How do you know when a period is coming?

abdominal cramping

A person may detect when their period is due in a number of ways. As hormone levels decrease, many women suffer a variety of physical and mental symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

This article addresses how to detect when your period is coming and the causes of period symptoms in the absence of a period. PMS is sometimes compared to the symptoms of early pregnancy.


abdominal cramping

PMS affects a large number of women before their menstruation begins. This might be an indication that your menstrual cycle is approaching. The following are some of the physical signs and symptoms of PMS:

  • abdominal bloating
  • abdominal cramping
  • tender or swollen breasts
  • back pain
  • changes in appetite
  • pimples or acne
  • sleeping more or less than usual
  • headaches
  • sensitivity to light or sound
  • vaginal discharge becoming dry, sticky, or absent

Emotional symptoms of PMS may include:

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • food cravings
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feelings of sadness or apathy
  • crying spells or angry outbursts
  • reduced sex drive

Does everyone get PMS?

PMS is not a condition that affects everyone in the same manner. Some women have no PMS or only a few mild symptoms during their period, but others have severe symptoms that interfere with their regular activities. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is the medical term for severe PMS (PMDD).

Symptoms of PMS might fluctuate over the course of a person’s life. As people become older or after their first pregnancy, they may experience new PMS symptoms.

What is the duration of PMS?

PMS symptoms typically begin 5 days before a period and resolve as the body’s estrogen and progesterone levels begin to rise, according to the Office on Women’s Health. This usually happens 4 days after a person’s menstruation starts.

Period symptoms but no period

After ovulation, when an ovary releases an egg into a fallopian tube, PMS sets in. Estrogen and progesterone levels drop dramatically at this point in the menstrual cycle. This, according to researchers, is what produces PMS symptoms.

There are various possible causes if someone experiences PMS-like symptoms yet their period does not arrive when they expect it to, including:

  • Irregular periods: Periods may not always start at the same time in each cycle. If a person’s cycle duration changes a lot from month to month or if their cycle is unusually long, they may have irregular periods. Irregularities are common in people going through puberty or perimenopause, but they can also be caused by other factors.
  • Stress: Psychological stress creates a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. This condition may cause someone to feel nervous, overwhelmed, or emotionally charged than normal. Aches and pains, fatigue, changes in digestion, and a lack of sex desire are all possible side effects.
  • Hormonal birth control: Contraceptive pills, patches, implants, and intrauterine devices, among other contraceptive methods, can induce adverse symptoms that are similar to PMS. Some women, however, report that they no longer have a monthly period while using these form of birth control.
  • Physical conditions: PMS-like symptoms can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), certain dietary deficits, and thyroid disorders are just a few examples.
  • Pregnancy: Early pregnancy involves symptoms that are similar to PMS and causes periods to stop. If you think you could be pregnant, get tested.

Period vs. pregnancy

Symptoms of PMS and early pregnancy might be similar. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

Spotting or bleeding

Although minor bleeding or spotting is not common with PMS, some people do experience it. This might be an indication of an early pregnancy.

During the first trimester, almost 15–25% of pregnant women have spotting or mild bleeding. Implantation bleeding occurs when a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining 1–2 weeks after fertilization.

Menstrual bleeding is substantially heavier than implant bleeding. Menstrual blood appears bright red, or it may seem as a pale pink or brown discharge.

Abdominal pain or cramping

Abdominal pain can be caused by both PMS and pregnancy. Mild to moderate cramping in the lower abdomen is also possible.

These cramps are comparable to premenstrual cramps and occur when the embryo develops and strains the uterus throughout pregnancy.

Breast changes

PMS and pregnancy both impact hormone levels, which can cause breast changes like:

  • pain
  • tenderness or sensitivity
  • swelling
  • heaviness

Breast changes caused by PMS normally disappear with the start or end of a person’s cycle. Breast changes caused by pregnancy, on the other hand, can last the entire pregnancy.


Fatigue can be a sign of PMS as well as early pregnancy. Increased hormone levels may cause fatigue during pregnancy. During PMS, an imbalance of the neurotransmitter serotonin may lead to tiredness.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep cycles, and its levels fluctuate throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. Some persons may be more affected than others by these changes.

Changes in mood

Hormonal changes that occur during menstruation and pregnancy might have an impact on a person’s mood, making them worried, depressed, or angry. Feelings of sorrow, apathy, or anger that persist for more than two weeks may be signs of depression or another mood disorder. PMDD can be identified by dramatic mood swings that occur solely before a period.

PMDD has symptoms that are comparable to PMS but are significantly more severe. They are as follows:

  • persistent irritability
  • symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • mood swings
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • severe daytime fatigue
  • food cravings
  • binge eating
  • headaches
  • bloating
  • cramps
  • joint and muscle pain

When should you consult a doctor?
People should consult a doctor if they have PMS symptoms that interfere with their everyday lives, if the symptoms arise outside of their period, or if their PMS or period symptoms alter suddenly or dramatically.

If a person expects to have a period but does not get one, it is essential to consult a medical practitioner about the possible explanations. If they suspect someone is pregnant, they may suggest a pregnancy test or additional testing if pregnancy isn’t the issue.

Pregnancy difficulties such as pregnancy loss or ectopic pregnancy might be indicated by heavy bleeding and severe abdominal cramps. If a pregnant woman has any of the following symptoms, she should see a doctor immediately:

  • heavy bleeding
  • intense lower back pain
  • painful abdominal cramps
  • a sudden, intense headache
  • severe, persistent fatigue
  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting numerous times a day


Spotting, discomfort or cramps, bloating, swollen or sore breasts, acne, and mood changes are some of the signs that might indicate that someone is going to have a period.

PMS normally comes a week before a period starts and disappears a few days afterwards. Although these symptoms might be bothersome, they should not interfere with a person’s day-to-day activities.

If someone has severe PMS or symptoms that don’t occur with their period, they should see a doctor.