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Period symptoms

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What are the symptoms of your period?

The changes in your body and its hormone levels before your period can cause both emotional and physical changes. You may experience the same symptoms every month before your period arrives, however the intensity of these may change or you could experience different symptoms every month. Symptoms tend to improve once your period starts and they will not happen again until your next period.

Common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Back ache
  • Pain and cramps in your abdomen
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping and fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling irritable, angry or upset
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Food cravings
  • Changes to your appetite
  • Feeling confused or forgetful

How do you know if your period is coming?

There are certain signs of your period that you can look out for during your menstrual cycle. These may happen one to two weeks before you start to bleed and then they will go away.

Signs can include:

  • Acne
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Bloating

What is normal for a period?

It is completely normal to experience premenstrual symptoms in the two weeks before your period starts. These are usually mild and do not interfere with your daily life and tasks. However if these symptoms do start to make your everyday routine difficult then you can talk to your GP who can offer advice and treatment.

What is premenstrual syndrome?

Many women will experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) one to two weeks before their period begins. PMS refers to the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that occur before your period. Many women who have periods will not experience these symptoms as PMS does not affect every woman or every woman the same way.

Why is my period late?

Late and missed periods can happen for many reasons. It could be that you are pregnant or experiencing a hormonal imbalance or a medical condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is affecting your cycle. Lifestyle factors such as stress and your weight or the contraception that you are using can also affect your menstrual cycle. 

When do periods stop?

When you reach the menopause, your periods will stop and you will no longer be able to get pregnant naturally. Many women will go through the menopause in their late 40s to mid-50s. Sometimes your periods will stop suddenly, however many women find that they become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop completely.

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