause your body temperature to increase, especially during sleeping and this can make falling asleep very difficult.
- Bloating - Estrogen and progesterone changes in the body cause it to retain more water and salt than it usually does, which results in bloating. Even if your weight slightly increases during this time, it is usually not fat that makes you gain weight. You start to bloat a few days before your period, with the worst bloating happening on the first day of your period, and it usually goes away around the third day of your period.
- Bowel issues - Rising levels of estrogen and progesterone can slow down intestinal movements, leading to constipation around your periods. On the other hand, prostaglandins can contribute to contractions in the intestines along with your uterus, which can lead to diarrhoea. Either way, getting constipated or experiencing diarrhoea is common during periods.
- Mood swings - Estrogen can affect serotonin levels in the brain, which is the hormone responsible for keeping you happy and less anxious, causing feelings of depression and sadness. Further, progesterone is known to keep your mood more stable and calm, and a drop in its level can make you highly emotional, resulting in mood changes like irritability and crying.
- Headaches - Since estrogen is linked to serotonin levels, the interplay between the two hormones can sometimes result in headaches and migraines since hormones are largely responsible for generating responses to pain. In a study published in the Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders journal, it is noted that more than 50% of women reported a link between migraines and their period, where they experience headaches just before, during or right after their period.
Pain in the lower back region - While some people may experience mild discomfort, others can suffer from significant pain in their lower back region during or before their period. This is a result of prostaglandins which are responsible for causing uterine contractions, also contributing to muscle contractions in the lower back region.
When can it get serious?
When premenstrual symptoms (PMS) become severe, they are termed premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and it can sometimes become very serious and require medical attention. The symptoms of PMDD can range from:
- Extreme mood swings
- Uncontrollable anger
- Worsened anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed
- Trouble concentrating
- Extreme irritability
- Stress and tension
What are your treatment options?
Even though usually period symptoms aren’t serious in nature, suffering through them does not have to be your only option of dealing with them. Try these to find relief.
- Curb cravings - Even though it can be really tempting to eat a lot of sugary or salty food during or before your period, it’s best to curb your cravings and stick to a healthy diet of whole grains and proteins to alleviate bloating, cramps and other symptoms.
- Use painkillers - You can get OTC painkillers that can help with your period cramps that are otherwise disruptive.
- Use heat - Heat can help a lot with the pain, and prove to be very effective against cramps. You can use a heating pad, a hot water bottle or try the Carmesi Cramp Relief Patch, which can provide instant relief up to 8 hours, is completely discreet and extremely easy to carry on yourself.
- Get moderate exercise - Exercising or yoga can help with symptoms like cramps and mood swings.
- Use hormonal contraceptives - If your symptoms are very severe, you can try hormonal contraceptives as prescribed by a doctor. These can minimize hormonal fluctuations and help keep your period symptoms under control.