Signs of Period Coming: Patterns Before Bleeding Starts

Medically reviewed by Cordelia Nwankwo, MD

Physical and emotional changes in the days leading up to your period (menstruation) are known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Signs and symptoms of PMS include weight gain, diarrhea, irritability, and cramping.

Most people who menstruate have about one period per month. A menstrual cycle lasts 28 days, and a normal cycle can vary from 21 to 35 days.

This article discusses signs that tell you your period is coming, reasons for a late period, and when to contact a healthcare provider.

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The four phases of the menstrual cycle include menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. The one to two weeks before your period is the luteal phase. During this phase, the uterus prepares for pregnancy by thickening the uterine lining. The hormonal changes during the luteal phases are likely responsible for any PMS symptoms you experience.

Period Coming on Time: How to Tell

Everyone who menstruates experiences PMS symptoms differently. The signs can range from mild to severe. For most people, PMS symptoms tend to worsen in the late 30s and 40s as perimenopause approaches.


One of the most common signs that your period is coming is cramping in the lower abdomen. As the uterus prepares to shed its inner lining, it causes muscle contractions that feel like pelvic cramping. You may notice bloating and gas as well.

Digestive Issues

The hormonal changes that occur in the days and weeks leading up to your period may cause gastrointestinal problems. You may experience constipation or diarrhea, changes in your appetite, and food cravings.

Aches and Pains

Your body releases prostaglandins, chemicals that stimulate smooth muscle contraction right before your period comes. Prostaglandins are responsible for the uterus's contracting during your period. They can also cause headaches, backaches, and tender breasts

Mood Changes

It is common to experience mood changes before your period. These are caused by falling levels of estrogen and progesterone. Before your period, you may experience feelings of irritability, anxiety, or depression. It may also feel difficult to concentrate or to remember details.


It's common to feel especially tired before your period. In the week before your period, you may notice daytime sleepiness and trouble sleeping at night. Hormonal changes cause these symptoms. 


People with certain chronic health conditions may experience an increase in symptoms before their periods. PMS can worsen the following chronic conditions:

Late Period: Can You Tell It Isn’t Coming?

Research found about 5% to 35.6% of people who menstruate have experienced irregular periods. You are most likely to experience irregular periods when you first start menstruating, as well as in the years leading up to perimenopause and menopause.

Late periods are common if you are experiencing the following:

  • Stress: Chronic stress affects hormone levels and may cause your period to be irregular.

  • Obesity: An overabundance of fat cells can lead to too much estrogen and irregular periods.

  • Hormonal birth control: It can take three months after stopping birth control for your period to become regular again.

  • Low body weight: Extremely low body weight or an eating disorder may lead to absent periods.

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Too many male hormones in the body may stop ovulation.

  • Thyroid dysfunction: Having too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormone affects hormone levels.

  • Diabetes: Having uncontrolled diabetes affects hormone levels and may lead to late or very light periods.

Related: 6 Common Questions About a Girl's First Period


People who are breastfeeding may experience late or absent periods. Breastfeeding releases the hormone prolactin, which affects the body’s ability to ovulate and menstruate. 

Feeling Like a Period Is Coming But No Period

There may be a month when you have signs of your period but never get your period. Some health conditions cause symptoms similar to PMS, which can include:

Some early signs of pregnancy feel like PMS. These symptoms include:

Talk with a healthcare provider if your period is more than six weeks late, and consider taking a pregnancy test if needed. 

PMDD Signs to Know

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition that is similar to PMS but is much more severe. Symptoms include:

  • Irritability or anger that feels out of control

  • Sadness, despair, or thoughts of self-harm

  • Anxiety or panic

  • Crying often

  • Daytime fatigue and trouble sleeping

  • Food cravings or binge eating

  • Painful menstrual cramps, bloating, headaches, and breast soreness

PMDD symptoms usually occur a week or two before your period and resolve a few days into your period. PMDD symptoms are generally so severe that they affect your ability to function in your daily life. Fortunately, there are treatments available to help. 

How to Manage Symptoms Before a Period Starts

Period symptoms can feel very uncomfortable. However, there are lifestyle changes and treatments available that can ease your discomfort and increase your energy.

To manage your period symptoms, consider the following lifestyle changes:

  • Physical activity: Gentle, daily exercise can improve fatigue, cramping, and low mood.

  • Healthy eating plan: Focusing on whole foods and complex carbohydrates can help with food cravings.

  • Sleep hygiene: Getting enough rest by winding down at night and sleeping seven to eight hours can improve symptoms.

  • Stress management: Stress can affect your hormone levels and period regularity; finding a way to cope with stress, such as therapy or meditation, may help ease symptoms.

  • Avoid smoke: Tobacco smoke worsens headaches and pain, so avoid it as much as possible.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications for period cramps, headaches, and backaches include Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen), and Aspirin.

Prescription medications that may improve period symptoms include:

Supplements that have been linked to improved period symptoms include:

  • Calcium: May reduce fatigue, cravings, and feelings of depression

  • Vitamin B6: May improve irritability, forgetfulness, bloating, and anxiety

  • Magnesium: May improve migraines

  • Polyunsaturated fats: May reduce cramping

Learn More: How to Reduce PMS Symptoms

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Most people who menstruate experience some symptoms leading up to their periods. If your symptoms become severe enough to affect your ability to function or enjoy life, see a healthcare provider immediately. There are treatments available to ease your pain or discomfort. Call a provider if you notice your periods have become irregular or late.


Signs of a period coming often include bloating, cramping, headaches, tender breasts, irritability, and fatigue, which occur one to two weeks before a period. This is referred to as premenstrual syndrome.

If your period is late or absent, you may be experiencing a health condition such as chronic stress, obesity, diabetes, PCOS, thyroid dysfunction, or pregnancy. If your PMS symptoms feel severe or affect your ability to function in your daily life, you may be experiencing premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Fortunately, there are treatments available to ease PMS symptoms. Lifestyle factors include daily exercise, a healthy eating plan, improved sleep, stress management, and avoiding tobacco smoke. If you need help managing PMS symptoms, see a healthcare provider.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.