How to know that a period is coming

There are a couple of ways a person can say when a time is due. When their hormone levels drop, many people experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms called premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

We address some common signs and symptoms of cycles in this article, and explain how they vary from those of early pregnancy.

They also cover when people may need to suggest seeing a doctor about the effects of their cycles.

Signs and symptoms

A girl in her period
A individual may experience abdominal bloating a couple of days before the start of a period.

Many people experience PMS a few days before their cycle begins, which causes a variety of symptoms.

PMS symptoms appear in 95 percent of reproductive-age females according to study.

PMS occurs after ovulation, when an ovary releases an egg into a fallopian tube.

The levels of estrogen and progesterone drop significantly after ovulation, which may explain why people have PMS symptoms.

PMS can cause symptoms in both physical and emotional ways.

PMS can involve physical symptoms like:

  • abdominal bloating
  • abdominal cramping
  • tender or swollen breasts
  • back pain
  • changes in appetite
  • pimples or acne
  • sleeping more or less than usual
  • headaches
  • sensitivity to light or sound
  • discharge becoming clear and slippery

Emotional symptoms of PMS may include:

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • food cravings
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feelings of sadness or apathy
  • crying spells or angry outbursts
  • decreased libido

Symptoms of PMS usually resolve once the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body begin to rise, which typically occurs 4 days after a person’s period begins.

PMS has no similar effect on everyone. Many people have their period without PMS, or just a few mild symptoms, while others have severe symptoms that interfere with their daily activities. Symptoms in about 5 percent of women with PMS are serious.

Symptoms of PMS can change during a person’s lifetime. People may experience various symptoms of PMS as they get older or after their first pregnancy.

Period vs. pregnancy

Periods and PMS may cause early pregnancy symptoms similar to those.

Both menstruation and pregnancy affect the hormone levels of a person, and this can lead to significant physical and emotional symptoms.

Bleeding or spotting

The menstrual bleeding happens on average every 25–30 days. Over their time, most people lose around 2–3 tablespoons of menstrual blood, but some individuals may have heavier or lighter periods.

While hemorrhage usually does not occur over PMS, some people experience light bleeding or spotting.

This sign can occur during early pregnancy, too. During the first trimester, about 15–25 percent of pregnant women experience spotting or mild bleeding.

When this occurs in the uterine lining 1–2 weeks after a fertilized egg implant it is called implantation bleeding.

Bleeding from the implantation is much less than bleeding from menstruation. It may look like a light pink or brown discharge, while bright red menstrual blood appears.

When women experience severe bleeding at any stage in their pregnancy, they should contact their doctor.

Abdominal pain or cramping

The abdominal pain can be caused by both PMS and pregnancy.

People in the lower abdomen can also feel mild to moderate cramping.

These cramps feel similar to menstrual and premenstrual cramps during pregnancy, and they occur as the embryo grows and the uterus stretches.

Breast changes

Both PMS and pregnancy affect hormone levels which can lead to changes in the breast, such as:

  • pain
  • tenderness or sensitivity
  • swelling
  • heaviness

Breast changes associated with PMS usually resolve at the beginning or end of a person’s duration.

Moreover, changes in the breast occurring when a woman becomes pregnant continue throughout the pregnancy.

Fatigue

Exhaustion reflects both a symptom of PMS and early pregnancy.

During pregnancy exhaustion may be due to elevated levels of hormones during pregnancy.

A neurotransmitter imbalance known as serotonin can lead to feelings of fatigue during PMS. Serotonin helps to regulate mood and the sleep cycle of the body, and its levels can vary throughout the menstrual cycle of an individual. These changes can have more effect on some people than on others.

People who feel extremely tired may have a more serious form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), before their time.

The Women’s Health Bureau reports that about 5 percent of people who receive cycles have PMDD.

The symptoms that cause PMDD are similar but more severe than those of PMS.

Those symptoms might include:

  • persistent irritability
  • symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • mood swings
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • severe daytime fatigue
  • food cravings
  • binge eating
  • headaches
  • bloating
  • cramps
  • joint and muscle pain

Changes in mood

The hormonal changes occurring during menstruation and pregnancy can affect the mood of a person, leaving them feeling anxious, sad or irritable.

Mood swings are also common both during PMS and early pregnancy.

Persistent feelings of sadness, apathy or irritability lasting longer than 2 weeks can suggest depression or another mood disorder.

When to see a doctor

Before and during their time many people experience a variety of physical and emotional symptoms.

Usually such symptoms resolve at the beginning or end of a period.

People may want to see a doctor if they have symptoms affecting their daily lives or occurring outside of their time.

Many of the PMS symptoms occur during pregnancy, too.

These may include changes in mood, fatigue, mild bleeding or spotting and abdominal pain.

If they are mild and do not interfere with their daily activities, people don’t need to worry about these symptoms.

Heavy bleeding and extreme abdominal cramping may however signify complications of pregnancy, such as loss of pregnancy and ectopic pregnancy.

If females experience any of the following symptoms during pregnancy, they should contact their doctor:

  • heavy bleeding
  • intense lower back pain
  • painful abdominal cramps
  • a sudden, intense headache
  • severe, persistent fatigue
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting several times a day

Summary

Before and during their lifetime many people experience physical and emotional changes.

Such changes include:

  • vaginal bleeding or spotting
  • abdominal pain or cramping
  • bloating
  • lower back pain
  • swollen or tender breasts
  • nausea
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • acne
  • irritability
  • frequent mood changes
  • symptoms of anxiety or depression

While those symptoms can cause discomfort, they should not interfere with the everyday life of a person.

People may want to talk to a doctor if they continue to experience emotional or physical symptoms which continue after the end of their time.

Prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness or anxiety may signify a condition of mental health which can be managed by doctors with therapy and medication.

Heavy or prolonged bleeding between cycles can be a symptom of underlying health problem, such as ectopic pregnancy, an infection, or a hormonal imbalance.

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