Cramps and bleeding on a monthly basis — it's not a fun thing. But even less fun than your period is the week of agony many women endure leading up to the big event. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) has a long list of symptoms that can make life downright miserable, from the usual tiredness and irritability, to other PMS symptoms that are just plain weird.
Most people are familiar with the common (and seemingly endless) list of ways our bodies react to an impending period. In fact, over 150 symptoms have been linked to PMS, according to WebMD. These include acne flare ups, bloating, headaches, crying spells, breast tenderness, appetite changes, fatigue, a depressed mood, and increased anxiety. Yikes. We women are pretty awesome for dealing with that on a monthly basis. Am I right?
Even though the symptoms themselves are very well-known, the exact cause of PMS still remains a mystery. It is, however, likely due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, according to WomensHealth.gov. Chemical changes in the brain may also play a role, as well as fluid retention.
So we know all the common effects of PMS, but what about the lesser known symptoms? If you don't know about them, PMS can make you feel like you're going crazy, and not just due to awful mood swings. Before I knew that PMS wasn't limited to bloating and crankiness, I thought for sure I had come down with one weird disease after the other. But, as it turns out, PMS can rear its ugly head in quite a few (unexpected) ways. So you aren't going crazy, you aren't weird, and you definitely aren't alone if you're experiencing odd premenstrual symptoms.
Here's a list of some of the more bizarre PMS symptoms that you may have never considered.
1. You're Dropping Things And Tripping Over Your Own Feet
I'm clumsy enough as it is, so add my impending period to the mix and I'm barely able to put one foot in front of the other. The first time this happened I thought I had simply reached a new level of clumsy-dom, but period after period went by and I realized it was a running trend. And it turns out I'm not alone — gynecologists report clumsiness as a symptom of PMS, according to Ashley Oerman in Women's Health.
But while the cause remains a mystery, there are a few theories as to why we can't stop knocking things over during PMS. As Oerman notes, "The hypothesis is that high estrogen levels trigger your liver to make hormones that affect the kidneys and cause fluid retention in your body and possibly your brain, which could make it hard for you to keep your balance..." Hm, sounds plausible to me.
2. It Hurts Too Much To Pluck Your Eyebrows
If you feel like you're overly susceptible to pain when you're premenstrual, well, you're probably right. That's because pain receptors are more sensitive during this time of the month, notes Oerman, which is why it's best to avoid scheduling any sort of plucking or waxing treatment the week before your period. Save those mini tortures for another time of the month.
3. Your Poop Is All Weird
A few days to go 'til your period and suddenly it's like your body forgets how to poop. Or, you may find yourself stranded in the bathroom cursing the spicy burrito you had for lunch. These rather, um, unpleasant changes in bowel habits are due to a hormone-like compound called prostaglandins that trigger the uterus to contract. They can also float on over to to your bowel and cause contractions there as well, notes Meghan Rabbitt in Women's Health. Too many prostaglandins coursing through your body can send you running to the bathroom, while a lack of prostaglandins may leave you feeling constipated for days. It's a messy, messy time indeed.
4. Concentrating Feels Impossible
In the days leading up to your period, you may feel overwhelmed by even the simplest of tasks, like focusing at work or remembering your schedule. That's because your brain is steeping in a hormonal stew that can cause brain fog and difficulty concentrating. According to Dr. Daniel J. Heller for PMSComfort.com, "Brain fog ... is a remarkably accurate description of the lack of clarity and difficulty concentrating that can occur before the period. PMS brain fog can affect work performance and school and studying; [and] can make it hard to learn new things ... [It can] undermine your self-confidence and self-esteem, especially if you don’t realize that hormones are the cause." Keep this in mind, and give yourself a break next time you're just not feeling it at work.
5. Your Hands And Feet Look Puffy
The joys of puffiness and bloating aren't only for your stomach. Oh no. It can also make your hands and feet feel swollen in the days leading up to your period. And again, our old friend fluid retention is to blame, according to Dr. Orli Etingin on EverydayHealth.com. The best way to remedy the situation is to hold off on eating salty foods, drink plenty of water, and elevate your feet to help the fluid drain.
6. You Can't Sleep At All
Sure, you could be lying awake at night for any number of reasons. But if your period is on the horizon, then your inability to get any shut eye may be due to fluctuating hormones. According to an article by Christina Bouffis on WebMD.com, "Rising and falling levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which regulate the menstrual cycle, can affect a woman's ability to fall and stay asleep – as well as influence the quality of her sleep." Bouffis suggests exercising more as a way to combat your insomnia. So go take a jog around the park, or do some squats while watching Netflix. It may just help you sleep.
PMS has a long list of symptoms, and they aren't always obviously related to your approaching period. But if you've been experiencing weird symptoms — such as brain fog, clumsiness, or puffy hands and feet — then your monthly cycle may be to blame.
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