8 Lesser-Known PMS Symptoms You Might Not Know About
You might think of cramps, mood swings, and a hankering for chocolate as a few of the better-known PMS symptoms, but that’s only the tip of the time-of-the-month iceberg.
PMS or premenstrual syndrome is a medical condition that affects people who menstruate. PMS symptoms and their severity depend on the individual, meaning that sometimes, you could experience PMS and not even realize it. Understanding the common symptoms is the first step to mitigating them and making your cycle less vicious.
If you’ve noticed that you feel extra downtrodden the week before your period, here are eight lesser-known PMS symptoms that might be ailing you.
One of the most common yet overlooked PMS symptoms is headaches. Menstrual cycles can cause various types of period-related headaches in different people. The types of headache could be any of the following:
- Hormonal headaches are caused by a drop in estrogen and progesterone and feel like a tight band around your forehead
- PMS headaches, similar to hormonal headaches, happen directly before your period
- Low-iron headaches can occur in people with heavy flows towards the end of their period
- Menstrual migraines occur when your hormones fluctuate and are worse than a typical headache. Migraines may trigger dizziness, light sensitivity, and nausea.
Headaches caused by your menstrual cycle should clear up within a few days. If you consistently experience debilitating headaches, see your doctor.
Have you ever noticed that the closer your period gets, the more you struggle to focus at work? Maybe you find yourself agonizing over simple decisions or forgetting details more easily.
Medical experts call this phenomenon “brain fatigue.” You might also know it as “brain fog.” Brain fog affects concentration, recall, focus, and more.
Scientists believe that changes in hormones may be the culprit behind this cognitive confusion. As estrogen and progesterone levels shift before your period, you and your brain may be feeling the effects in the form of lowered mental performance.
Did you know that PMS can interfere with your R&R? Some people experience insomnia in the days leading up to their monthly cycle.
Most people associate hot flashes with menopause, but PMS can cause hot flashes, too. As estrogen levels drop leading up to menstruation, the body’s temperature can become less stable. This change might trigger night sweats and make it difficult to sleep.
And because hormones affect your entire body, including your brain, these shifts can leave you counting sheep even if you’re not burning up.
Feeling less coordinated
Do you turn into a total klutz when it’s that time of the month? If you do, you aren’t imagining things. Hormone changes can affect your balance and coordination.
Clumsiness is more likely to happen during your period as your estrogen levels climb back up from PMS levels. Experts aren’t sure why this happens. However, some believe that the change in hormone levels can lead to fluid retention in your body and brain, which throws your equilibrium a bit off-kilter.
Your body goes through immense changes during your cycle. Right before your period, your hormone levels fluctuate, your uterus grows, and your muscles start to contract to help empty your uterus.
Each of these changes can have bothersome effects on your colon. As the uterus enlarges, it can crowd the colon and cause constipation or bloating. Hormonal changes and muscle contractions can also cause bloating, discomfort, and even diarrhea.
Boobs may not be able to predict the weather, but they can often indicate an impending period. Breast sensitivity is caused by – you guessed it – hormonal changes.
Both estrogen and progesterone prepare your body for pregnancy. As the levels increase throughout your cycle, estrogen enlarges your breast ducts, and progesterone triggers expansions of your milk glands. Estrogen and progesterone reach their highest point in the week before your period.
Higher pain sensitivity
Experts believe that pain receptors increase their sensitivity directly before and during menstruation. As a result, you may experience increased sensitivity to even minor aches and pains, bumps, and bruises.
For people with chronic pain or severe pain like migraines, the effect can be debilitating. Schedule a visit with your doctor if you’re having trouble functioning due to sensitivity.
Anxiety or depression
Changes in hormone levels can cause considerable changes in your mood. The drop in estrogen and progesterone affects your neurotransmitters, reducing your serotonin and dopamine – the happy hormones.
These changes can manifest as depression, anxiety, irritability, “feeling blue,” or even a drop in self-esteem.
It’s important to know that this is entirely normal and should stabilize pretty quickly. If you have severe anxiety or depression that doesn’t go away after your red wedding, speak to your doctor about your options.
Final thoughts before you go
While most people know that PMS causes many adverse side effects, some don’t realize the scope of those side effects. Knowing what to expect before and during your period can help you combat PMS symptoms. If you need extra support or your symptoms are severe, speak to your doctor about how you can make your cycle more manageable.