When you’re approaching your period, you’ll most likely be on the lookout for some giveaway signs that it’s coming. For some people, their period arrives like clockwork, and they can predict it with confidence. For others, however, it can sometimes come as a surprise. Because everyone’s body is different, some people find it hard to pinpoint the moment when their period is going to begin.
The regularity of your periods might vary, but from your first period onwards, you will probably start recognising some tell-tale signs but even after years of having periods they can catch you off-guard! It therefore makes sense that people across the UK are Googling the most frequent signs that your period is due.
Let’s take a look at the most commonly searched terms and find out a little more about the signs that will help you to prep for your period and avoid being surprised!
The most commonly searched sign that your period is due and you’re experiencing pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is period cramps. In 2021, the Google search term ‘how to get rid of period cramps’ is searched on average 8,200 times a month. Cramps, or period pains, are one of the tell-tale signs that your period is on the way. However, they can affect different people at different points in their cycle. According to the NHS, cramps typically start when the bleeding begins. For some, however, the cramps come a few days before the bleeding, signalling that your period will begin soon.
Although they can be annoying, cramps are a natural part of the menstrual cycle. They are caused by the tightening of the muscular wall of the womb – vigorous contractions of this wall occur during your period to help the womb shed its lining. Typically, these contractions cause painful muscular cramps which can be felt in your tummy, back, and thighs. If your period pains start to inhibit your life you should consult your GP.
Another commonly searched for sign that your period is on its way is headaches. There are a few different ways people refer to this symptom, including ‘menstrual migraines’, ‘hormone headaches’ or straight up ‘period headaches’. The term ‘period headaches’ is searched on average 5,067 times per month in the UK, showing that period-related headaches are more common than you might have thought. In fact, more than half of all women who get migraines have noticed a link with their menstrual cycle. According to a former member of the National Migraine Centre, Dr Anne McGregor, menstrual migraines develop due to the natural drop in oestrogen levels that occurs leading up to a period or during the first couple of days of bleeding. Therefore, if you’re experiencing particularly intense headaches, there could be a link with your cycle, and it could be a sign to expect your period.
Many people experience bloating during the lead-up to their period, and it’s another highly searched for sign that you’re experiencing PMS. It’s the third most commonly searched symptom in 2021, with a monthly average of 4,400 searches for ‘period bloating’ and 2,400 searches for ‘bloating before period’. Swelling and bloating usually occur during the days leading up to your period, and you can expect it to go away once the bleeding begins. Many people experience a bloated tummy, which can make it feel like you’ve gained weight. Your body is also likely to feel particularly tender during this time, particularly your breasts.
Drinking a lot of water and consuming less caffeine and alcohol have been found to reduce bloating during the lead-up to a period. However, there’s nothing to worry about if your body is feeling bloated, and it should pass within a few days.
If you encounter emotional changes and heightened anxiousness in the lead-up to your period, you’re not alone! Mood swings are another commonly searched-for sign that your period is on its way. With an average of 720 searches per month for ‘period mood swings’, it’s clear that many people experience fluctuations in their mood on the run-up to, and during, their period. Although this emotional strain can be difficult to cope with, rest assured that it is a common and completely natural symptom. Typical types of mood change that you might encounter include tension, irritability, anger, anxiety, and tearfulness. These moods are likely to be felt more intensely by people with a tendency to feel depressed or anxious. The best thing you can do while experiencing mood swings is to be kind to yourself and if things are intense, speak to your GP. Also try to ensure that you get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and try not to pile pressure on yourself while you wait for these mood fluctuations to pass.
You might have noticed that you develop a particular longing for a certain type of food once a month – this could be yet another giveaway that your period is about to begin. With a monthly average search volume of 677 for ‘period cravings’, it’s clear that you’re not alone if you experience changes in your appetite when your period is around the corner. It’s totally normal to be overcome by cravings for carbs or sugary snacks before your period. There’s even a biological reasoning behind why you want to reach for the chocolate. It has been found that fluctuating hormone levels increase your appetite for carbs and sweet foods before your period. What’s more, these cravings can also be linked to pre-period mood swings. When you eat starchy and sweet foods your body releases serotonin, which can boost your happiness levels. If you’re feeling particularly anxious on the run-up to your period, it makes sense to look for a mood boost in the form of a tasty snack!
Finally, there’s period acne – a symptom that is searched for, on average, 590 times a month. There’s so much going on with your hormone levels before and during your period that your skin can also be affected. The drop in oestrogen and progesterone levels directly before your period begins can trigger your sebaceous glands. These glands (which are close to the surface of your skin) create sebum, an oily substance that can cause breakouts and skin inflammation. Although period-related acne typically begins in the lead-up to your period, it doesn’t always go away once it starts. An increase of testosterone towards the end of your period can also trigger your sebaceous glands, potentially causing a second round of period-related acne.
It can certainly be a pain when your skin flares up during or before your period but know that you’re not alone! Reports state that around 65 per cent of people experience higher levels of acne during their period, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Everyone’s body is totally unique, and your PMS symptoms might be completely different from those of your friends. All you can do is be sure to trust your body in what it needs, allow yourself enough rest and self-care during your period, and do what’s right for you.