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PMS Symptoms: why they happen and how to relieve them

Updated: Aug 23

A very candid look at your most common PMS symptoms.

Ah, PMS. Your monthly warning to put your white knickers to the back of the drawer, dig out your menstrual cup and stock up on snacks - or if you’re anything like me, to feel offside for a few days, have no idea why, then ‘suddenly’ get your period and watch everything make sense again. Whoops.

As with any health issues, if you’re concerned about your PMS symptoms, or they’re getting in the way of your daily life, go to the doctors! Chances are, they’ll either put your mind at ease that what you’re experiencing is normal OR able to give you some kind of medication/relief for whatever it is that’s bothering you.

That being said, here’s a candid look at your most common PMS symptoms, why they can happen, and how you can try to ease them at home.

Butt Pain/Cramping:

Having a period can sometimes be a real *ahem* pain in the bum. No really - a lot of menstruators experience anal shooting pains or cramping when they have their period!

Whilst there isn’t a huge amount of literature explaining the subject, most experts chalk it up to prostoglandins. These are hormones released during your period, which cause muscle contraction. This is great for getting the uterus lining out of your body via your vagina aka, causing the actual period. Unfortunately, it’s also a great way to cause a cramping, spasming butt.

What to do:

As with cramping in your tummy/back, the best thing to do is pop an ibuprofen and try and get some heat on the area. A warm shower/bath or hot water bottle should help.


Prostoglandins (see above) can also cause menstrual nausea - along with vomiting and diarrhoea. Yay!

What to do:

A personal favourite of mine is to drink peppermint tea, chew some fresh minty chewing gum or even brush my teeth to reduce nausea. Ginger is also recommended for easing sickness: you can try fresh ginger steeped in water, a ginger shot, or ginger ale.

A study has found that B Vitamins can also reduce nausea during pregnancy, which means there’s a high chance it’ll help for menstrual nausea too. Stock up on your vitamins, and make sure you’re eating plenty of salmon, brown rice, spinach, firm tofu, mushrooms or red meat.

Boob Growth and tenderness:

Some of you love it, some of you hate it, lots of us experience it: boob growth just before and during our periods. Increased levels of progesterone cause the milk ducts and connective tissue to swell. This can result in booby-spillage from your bra, as well as sore nipples/a tender chest.

What to do:

It’s worth having at least one bra which is a bit bigger than your others. Go out and get fitted when you notice your boobs are at their biggest, and keep it for when your period rolls round each month. Alternatively, sling on a stretchy sports bra or bralette. Or just go braless. Do what works for you and your boobies!

You can also give your boobs a gentle massage with some evening primrose oil (or take primrose vitamins) to help reduce swelling and ease the pain.

Period Acne:

A menstrual woe I was convinced I’d grow out of by 21 (didn’t happen though), period acne can be exceptionally stubborn. It can be especially painful and prominent on the chin, but flare ups on the back and chest also tend to be hormonal.

This is just another hormonal treat menstruators experience each month. Reduced progesterone and estrogen prompts the skin to create more sebum, aka oil, which can cause those deep hormonal spots. Being stressed due to other not-so-fun PMS symptoms and satisfying cravings for sugary and processed food can also contribute to period acne.

What to do:

Make sure you have a decent, yet manageable skin care routine that you can stick to the whole month i.e., cleanse, exfoliate (but not too often!) and moisturise. Tea tree oil can really help to shrink stubborn spots, as can blister plasters such as Compeed, which draw out pus/fluids over the course of a few hours.

Author; Maria Bennett

Ditch The Rag Donation Manager


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