Menstruation has long been surrounded by taboo that is comparable to the stigma and lack of acknowledgement that is often associated with female bodies. The three to fives days of bleeding through the vagina is comfortable for some and mildly annoying or woefully painful for others. And probably the most irritable part is that symptoms of your menstrual cycle start showing up even before your period starts. Here is your all-encompassing guide to common menstrual symptoms and ways to manage them. Abdominal Cramps Abdominal cramps are probably a period symptom faced by most women. Cramps are sharp pain felt in the lower abdomen, back and upper thighs. For some, it is bearable, while others may physically feel paralyzed by the pain. Typically, hot-bottle water helps with alleviating cramps. You can even take over-the-counter pain relievers. It would be advisable to talk to your doctor about birth control pills to further manage your symptoms. Probably no one experiencing severe period cramps wants to hear this, by exercising and moving your body can relieve pain. Headaches & Migraines Experiencing headaches or migraines in your period is nothing out of the blue. You should take over-the-counter medication to deal with headaches caused by hormonal changes in your body. Bloating & Constipation Do you think you are bloated on your period? Well, it’s not just in your mind. The hormonal changes make your body retain more water and salt than usual, causing bloating. Furthermore, it’s absolutely normal if your bowel movements change during your cycle. Around your period, you should stick to low-sodium foods and drink plenty of water. You should also avoid caffeine and alcohol to minimize dehydration. Mood Swings Pop culture and men, in general, have left no stones unturned when it comes to mocking women’s mood swings on their period. While such jokes may get a few laughs, it is not a laughing matter. Being on your period can be a physical as well as an emotional turmoil. From feeling overly sensitive to irritable, you can control your mood swings by focusing on getting sufficient sleep, eating good food and managing stress levels. Hormonal Breakouts For many women, periods come with inevitable breakouts. No matter how religiously you keep up with your skincare routine, hormonal breakouts can still happen. There are a variety of topical treatments available to treat hormonal acne. Birth control pills can also help you control period acne. Fatigue Considering the cramps, mood swings, and general distress your body is going through, feeling tired around your periods is not out of the ordinary. You might also be struggling with sleep, which can cause further fatigue. Try to go to bed at a reasonable time, eat a nutritious diet and stay hydrated. The Bottom Line PMS symptoms can end up being so severe that you may not be able to work, study or focus in general. At times, even sitting upright could be an impossible task. Whether you’re experiencing extremely agonizing period cramps or your flow has drastically changed, it’s always advisable to consult a professional. A doctor can not only help you with pain management but also identify any underlying condition impacting your menstrual cycle.