What other symptoms might I be getting ? Are these normal too?

Symptoms that occur in the two weeks before the period (and are very common in the three to seven days before the period) are often called premenstrual symptoms or more often ‘PMS’.

It is very common to have these ‘PMS’ symptoms, with around a third of people reporting at least one of these symptoms on a regular basis. We do know that stress seems to make PMS symptoms worse.

The most common PMS symptoms are:

  • Breast tenderness/soreness. Some people say it feels like their breasts are heavy, sore, or hot.
  • Bloating. Usually in the lower abdomen.
  • Headaches. These can range from mild to very severe.
  • Food cravings. Foods containing a lot of salt and carbohydrates seem to be a common craving, as does chocolate.
  • Sudden mood changes. Usually feeling angry, irritable or sad more easily than normal. These symptoms are different to depression or anxiety in that as soon as your period starts these emotional symptoms should completely disappear within 24-48 hours.

We are not sure exactly what causes these PMS symptoms, but there is research to suggest that the prostaglandin hormone (especially one kind of prostaglandin called PGF2a), the same hormone that causes period pain, might be involved. This hormone gets absorbed into the blood stream and can cause some of these symptoms. This might be why these symptoms are so common in individuals with significant period pain. Other possible causes are changes in levels of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin (one of the chemicals that make us feel happy) as well as genetic factors. Some of the self-care options, especially the yoga postures, and the dietary advice might help reduce PMS symptoms.

A more severe (and much less common) form of PMS is called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and has similar symptoms to PMS but the emotional symptoms (such as sadness) are very severe and can make functioning day-to-day in the weeks before the period very difficult. If you think your PMS or PMDD symptoms are affecting your life in a negative way and you are having trouble coping with these, visit your doctor to discuss treatment options.