What is PMS?

PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome, and it refers to the physical and emotional reactions you go through before you start your period, caused by changes in hormone levels. PMS usually occurs 1 to 2 weeks before the first day of your ~flow~, and the symptoms may be different month-to-month or person-to-person, especially when you’re just starting to get your period.

It may be helpful for you to track your PMS symptoms along with your period, just so you become an expert on what you experience and when.

Common PMS symptoms 

  • Cramps Usually you’ll feel cramps in your lower abdomen, but some people can experience cramps in their lower back or thighs. It usually feels like an ache or a tightening, but some people describe it as poking or sharp. A lot of times, curling up with a hot water bottle or a heating pad or taking a bath can help. A medicine like Ibuprofen can make you feel better, too—just check in with your doctor or parent.

  • Bloating Bloating often just feels like being full, and it comes from your body retaining water during PMS. It can help to avoid greasy or salty foods around this time, as they cause your body to hold on to water, too. (A bummer, we know!!)

  • Breast tenderness   Your breasts might feel extra sensitive or even sore during PMS, thanks to changing hormone levels that cause some changes in your breast tissue. Sometimes, a bra or other supportive garment can keep things from movin’ (and therefore hurtin’), but listen to what your body needs.

  • Irritability You might find yourself feeling *all* the feelings when you’re PMS’ing. If you notice that your emotions are more intense than they usually are, or you had an outsized reaction to something that happened, PMS could be to blame. Of course, check in with yourself and take note of how you’re feeling throughout the month.

What will my period feel like?

  • Appetite changes Some people lose their appetite when they’re PMS’ing, some people are suddenly hungry all the time, and other people get cravings for specific things. (M&Ms, please!) Make sure you’re eating healthfully and eating enough: It’s important to keep your energy up while your bod’s working hard.

  • Acne PMS can usher acne, or pimples, too. Pimples, just like bodies, come in all shapes and sizes—whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, cysts. (Oh my!) For a lot of people, the acne directly related to hormones will appear on the bottom third of your face, so around your cheeks, mouth, and chin. Having a skincare regimen or using acne treatments can help, but talk to your dermatologist or doctor to figure out what will work best for you.

  • Headaches Sometimes, all the other things going on in your body can cause headaches when you’re PMS’ing. You can treat it however you would normally—a compress, a nap, ibuprofen. But if it is worse than normal, or is accompanied by side effect you’re not used to, talk to a doctor. You might suffer from migraines, a more severe kind of headache, which can often happen to people who deal with PMS.

 With all of these PMS’ing possibilities, you may notice that you feel ~different~ before your period starts. Or not! The best thing to do is to listen to your body and create a self-care routine that makes you feel good, physically and emotionally, no matter what’s going on.

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