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All About Period Symptoms: From Cramps to Insomnia

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Menstruation, also known as periods, is a common natural phenomenon among women or Assigned Females at Birth (AFAB) that usually occurs every month.

In 90% of women who menstruate, periods come with symptoms ranging from emotional changes to physical discomfort.

Mood swings, cramps, breast tenderness, and fatigue are some of the symptoms commonly experienced during a menstrual cycle. These signs can begin in the days leading up to menstruation, which is known as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), and may continue during the period itself.

These symptoms can affect your day-to-day activities, making it important to understand and manage them effectively. 

This article will take you through all types of period symptoms and offer tips on how to reduce them.

Common Period Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms experienced before or during periods include abdominal cramps, headaches, bloating, back pain, sudden mood swings, constipation, etc. 

PMS symptoms can usually be experienced 1-2 weeks before your period starts and disappear 3-4 days after you start bleeding. The severity of the menstrual symptoms can vary from one person to another.

Let us study these symptoms in detail.

Abdominal Cramps

Abdominal cramps are a common symptom during and even before your menstruation. These are usually pains in your abdomen, which might even be felt in your thighs sometimes. These pains can range from dull aches to sharp pains. 

The production of Prostaglandins causes muscle contractions that help in shedding the lining of the uterus during periods leading to cramps. 


Woman suffering from headacheSource: Syda_Productions
Woman suffering from headache

Hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle can cause mild to moderate headaches. The increase followed by the drop in Estrogen levels during hormonal changes makes the blood vessels in the head to compress and expand. This can lead to headaches.


Another common period symptom is feeling bloated during or before your periods. This happens mainly because of water retention and hormonal fluctuations.

Tender or sore breasts

Increase in hormones like Progesterone causes your breasts to swell in between your cycle. These changes to your breasts because of hormones cause tenderness or soreness.

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  • Acne breakouts

    Acne breakout during or before your periods is a very common symptom. An increase in hormones like androgen during your cycle leads to the production of sebum. It is an oily substance that can clog your pores and, hence, lead to acne.

    Sudden Mood Swings

    Hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle affect your mood as well. 

    The decreased level of Estrogen during period reduces feel-good hormones in your body, making you feel sad, low, or even anxious. You might also feel a lack of concentration or motivation.

    Back Pain

    Another period symptom is back pain. An increase in blood flow during periods towards the pelvic region can cause backache. A compound called Prostaglandins is produced in your body to facilitate muscle contractions in the uterus to shed the lining. This can also lead to back pain during periods. This compound is also responsible for increasing pain sensitivity. 

    Prostaglandins are compounds produced in the body that help in inflammation response, muscle contractions, and blood flow.

    A Feeling of Tiredness or Fatigue

    Hormonal changes before and during your periods can make you feel tired. Fatigue is also a result of the constant mood swings.

    Bowel Issues

    Woman suffering from diarrheaSource: MB_Lifestyle
    Woman suffering from diarrhea

    Bowel issues like diarrhea and constipation are common symptoms before and during periods. As the organs in the body are placed close to each other, uterine contractions during periods can result in contractions of the bowel, resulting in diarrhea. Hormonal fluctuations can also cause constipation during periods. Feelings of indigestion are also common. 

    Difficulty Falling Asleep or Insomnia

    PMS symptoms like cramps, headache, back pain, etc can prevent you from falling asleep. Changes in hormone levels during periods also lead to an increase in body temperature, which can make it difficult to stay or fall asleep.

    If you experience sleep issues even after your period ends, it is best to consult a doctor to identify the underlying cause.

    A Look into Periods with Minimal or Low Symptoms

    The scenario when your period is due tomorrow, but there are no PMS symptoms, might feel confusing and unusual. However, experiencing no or very few symptoms before your period is a completely natural and common occurrence.

    Many people don’t experience any symptoms before their periods. This can be because their bodies don’t undergo the hormonal fluctuations that lead to these symptoms.

    Even if you usually experience menstrual symptoms, the severity or type of symptoms can change from cycle to cycle. Your body might often go through hormonal changes that reduce PMS symptoms. 

    Ways to Manage Period Symptoms

    Adequate hydration can help reduce bloating and constipation issues.

    Using a heating pad can help in reducing cramps and manage pain.

    Little physical activity like walking or swimming can reduce pain and help lift your mood.

    Consuming a well-balanced and nutritious diet can help manage PMS symptoms.

    Taking pain relief medicines can help in managing period cramps and discomfort.

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    To conclude, common symptoms before your period are:

    • Headaches
    • Bloated or gassy stomach,
    • Tender or sore breasts
    • Breakout of acne,
    • Sudden mood swings,
    • Back pain
    • A feeling of tiredness or fatigue
    • Bowel Issues
    • Difficulty falling asleep or Insomnia,

    PMS symptoms vary from person to person and cycle to cycle. 

    It is best to track your monthly cycle and consult a doctor if you experience anything unusual or concerning.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do period symptoms change over time?

    Yes, they can change over time. This can be owing to factors like age, lifestyle changes, weight fluctuations, hormonal disorders, and birth control.

    Is heartburn a period symptom?

    Heartburn can be a period symptom. Many women experience acid reflux or heartburn before or during their periods, especially women experiencing Menopause. 

    What are ghost period symptoms?

    Ghost periods or Phantom periods refer to feeling the symptoms of a period, like cramps, back pain, mood swings, etc., but not getting your period. It can lead to a feeling of confusion or frustration.
    They can occur because of sudden weight fluctuations, hormonal imbalances, and stress.

    What are period symptoms after Hysterectomy?

    Hysterectomy is the process of surgically removing the uterus. After undergoing a hysterectomy, typically, you should not experience periods. 
    However, period symptoms can occur if the ovaries are not removed along with the uterus, as they will continue to produce eggs leading to hormonal changes that can cause period symptoms.

    What are period symptoms while breastfeeding?

    Breastfeeding can largely affect period symptoms, mainly because of the release of a hormone called prolactin. 
    Some people might experience the same period symptoms as before, while others can feel that their symptoms have become milder or even more severe.
    Many also experience late periods or missed periods while breastfeeding.

    Is Nausea a period symptom?

    Yes, Nausea is a common PMS symptom. Many people experience mild to severe nausea along with vomiting before their periods. 

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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